Patrick Craig Manning: Mississippi River Delta

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Patrick Manning, a photographer based in New Mexico, also uses seemingly straightforward techniques to explore something so pervasive in landscape that it becomes nearly impossible to discern. Manning’s Delta series looks at erosion caused in large part by the extensive network of man-made channels and canals in the Mississippi River Delta. Manning’s challenge is to portray, as he says, “changes so vast that they become the environment itself.” He has established a formal template for the images: each panoramic print is horizontally bisected by the horizon line, sky above, usually an expanse of water below, and a thin strip of green land in between; occasional structures or boats dot the landscape. The prints are unrealistically light, with the sky and the water all but washed out. The formal repetition and the lightness of the prints combine to create the sense that the photographs do not really show their subject — can’t really show it. We cannot see the lands that have sunk and eroded away, but we feel their absence.

via New Landscape Photography: Bleda y Rosa, Richard Mosse, Stephen Tourlentes, Patrick Manning: Places: Design Observer.

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DELTA – 2008-2012 – INKJET PRINTS – 51″X30″

The impact of the ubiquitous and the diffuse is hard to comprehend. It is difficult to internalize changes so vast that they become the environment itself. The images comprising the series Delta are part of a long-term project photographing environments undergoing nearly invisible but massive man-made changes. Previous works have explored overgrazing in the desert west and the contrails left behind aircraft that often become man-made overcast.

The Mississippi River Delta is crisscrossed by thousands of man-made canals and ditches. These canals allow salt water to penetrate ever more deeply into the delta, killing the trees that anchor the wetlands. Erosion claims thousands of acres each year and the delta region is sinking at a rate of 4-5 feet per century.

The series Delta images the intersections of man-made waterways with the geological processes of the delta formation and erosion. It seeks to show the almost invisible process consuming the wetlands of southern Louisiana. These works portray what is absent, what has been lost, and reveal the increasing fragility and exposure we are placing ourselves in as we carve our lines into the delta.

via Patrick Craig Manning.