Monday, September 2, 2013

Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

After attending the Handwerker Gallery, I learned what fracking is and how Marcellus Shale's gas drillings have affected many people living in Pennsylvania through the photographs in the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project.

First, let us define fracking. According to, hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. While this may seem like a good way to obtain natural gases, the fracking process destroys land and contaminates water. Now back to the gallery... 

The Handwerker Gallery
As I stood in the gallery drinking my ice cold glass of water, I couldn't help but think of how much I take water for granted. I mean, there I was staring into these people's eyes in the HUGE portraits on the back wall, practically able to feel the desperation and devastation on their faces. These people have no clean water to drink or bathe in. That was grossly terrifying to me; some of the people photographed were quoted saying the water was "black, smelly, or simply gone." (Lynn Johnson).

I could feel these emotions while walking around the gallery because of the photographers' remarkable work. Through their pictures they exposed the story of the Marcellus Shale gas drillings, the dangers of fracking, and how it has affected specific individuals. It did not matter that I was eating free oatmeal cookies while I strolled back and forth. (And I loooove me some oatmeal cookies...especially free ones) I could feel their anxiety and gloom.
A photo of Deb Eck by Lynn Johnson

When looking at this photograph of Deb Eck, a resident of Riverdale trailer park, one can sense the chaos going on in her life because of the way the photographer captured her sitting among the mess in her home. She is in the transition between eviction and move because the land she was living on was sold to Aqua America as the site for a water-extraction plant for Marcellus Shale gas drilling. The photo reminded me of pictures taken during The Great Depression, like this one, where you find people expressing the same emotions.
A view of the natural-gas pipeline under construction
in Franklin Township, PA, on 05/01/12 by Noah Addis.

Don't get me wrong, the photographs depicting the actual gas drillings were good, but it was the pictures of people that I liked the most. It's hard to replicate a certain emotion just for a photograph. That's what models are for. But these were real people, with real homes, and real problems now due to fracking; and the desolation on their faces was as real as it gets.

To watch the documentary on YouTube: Marcellus Shale Documentary
To read more about the dangers of fracking:

No comments:

Post a Comment