Tuesday, December 18, 2012

UIUC Open Studios This Fall.

Ai Weiwei at the Hirshorn

A really well put together show at the Hirshorn in D.C. of the work of Ai Weiwei.
Outside of the great works on view they also had a magazine version of the show catalog that only cost $5, and you were allowed to take photos.

Houses made of tea leaves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #40

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 40th review I've received, and the first to directly address the project: Please note this review is actually almost 1000 words.

I don’t know a lot about Paul Shortt or his work as an artist. In-fact I don’t know much about art either. I do know the masters somewhat and I listen to few classical pieces, know a little Shakespeare but not even, I guess, a fraction of what is required to actually write about art. I just stumbled across Paul as one often does on the internet, those threads intersect, and when requested to review his works, I agreed despite the fact that I know next to nothing about performance art which I think what his niche is. Since I was specifically asked to review the work on his website, I might as well do this by numbers. First up is “Please No Photos”, a series of photographs that pokes gentle fun at overzealous surveillance and how photography is being discouraged in public places. The way it’s shown at the first page on the website, it’s seemingly supposed to be a big thing, some sort of a big work but it’s the blandest of Paul’s works. The photos are lackluster, the message is just lost in lame fun really. But further down the page, the series continues with photos taken in Illinois, and I think these photos are nice, more suited to the theme. The lack of people actually moves the satire center stage and I liked them. Impressive photographs. Contemporary Farewells, New ways of saying goodbye. Meh. How To Be Narcissistic is a drab look at irony and people's perception of themselves and how they want to be perceived. It’s tame and it’s a social exercise but I hate these fucking things where you collaborate for fuck’s sake. As you may very well know, we’re all snowflakes here, unique in our personal bubbles. We are entitled to praise for thinking, we deserve praise for taking out the trash, we deserve praise for saving a fucking baby. But I did like the second video where people are presenting each other with certificates. 

The Car My Father Gave me is the most effective and personal work. Deeply touching. I loved the videos where his father shows off his cars photo by photo, hypnotic. He has a good, honest voice. I would have loved to see his father in the gear shift video though instead of just the voiceover. Literally and Physically is impressive. I love the "Please Do Not Climb On The Sculpture" piece. Reminds of a lot of art and projects today that you’re supposed to get in that perfect skew that the artist intended. I think Paul’s kinda reaching with ROFL CON and his internet allegory. Corner Piece is disturbing. I conformity disturbing in general so… It's Simple, But Complicated. The breakdown video is kinda dumb but "Fly the Flag" is awesome, trying to rescue something he loves that just wants to sink to the bottom of the mud. Printed Participations. I loved "resist", find such work or statement profound. Also "Art Certificates", playful, yes, but also something the viewer can connect with. Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago. More pffftzzz than bzzzzz. Three-Hour Tour. Another of my favorites. I love how the participants interact with such a horridly living place and how that space affects their perception of each other and their experience. Nice. This gives us a glimpse into Paul’s true genius here, when he succeeds in bringing out what he wants in his subjects. Modern Greetings. A look at how detached we have become from each other and our humanity that we do invent these social norms to add spice to our interaction. I guess it’s alright. Nimby's. Commentary on spaces. I really don’t see the point. PSI Paul Shortt Invitational. Now there should’ve been a video here. But the people seem to be having fun in the photos so it must’ve been. But I do like the idea of unique performances daily. 

Seeking Good Conversation. Interesting observation here. Random conversations with strangers, utter social isolation. Second video...awesome… I've lived in the same small town and known the same people for so long, I've forgotten how to make friends. Missed Connections. Best of the bunch. The video makes you so sad for the people depicted and for yourself. There is nothing worse than the thought of a missed opportunity because for most us, it’s not who you could have fucked, it’s who you didn’t love. True, the grass is always greener but it’s gotta be better than the pile of crap you ended up in. Right? And the video conveys that feeling perfectly. The Business of Selling Yourself. Hilarious first photo, made me LOL. But he’s, again, kinda reaching. Does sell himself short sometimes. Collaborations. The thanks notes are nice in a regular way. The double projector video is absolute crap. I mean what the fuck? Probably ruined some perfectly good projectors, it's just art for art's sake. Art should have a tangible meaning, first to the artist and then to the viewer and that's where they make the connection. Second video is crap as well. Art should make you think about the subject or what the artist draws your attention to, it shouldn't puzzle you about its own meaning. But then, fuck do I know. So what else can I say about Paul… He seems humble, has an honest, likeable face and a great personality, you can’t help but like him. And I guess the same can be said about his work. When it’s good, it’s very good and even the crappy pieces look like gold from a distance. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #39

