How do we feel when we watch game shows like Deal or No Deal or reality TV programmes such as Big Brother? Are we sympathetic towards the contestants whose hopes of winning thousands have been dashed? Or are we cynical consumers of a form of entertainment that thrives on exploitation?
By studying the facial expressions of the studio audience, These screen grabs, called Dream Factory, provide the space for us to contemplate the methods used by television production companies to exaggerate the drama and manipulate the viewer’s response. Close ups of pained expressions, terror and tears; this game of life being played out on screen points us to another type of mediated experience – that of victims of tragedy the world over, whose emotional pain is brought directly into our living rooms.
The voyeuristic tendency that compels us to slow down when we see a car crash is the same human trait that has created a market for television such as this. As we begin to understand our position as the viewer, we realize that we are in fact watching ourselves.
Max Houghton - FOTO 8 Magazine 2009