Midway: Message from the Gyre, Chris Jordan's photography

Chris Jordan Midway: Message from the Gyre

Midway, CF000313, Midway Atoll, 2009.

Midway, CF000478; Midway Atoll, 2009.

Midway, CF000668, Midway Atoll, 2009.

Midway, CF000441, Midway Atoll, 2009.

Midway, CF000774, Midway Atoll, 2009.

Midway, CF010066, Midway Atoll, 2010.

Midway, CF010257, Midway Atoll, 2010.

Midway, CF010533, Midway Atoll, 2010.

Midway, CF000228, Midway Atoll, 2009.

Artist's Statement

On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses.

The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean.

For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.

About the photographer


1963, United States



Based in

Seattle, United States

About Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan is a 46-year-old photographic artist based in Seattle, USA. His work explores the detritus of mass culture, from images of mountains of garbage in his project titled Intolerable Beauty; to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in his series titled In Katrina’s Wake; to Running the Numbers, his digitally-manipulated photographs depicting hundreds of thousands of cell phones, aluminium cans, plastic bottles, and the like.

In his newest project, Midway: Message From The Gyre, Chris returns to traditional photography to document a richly symbolic environmental tragedy: the plastic-filled carcasses of dead baby albatrosses on Midway Atoll in the Pacific. These images draw the viewer intimately into the horrors of global mass-consumerism, reminding us that the consequences of our unchecked growth extend to every corner of the globe.

Chris’s Midway images have reached a worldwide audience in 2010, but prints of this series have not yet been publicly exhibited.