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 39th review I've received, and the first to directly address the project:

Some people believe that art is a passive pursuit; painters create artwork and people simply view and admire it as it hangs in a gallery. Others believe that art is an active experience and involves the community in its very creation. Paul Shortt is one of the latter. This manifests itself even in the fact that I am writing this review. You see, to Paul even his reviews are part of innovative artwork. Let me explain. The reviews that Paul is currently receiving are solicited. Traditionally, artists held an exhibition, invited reviewers and then held their breath hoping that they would receive favorable press. They had little or no control. Paul Shortt is specifically requesting reviews in as part of a project (yes, an art project) to question and discuss how technology has changed the way artists see themselves. Are artists, businesses, indeed even members of the public, affected by the fact that anyone can now write website reviews that can be seen worldwide? Let's take a restaurant as an example. If you've had a great meal, or a disappointing experience when dining out, you can tell the world via the many websites that specialize in restaurant reviews. You can lie; you can be honest; you are free to say exactly what you want. But can these reviews make or break a business? Can they make or break an artist? What are these reviews saying to the general public? Is this giving us an unnatural power or is it for the common good? Are we defined by the number of Facebook friends we have? Does our number of Twitter followers really reflect our popularity? How relevant are our Pinterest boards? Looking at Paul's website and his previous works, it seems that every aspect of life can come under his creative scrutiny. This being said, when Paul embarked on the review project he purposely removed some of his works from his website in order to manipulate - to some extent - the opinions that would-be reviewers would have. Paul’s project began as a reaction to recent press reports that question online reviews on major websites. Who are these people? Exactly why are they motivated to write reviews? What rewards do they receive for their efforts? Paul’s experiment involves soliciting reviews from the general public, not from professional art reviewers. This gives them much the same validity as an average diner reviewing a restaurant as opposed to a professional food critic. Paul has collated the reviews he has received to date into a book and this will become the starting point of his project, opening up the subject of online reviews for debate. When Paul has requested reviews, he has asked the writers to go to his website and ‘write 500 words about the art you see’. I am one of the reviewers attracted to this project. Yet, you might argue, I am not in fact writing about Paul’s artwork. Am I or not? Isn’t Paul’s review project as valid a piece of artwork as his 'Modern Greetings' project where people greet each other not with a handshake but new and unconventional greetings? I believe so.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #38

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 38th review I've received:

"The Please No Photos piece is eye catching, being the first thing you see when visiting paulshortt.com. Checking it out further it was actually for a good cause, its a vocal piece that lets people know we do not want to be monitored on a twenty four seven basis. Also found his earlier works to be really enjoyable. Especially the photos of the ball sack thongs, they were hilarious! Paul Shortt your works are hilarious, I also enjoyed seeing the ""contemporary farewells"" just something to get people laughing, who knows maybe even trying a few for a friendly laugh. I myself have been performing the cellphone bow for years now. This is where you approach your friend while looking down at your phone, look up at your friend and then back down at your phone again. My friend danny does the interesting point, this one is where you point your finger straight out and wave your hand back and forth, except i never reciprocated with the whole waving back part and doing it as well. If you have at least twenty five minutes you can gain from a good laugh if you watch the video that follows in the end of contemporary farewells. This is a soap box performance of Contemporary farewells as part of Hillyer Art Spaces Soapbox performing art series in Washington D.C.. The next most interesting thing to catch my eye was the missed connections section. I thought this could be really funny in reference to the craigslist add for missed connections. when I read on I realized he was reflecting on the lonlieness and disconnection in online dating. I couldn't help but watch the video and I'm glad I did it seems to be a parody on people rereading craigslist add with a video circling the area of where it could have supposedly been for example ""Thursday mall red lobster man dining alone"" LOL is all I can say watch this under missed connections!

This artist is very literal so I checked out literally and physically. The picture of the carpet makes me feel like you could sell that. That's art people can get use out of and joy through. I really enjoyed it and I want to order one now ROFL! In how to be narcissistic people were given a choice of name tags describing a specific narcissistic trait such as, ""I take advantage of other people to achieve my own goals"" and then proceeded to post 5 photos to a social networking cite with egotistical statements such as Me! me! me! on them and created an award for themselves and even gave speeches in a short video at the end this was very entertaining! Still I would have to say I enjoyed the missed connections section the best and even posted the video to my facebook page for my friends to see because I know they would appreciate it too! Its always nice to find a new artist who can see the world in a similar light but also in so many varieties of it."

