The Pathfinders Scholarship is awarded (by a selection panel after application and interview) to Balliol finalists. Each selected Pathfinder has a 'project' - something to root their travels across the many states and cities they visit.
My project is entitled: A Photographic Study of Abandonment in the USA and Canada.
When explaining all of this to people I'm usually asked three questions: (i) why photography? (ii) why abandoned buildings? and (iii) why photography and abandoned buildings? As to the first, photography seemed a natural choice as a basis for my project. I lived off almost exclusively rice, porridge and the mould on the wall of the bottom bathroom in 106 Divinity Road for all of Trinity '10 to allow myself to buy a 'proper' camera. Armed with this, my love of photography was born. So, the opportunity to develop my photography skills and travel at the same time, to me, made perfect sense.
To answer 'why buildings?' and 'why photography and abandoned buildings?' I can't do much better than Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. So, I'll just quote them:
Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies
and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.
The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at
some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires.
This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, leads us to watch them one very last time:
being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things.
Photography appeared to be a modest way
to keep a little bit of this ephemeral state.
And this is what I hope to do - though in an even more modest way than Marchand and Meffre.
Some people just won't get it - but that's fine: I don't really get why people like football. All I hope is to do is attempt to add my own little contribution to the preservation of a little bit of the fragility of the volatile change of era and fall of empires that leads us to wonder about the permanence of things.