The Cleanroom Paradox

Felix Lenz (AT), Angela Neubauer (AT), Eszter Zwickl (HU)

In 1/60 of a second—corporality captured on a chip. Then, the partition, the dissolution, neutralization, reduction, time passing until technicality becomes an analogy, process an inversion.

Jin is a former Samsung factory worker whose employer failed to acknowledge the lack of adequate precautionary health measures during work procedures. After her time in the industry, she is left alone to deal with the drastic consequences: a kidney cancer diagnosis.

Dismantling the deceptively pristine image of the high-tech industry The Cleanroom Paradox  unveils the systemic suppression of information on occupational and toxic hazards at semiconductor production sites. It is insufficient protection of health, untimely illnesses, and the corporate renouncement of the likely connection of both that are being addressed. Recounting lived experiences, a gradually disintegrating, printed photograph of Jin and a video documenting the portrait’s creation are being superimposed with her own as well as experts’ personal stories, shedding light on the industry’s latent practices.

 

The ink to print Jin’s portrait taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is corrosive and made of chemically dissolved smartphones. The resulting slurry is partly neutralized, then reduced to a thick, black mass, mixed with an adhesive and ultimately screen-printed onto a 100 x 70 cm paper, interweaving stories and fibers within reversion. Analogous to the etching processes affecting the bodies of workers like Jin, the corrosive ink will slowly disintegrate the print over time, skinning a surface under which Jin’s story, amongst others’, is already inscribed in the lower layers. 

 

But this is not only a bodily exposure; the toxicity hidden behind the many steps in semiconductor manufacturing and the extent and effect of the labor necessary to shape high-tech products shifts focus towards the main actors, towards the middle-west, demanding responsibilities.

 

Fates like Jin’s are not isolated cases and can be traced across the industry in the Eastern as well as Western Hemisphere.

In 1/60 of a second—corporality captured on a chip. Then, the partition, the dissolution, neutralization, reduction, time passing until technicality becomes an analogy, process an inversion.

Jin is a former Samsung factory worker whose employer failed to acknowledge the lack of adequate precautionary health measures during work procedures. After her time in the industry, she is left alone to deal with the drastic consequences: a kidney cancer diagnosis.

Dismantling the deceptively pristine image of the high-tech industry The Cleanroom Paradox  unveils the systemic suppression of information on occupational and toxic hazards at semiconductor production sites. It is insufficient protection of health, untimely illnesses, and the corporate renouncement of the likely connection of both that are being addressed. Recounting lived experiences, a gradually disintegrating, printed photograph of Jin and a video documenting the portrait’s creation are being superimposed with her own as well as experts’ personal stories, shedding light on the industry’s latent practices.

 

The ink to print Jin’s portrait taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is corrosive and made of chemically dissolved smartphones. The resulting slurry is partly neutralized, then reduced to a thick, black mass, mixed with an adhesive and ultimately screen-printed onto a 100 x 70 cm paper, interweaving stories and fibers within reversion. Analogous to the etching processes affecting the bodies of workers like Jin, the corrosive ink will slowly disintegrate the print over time, skinning a surface under which Jin’s story, amongst others’, is already inscribed in the lower layers. 

 

But this is not only a bodily exposure; the toxicity hidden behind the many steps in semiconductor manufacturing and the extent and effect of the labor necessary to shape high-tech products shifts focus towards the main actors, towards the middle-west, demanding responsibilities.

 

Fates like Jin’s are not isolated cases and can be traced across the industry in the Eastern as well as Western Hemisphere.

vimeo.com/502079708

A project by: Felix Lenz, Angela Neubauer, Eszter Zwickl

Produced at and supported by: Design Investigations (ID2) University of Applied Arts Vienna

Video director, cinematographer, editor: Felix Lenz
Video co-directors and story editors: Angela Neubauer, Eszter Zwickl
Sound design and mix: Lisa-Maria Hollaus
Voice editors: Ganael Dumreicher, Lorenz Embacher
Interviewees: Jin [name altered], Seong-Ho Jeon, Seung-Gyu Jo, Dr. Richard Clapp
Interpreter: Semi Kwong
Screen printing specialist: Ute Huber Leierer
Special thanks to: SHARPS

Felix Lenz (AT) is a research-led artist, designer, and filmmaker based in Vienna. His analytic investigations in geopolitical, ecological, and technological matters translate in multifaceted visual outcomes, installations, and strategies. Lenz’s videographic works and installations have been exhibited at international museums, festivals, and conferences. Angela Neubauer (AT) is a young creative from Vienna. Driven by curiosity, she is exploring and creating artistic work that reflects and incorporates her interests in social and natural sciences. Her latest projects aim to inform, engage, and raise questions through the means of design and storytelling. She is currently studying Design Investigations at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Eszter Noémi Zwickl (HU) is mostly focusing on social and cultural issues through art and design. She works with different media such as language and writing as well as moving imagery. Her writings, drawings, and designs were exhibited in Labor Galerie, Budapest. She is also participating in fundraising projects with other Vienna-based artists and designers.

Felix Lenz (AT) is a research-led artist, designer, and filmmaker based in Vienna. His analytic investigations in geopolitical, ecological, and technological matters translate in multifaceted visual outcomes, installations, and strategies. Lenz’s videographic works and installations have been exhibited at international museums, festivals, and conferences. Angela Neubauer (AT) is a young creative from Vienna. Driven by curiosity, she is exploring and creating artistic work that reflects and incorporates her interests in social and natural sciences. Her latest projects aim to inform, engage, and raise questions through the means of design and storytelling. She is currently studying Design Investigations at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Eszter Noémi Zwickl (HU) is mostly focusing on social and cultural issues through art and design. She works with different media such as language and writing as well as moving imagery. Her writings, drawings, and designs were exhibited in Labor Galerie, Budapest. She is also participating in fundraising projects with other Vienna-based artists and designers.