Orchid Tierney

Penn Humanities Forum Graduate Fellow

20172018 Forum on Afterlives

Orchid Tierney

Doctoral Candidate, English

A doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania, Orchid Tierney researches landfills and their relationships to contemporary poetry, poetics, and media. Her dissertation draws on interdisciplinary methodologies from discard studies, media archaeology, and the digital humanities to explore the issues related to contemporary waste displacement and the afterlives of toxic discards in media art and poetry. She received an MCW from the University of Auckland in 2010 and an MA in English from the University of Otago in 2013. 

Material Poetics and its Afterlives: Landfills, Waste, Media

For some multimedia artists and poets, the landfill and its contents are urban pastorals that define communities and shape urban real estates. The aestheticization of electronic waste, trash, and the landfill can also confront the narratives of progress and consumption practices that transform biodiverse ecologies and leave people vulnerable to toxic traces of civilization. This project explores the landfill as an environmental archive of material cultures in order to apprehend its site-specific, aesthetic, and rhetorical afterlives in new media art and poetry.⁠ To this end, this project asks: Do trash geologies provide an afterlife for new media art? What kind of persistent media is the landfill? How does new media art and poetry attend to the persistent toxicity of its materiality?