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From Sand to Ash

Woong-jae Shin | South Korea, Indonesia, Bolivia, Japan

The biggest tin mine in Bangka Island is seen in Pemali, Indonesia on May 8, 2016. Miners work illegally in a pit. Tin is one of the most essential material for the manufacturing of semiconductors and electronic components. Bangka Island has been one of the world's principal tin-producing centers and it amounts to 30% of global tin production. For more than 300 years, tin mining has been the main industry of Bangka Island, and 60% of Bangka residents are engaged in tin industry. However, in the past decades, worldwide demands for tin have brought out countless illegal miners, and the whole island is facing serious environmental destruction and human exploitation as consequences. Recently, the Indonesian government initiated regulation on tin production and distribution to protect tin industry and environment.

The Semiconductor. It's the backbone of the digital era. The CPUs in aPC, the memory chip in cell phones, and even the display unit of a TV, semiconductors invisibly sustain our daily lives from the inside of these devices. Yet we lack knowledge about the semiconductor in terms of its manufacturing process, which results in enormous human cost, sacrifice, and even environmental destruction.

This project aims to bring awareness to human consequences and environmental destruction throughout the whole electronic industry by following the life cycle of a semiconductor chip, which is the most essential component of all kinds of electronic devices.

The project will consist of four chapters, which deal with conflict materials and mineworkers, sickening manufacturing workers, consumer side, and e-waste. Photo essay, landscape works, video and interviews will build up narrative structure. A web based cross media platform and book will be the final outcome.

I believe that the act of photography is more than capturing a moment into a frame. A deliberately made photograph can awaken our minds, leading our senses to greater awareness and, possibly, inspiring our souls to bring about necessary change. Hence, photography to me is not only a tool of self-communion but also a tool of witnessing and testifying on the human condition, which demands uncompromising commitment and responsibility to the subject. I wish my photography to be a catalyst for people to eventually bring about a positive impact on our society.

SHARPS (Ban-Olim)

The activist group are composed of independent labor unions (KCTU), human right groups, occupational safety and health (OSH) groups, progressive political parties, and workers’ organizations against Samsung.




An environment protection NGO in Indonesia.



450 W 42nd St. Apt# 25M, New York, NY 10036

(US) +1.917.838.7448 / (KOR) +82.10.9287.1959



Regions / Countries:

_South Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Ghana, DRC


Companies in question:

_Samsung Electronics, RCA, SK Hynix, Foxconn


Narrative structure (4 chapters):

_Mining/materials (tin, silicon, tungsten, etc.)

_Manufacture workers

_Consumer side



Stage, shot so far:

_Former Samsung semiconductor workers who suffered from critical decease (cancer, leukemia, MS etc). published already - links below

_Bangka island, Indonesia, a 300 year old tin mining site, providing world’s 30% of tin resources

_Scenes of people using electronic devices in daily lives.


Entry points:

_The life cycle of semiconductor chip, the most essential component for all electronic devices

_IT industry




_Stills, video and interviews. Intended format - multimedia piece


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