Dan Mariner Traces the History of Edwin Drake

Dan Mariner is a 33 year-old British photographer based in Bodø, Northern Norway. After studying documentary photography, he started to work as a freelancer on editorial and magazine commissions, as well as developing his own research based projects. His main interest lies in anthropology, his work explores the coexistence of humans within the natural world, as his series Drake’s Folly attests.

Younger, Dan loved to immerse himself in National Geographic magazines as he has always been a visual person. But it was only at the age of 18 that he really started to take an interest in photography as he realized that he was passionate about the practice and wanted to focus all of his attention on it. The medium has a singular power to him: “Photography enables me to show the world an interesting subject in a way that moving image or speech often fails to convey.”

His series Drake’s Folly is an in-depth research on a history that many don’t know about: the origin of oil consumption.

“Photography enables me to show the world an interesting subject in a way that moving image or speech often fails to convey”.

It takes place in the town of Titusville in Pennsylvania, USA, where in 1859, the fledgling Seneca oil company sent retired railroad worker Edwin Drake to search for a liquid in the hope that it could be used to heat peoples homes.

Drake encountered a lot of difficulties because of collapsed drilling wells and impenetrable bedrock which lead the company who sent him to abandon him. He eventually drew the mockery of the inhabitants who dubbing the site of operation “Drake’s Folly”… But “after much ridicule, on the 27th of August 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania and at a depth of 69.5 feet, Drake’s drill made its first full extraction from deep under the bedrock.” He became the first person to discover and successfully extract crude oil for commercial use. “Unbeknown to him, Drake’s drilling method would […] enable America and the rest of the world to kick-start an industrial revolution never seen before and radically transform the evolution of human civilization.” 

Dan Mariner’s website.

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