The construction of the still life image assumes a primacy akin to an act of a sacred ritual. The objects become more than just props for the artists, but objects of power for the Shaman. The still life becomes in effect a shrine, an altar, an offering, a configuration of power to attract and appease the unseen forces.
This work evolved from photographing details of the sets in the I-Traits series. Independently of the series, Chong started to incorporate formal techniques such as making images within a 4x5 inch area. The pictures became so elaborate in imagery and ritualized in process, that it eventually pointed the way for the installation works. Formal techniques such as montage, rephotography, reuse of existing imagery, layering of images, and solarisation figure prominently in the construction of the images.
The still lifes represent the largest portion of the artist’s photographic work. It is also the most continuous, in that he has always assembled objects for photographic documentation, searching with the camera for the hidden meanings for the existence of these things and the spaces they inhabit. Chong is fascinated by how their meanings change in relation to their juxtaposition and arrangement with other objects. This fascination also extends to objects of an organic nature such as bones feathers leaves or shells anything that was once part of a living organism is still possessed of a small amount of its life force. It is this life force that powers the still life, much like the throwing of bones or shells by the shaman for divination, the assemblage of the objects functions in much the same way.