The photographs of Yong Chen capture ghosts—only these ghosts are less folkloric entities than scientifically verifiable interpretations of chance. Natural law is all but universally valid; yet Chen has decided to focus on elementary deviations from natural law. In this way, momentary phenomena like a hug, a roll of the dice, or the genesis of the starry heavens above us become thematized as mysterious, everyday occurrences which we all too often take for granted.
Chen’s palette is strategically adapted to his chosen subject-matter. When making works that deal with the ever-present fact of chance in gambling, the palette takes on a translucent gray color, as though to signify the black and white reality of either winning or losing. When he captures an image of the universe in flux, the gradations of color take on a fiery, luminous quality, which is still restricted in terms of color choice. Indeed, Chen’s works really come alive when they use a muted, simplistic color scheme. As in his photographs of hugs, where the gray softens what might otherwise be too intimate an encounter.