Visualizing One Million

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One Million Dots silk screened on the wall in an accounting firm.

One Million Dots silk screened on the wall in an accounting firm.

As mural painters for the past thirty years my wife and I have created art works for a wide range of situations. I recently ran across an article entitled “One Billion” by Daniel Radosh in the 2/28/05 issue of the New Yorker Magazine and it called to mind a project where we were asked to embellish the office walls of a large accounting firm.

 

The challenge in all of these situations is to be both artistic and relevant to the particular environment. As a matter of course, we immerse ourselves in the feel of the neighborhood or workplace: it’s history, demographics, current activities, goals, hopes, and dreams. In short we become instant experts in the culture.

For this project we began to wonder if in working out budgets and reviewing spending, did these accountants really know what a million was, let alone a billion. We decided to challenge them with this question by silkscreening one million dots on one section of wall: 100 square matrices, each with a 100 x 100 pattern of 10,000 points…it’s effect was immediate: staff began counting to see if there really were a million dots…there were.

In this process they seemed to begin to grasp the magnitude of the number, as we overheard one CPA soberly remark to no one in particular, “Huh, so that’s really a million.”

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