Photo taken by Chin-yuan Ke during the marine oil pollution of stranded M.V. Amorgos Cargo Ship (February 2001, Longkeng Ecological Protection Area, Hengchun Township, Pingtung County)
The Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC) is pleased to announce its cooperation with China Trust Banking Corporation (CTBC) to launch the “Digitization Project of Wildlife Images.” This digital archive program collects and holds photos captured by Chin-yuan Ke during his 30-year observation on more than one hundred sites throughout Taiwan. In December 2017, the first collection of digital images of Amorgos Oil Spill were open to the public on Cyber Island.
Chin-yuan Ke, a Public Television Service (TPS) program producer committed to environment documentary and information dissemination, started using camera to record natural ecology and environment of Taiwan since 1980. Over the past three decades, thousands of photos and slides have been taken. Yet before all the images and what actually happened to the environment can be widely seen on various information platforms, digitization is a must.
To transform traditional photos into digital images, Chin-yuan Ke began by hiring part-time scanning assistant out of his own pocket, but soon found it time-consuming and himself fighting alone. So, he spent more spare time doing public speaking, and finally earned CTBC’s attention and recognition. ASCDC, while working with TPS on digitizing photo slides at that time, discussed and negotiated with CTBC and Chin-yuan Ke about the possibility of digitizing his photos. They agreed to name the project after Chin-yuan Ke and display the collection on Cyber Island.
Cyber Island was constructed in 2006 as part of the “National Digital Archives Program” (NDAP), aiming at collecting images of Taiwan’s landscape, ecosystem, culture, and folk customs. Hopefully, through this platform and images, the public will be able to preserve and share stories from the past and in present time.
The photos from the Amorgos Oil Spill were among the first collection that underwent scanning in the “Digitization Project of Wildlife Images.” It would not be possible without the funding from CTBC and ASCDC’s expertise/technical support in digital archiving. Upon the consent of Chin-yuan Ke, the photo images have been granted CC authorization (attribution, noncommercial, no derivatives) and are allowed to be exhibited online.
January 14, 2001, a Greek bulk cargo ship, the M.V. Amorgos, ran aground on submerged reefs nearby Longkeng Ecological Protection Area, Kenting. Its fuel oil and iron sand leaked out and contaminated the ecology, corals and marine life inhabiting the pristine coastline. Chin-yuan Ke, working in journalism at that time, came to the scene and recorded the as-yet worst maritime catastrophe in Taiwan since 1977. After that, he has been coming back every year to dive and take underwater photos in the Longkeng oil spill site.
The cooperation project plans to digitize 10,000 photo slides. Image scanning and data key-in for other collection topics has been the continuously ongoing process.
For Ke publicizing images of ecological disaster is not motivated by aesthetic purposes, but by a burning urge to raise people’s awareness of what is happening to the ecosystem of this island and the general care that lies dormant in the public’s heart. Tracking the incident of the Amorgos Oil Spill marks the first step forward – but it would not be the only step that remains on the path.
With its expertise in digital archiving ASCDC will continue the partnership with CTBC Bank to support the preservation and dissemination of Ke’s wildlife-inspired work and faithful documentary, in order to advocate environmental protection for a brighter future of Taiwanese wildlife.