Amato’s dystopic images of ordinary spaces linked together by the ubiquity of television sets, hovering, embedded, enmeshed into every scene as an alternative oxygen that we breathe in so regularly as to forget that we are breathing. It is a frightening view of a culture no longer able to pause, meditate, experience stillness without images and messages bombarding our senses. It is a warning shot fired perhaps too late. A mirror held up to say “Look, this is us, did you even notice?” Look through these images and then turn your television off.
— Billy Howard
Fear Culture, USA (Narcissus Narcosis)
“I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible.”
Fear Culture, USA (Narcissus Narcosis) is a photo essay that examines the prevalence of the 24-hour cable news cycle in the life of the average American. This series of photographs attempts to highlight how omnipresent the television and cable news are in the everyday public and private environments we inhabit. In these photographs imagery from newscasts of past, recent, and current events are contrasted by happy homes and relatable everyday settings. My purpose in developing this project was to draw attention to how a constant stream of breaking news and imminent threats might have a lasting effect on our collective conscious.
This body of work further serves as a reminder to think critically and act rationally in times of national or international crisis. As a society, we cannot allow ourselves to react to sensationalized news coverage of events similar to those featured in this photo essay, or the crises themselves, with racist or xenophobic tendencies. We cannot allow ourselves to be consumed by fear.
— Michael Amato
Michael P. Amato is a fine art photographer. Recently his interests in media consumption, the concept of an invasion of privacy, and the impact of metadata in aggregate have directed his artistic practice. Growing up, he was raised in a family home without access to cable television. His upbringing informs an interest in consumption of media today, and the impact of how we, as a society, consume.
Michael’s recent bodies of work have addressed the omnipresence of the television in public and private environments, a culture of fear in American society, and the normalization of a loss of privacy rights worldwide. Michael’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, published in a number of print magazines and journals, and featured online in several photography publications and popular platforms. He currently works and lives in Connecticut, USA.