Terra Firma, ReTire + Sort
Shoreline Recycling & Transfer Station
A billboard, sound installation, and short film prompt visitors to consider the impacts of waste on the environment.
At the Shoreline Recycling & Transfer Station, King County’s waste is sorted by the ton. Take a trip there and watch as an old couch or a collection of trash bags disappears over the edge of the tipping floor and into the compactor chute. But what happens after we pay our fee and leave?4Culture commissioned Carol dePelecyn to create artwork for the transfer station as it was being designed, which led to the production of a trio of works in different mediums. Fascinated by the strata of earth created at landfills, dePelecyn and photographer Steve McGehee repeatedly visited Cedar Hills, where waste from local transfer stations goes to be compressed into vast landforms. Mount Rainier, perhaps the most iconic symbol of the region’s natural beauty, overlooks the mountain of garbage there. McGehee captured this juxtaposition in his photograph Terra Firma, now installed as a billboard above the station’s public dump site to remind visitors where their unwanted stuff is headed.
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The photograph shows that this waste is affecting our natural environment on an enormous scale and reminds the end-user to think twice about what they are dumping and where it ends up. I wanted to give haulers one large emblematic image that answers the question ‘transfer where?’. –Carol dePelecyn
Waiting in line for a turn at the tipping floor, visitors also hear ReTire, a sound installation that emanates from within recycled tires that were previously used on the scraper trucks that level the landfill. For this work, dePelecyn collaborated with artist Dale Stammen, who recorded natural and human-made sounds in the field, then edited together the compositions and programmed the soundscape. Triggered by the presence of the visitor, random and variable audio tracks speak to the great beauty of the local environment.
The third artwork, dePelecyn’s short film Sort (below) shows recycling in all of its complexity, going behind the scenes of waste management and exploring the dance of decisions and motions that get your trash where it needs to go. An educational component of this project placed artists in residence in at Parkwood Elementary and Meridian Park Elementary. Students learned about recycling and the transfer station while creating their own sound compositions, poetry, and visual artwork.
Together, these artworks bring the importance of waste reduction and recycling to life in a tangible way.
Carol dePelecyn. Sort, 2011. Digital video. Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station, Shoreline, WA. King County Public Art Collection
Carol dePelecyn + Dale Stammen. ReTire, 2008. Digital audio. Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station, Shoreline, WA. King County Public Art Collection