此系列作品的討論請參閱簡麗庭，「給定－繪畫：陳志駒個展」，See Art Space，www.seeart.space/new-page-2
Beyond the everyday life: Zeno Chen’s smartphone photography
Art Critic JIAN Li-Ting
Easy accessibility to specific technology always leads to the openness or liberalization of professional domain. Professional knowledge is released from the few owing the better cultural and economic capital to the public, and more people can participate. From painting, traditional photography, to modern digital photography, the history of image production fully illustrates the process of such technology liberalization, including cost reduction and operation simplicity. However, maybe, only after the invention of smartphone, image production is deeply integrated into daily life, such like selfie, share of life circumstances, photograph notebook, and so on. The key for smartphone photography to be so much penetrating into our daily life is not its function of making images; instead, its easy use and efficient connection to the digital social platform are the reasons for its popularity. And, these also initiate our discussion about Zeno Chen’s smartphone photography.
In fact, Zeno Chen’s artworks are made in two different ways. He has a series of quite time consuming works in which photographs are turned into the elements of an image. By a lot of overlapping photographs with adjusted positions, a property of complexity like a painting is demonstrated. On the other hand, his smartphone photographs are randomly and swiftly created by catching occasional life observations with only simple color adjustment equipped in the phone. If the photograph which is made in his workroom is a painting, the smartphone photograph is more like a sketch which has high flexibility without time or place limitation.
However, although Zeno Chen’s smartphone photography has caught ideas from daily life, the works can not be considered as the reflection of daily life. His intention is not to swiftly record what happens in daily life, like those modern artists in Charles Baudelaire’s book. His works have a very clear axis, emphasizing expression instead of description. In another words, his deliberation for creating images is quite close to that of modern painting. Nevertheless, modern painting can weaken the subject, even making it abstract, by emphasizing the purity of the model structure or the painting material in the process of seeking the surface effects on the canvas. For photography, under the constraints of optics and mechanism operation, a camera still has to be aimed to a real subject. Therefore, photography actually can not be absolutely abstract. The photographer can only make his work “close” to abstract by focusing on visual effects. What Zeno Chen wants to tell in his smartphone photographs is not a record of the life or the subject in the photo, but the visual and the psychological effects created by the photo. Several skills are worthy of paying attention:
1. It’s usually not descriptive when he deals with the scene. In order to catch a whole special model, he often uses strange visual angles without caring about losing focus. Sometimes, he intentionally includes the very far and very near views into his frame to create strong contrast of clearness and fuzziness.
2. He often takes only a portion of a subject with very short distance, so the viewer will lose space coordinate. Sometimes, the scene can not be recognized and the picture tends to be flat and abstract.
3. His photos are often taken through a medium, for example, reflection of mirror, reflection of water with wave, subject through glass with light reflection...etc. Sometimes, by through a medium, he creates a similar multiple image effect like overlapping the photos.
All the above skills relate to each other and are often combined used. In addition, maybe intending to focus the image effect, Zeno Chen’s mobile phone photos are mostly adjusted to black and white, and cut into square, different from the default setting of mobile phones. Care of these details can be considered as his personal style. With flooding images and easy access of mobile phones, to take a photo is definitely not difficult, even the photo quality has can be very difference. In Zeno Chen’s case, artwork ideas, form of works, production procedure, and tool functions are all considered. Only in this way, an artist can break the inertia, and invent his own art language.