In 2022,

I've Been Exploring

The Future of Trash

in partnership with Recology & Portland Glean Artist-in-Residency.

Glean (verb) 

“To collect leftovers gradually, bit by bit”

The NW Portland Transfer Station, located in the industrial district adjacent to Forest Park, is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. The station has its own unique ecosystem with its scent of decay, moss, and a hint of cinnamon spice. Its landscape is bordered by concrete and metal, with waves of trash constantly in motion, transforming the surroundings every minute. The station even has 3 resident falcons who manage local rodent populations. 

The Glean residency lasted 8 months with 25+ trips to the Transfer Station, where I scavenged 1,040 lbs of trash. Prior to this experience, I had never experienced where my and our community’s throwaway goes, but working at the transfer station opened my eyes to the sheer volume of waste we create. It was both incredible and harrowing to witness the operations at the station, seeing and working in the constant flood of debris left behind by the residents of our city - which the majority of residents aren’t even aware of.

I hope my work isn’t just appreciated for the design and construction but unlocks your imagination: What might a world look like where we can no longer hide away our refuse? How might we adapt and adopt? What were the towers erected for and what real or imagined cultural references do we impose on them?  

I began to imagine a world where the tides of trash and refuse are no longer kept at bay, where trash has overwhelmed our planet and spilled beyond the hidden places and landfills.

A world where humans have evolved to live a symbiotic relationship with trash, built on a culture of repair, and where the luxuries of new and pristine are no

longer valued.

© 2022 Joshua Sin

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