On the border of the real and the surreal, Tong creates images that develop a storyline in the same way a dreamscape does—the imaginary world is strangely familiar while the narrative arc takes us on a hypervisual ride through our subconscious. We know nothing of these characters, they swim, paddle, dive, hang out, yet do not connect. They are very much alone, within themselves, lost in thought.
This conceptual conceit, along with the application of light and color, create an initial impression of paradise, a holiday, a tourist retreat, yet the longer we look the more unsettled we become. You find something askew, and the harmony we experienced on first sight is washed away by a sense that these people are trapped in a prison of their own making. And while we are entranced by Tong’s beautiful photographs, the viewer becomes inherently aware of the emotional charge of each image.