Roof Runners (2015) is a series by photographer and filmmaker Michael Snyder. As an avid traveler and international artist, his work typically explores the intersections of social justice and environmental sustainability as they occur around the world. This series—which depicts people leaping daringly across rooftops—takes a more personal turn, drawing on Snyder’s childhood imagination. In the following project statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explains:
“Car sickness plagued me when I was a child (it still does). While my siblings were able to read or play video games on long road trips, I always had to look out of the window to keep from being sick. To fight the boredom I would project myself out of the car and into the landscape as it passed by. Often, I would imagine myself as a runner, crossing rooftops and hurdling from building to building at high speeds.”
Snyder turns the urban architecture of Columbia Heights (Washington, DC) into a kind of real-world platform game, where the protagonist is a powerful projection of oneself, navigating the world with a sense of adventure and invulnerability. For Snyder, this reinvestment in a youthful fantasy operates as testament to the importance of personally-derived creativity. In a fast-paced world dominated by electronic entertainment, Roof Runners encourages us to return our gaze to the corporeal world for imaginative outlets and self-exploration.