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #37

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 37th review I've received:

P.S. is an artist who isn't afraid of defining himself but at the same time isn't afraid of change. In one phrase I would describe his art as "the lie that comes from truth." In his artistic venture of shocking Chicago we learn that people may need a shock to gather attention. Yet is it something one would want if it took a 'shock' to gather it? I was impressed and taken by P.S. artwork especially it's contrast. Between 'The Business of Selling Yourself' and 'How to be Narcissistic' we can truly see his intentions. Art is art and one can interpret it as we wish, perhaps I'm defining myself rather than his art...but then again that's his power. When he sells himself he sells his baggage but once it was public it no longer belonged to him...he changed. Concerning narcissism we witnessed a few people praising themselves in self-awarded certificates. Would promoting yourself in such a positive way take away from your persona until you don't belong to yourself and must reinvent? To become an individual and not a brand. This is what P.S. is and what he is not. What we are is what he represents, the moment you know is...is when we slip away. It may seem a bit funny or irrational to believe that our personality dies once it touches the mouths of others but it does. Our soul dies when it interpreted by others, we do not know how to make others live but ourselves. Is it our society? Is it this American Capitalist system that has the audacity to preach 'sharing is caring' but when we grow up it praises competition. We no longer know how to care for one another but rather hurt. We know this, that is why we can never be what others believe we are...even if it is 'we' who insinuated their perceptions of us. P.S. is in search for the core of people, the experience evident in such works as 'Seeking Good Conversations' or his 'Invitational' pieces. I would imagine that people only are who they are at that present moment and no other time because time transforms. An experience with a person can only happen once as his art suggests...it is what makes it important, precious. I would wager that none of us know how to make a friend anymore. It used to be easy as children...we had to have a pair of sneakers or a scooter and we had a friend. What happened to that ease of childhood? How did we loose it? P.S. goes to show us the extent we must go to to find a friend. Can a conversation be sparked? A friendship be discussed? Can strangers become friends? Is it a gimmick now, has it lost its honesty? The kinds of question that aroused in my mind due to P.S. boldness. To embrace P.S. is to embrace the truth that lingers in all of us but to understand him is to realize that no one knows who we are...not even ourselves.

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #36

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 36th review I've received:

Paul Shortt is an eclectic visual artist and his work has much pizzazz and flair. Take for example his “No Photos Collection”. This interesting array of images shows individuals in various setups and different backgrounds, with an ominous “no photography” sign. What immediately stands out is the clarity of the pictures, followed by the interesting backdrops of where the photos were taken. The photos snapped on 14th street in New York City were very striking, particularly a photo of Paul Shortt leaving a store with a “no photo” sign leaning up against a structure. It is the colors and the staging that jumps out at you. The other image that is compelling is the “no photo” sign right underneath a statue in front of a building. There are layers of depth and the black and red colors pop out up against the dull shade of the building. The images speak for themselves and play on the notion as Paul Shortt states the “no photos” symbol implies a prohibition on photography and questions the constant surveillance of public spaces.” Additional photos such as the symbol in front of the Champaign County Courthouse and manufacturing plant invoke a subtle social message as well. Contemporary Farewells is an intriguing collection of abstract and humorous images on the Paul Shortt website. The idea behind the photos is to push the envelope of non-conventional ways people can say goodbye. An example of an outrageous and funny way to say goodbye is The Backwards Clasp. This technique has two individuals facing backwards and moving towards each other until their hands meet. Although not practical, it is definitely witty and clever. The other method of saying goodbye that pokes fun at the culture of today is The Cell Phone Bow. You have two individuals, staring at their cell phones, then look up at each other and back down on their cell phones. The images are in the form of silhouettes and done in black in white, which make the visuals very gripping. 

The Car My Father Gave Me is a more introspective look into the father son relationship that Paul Shortt has with his own father. His father’s account of owning Mustangs and other cars is simply amazing. Conversely, the second video shows the cars that Paul Shortt has owned. In addition, there is another video of Paul Shortt’s father giving a tutorial on how to drive a stick shift to Paul at the age of 30. How To Be Narcissistic highlights images indicative of a very common characteristic, vanity. The first image tells the story, as we see 2 young ladies holding a cell phone in a coffee shop. It sounds ordinary until you look closely at the level of focus and pure joy they have tapping on their phones. There is some cultural irony here as we live in a day and age where cell phones are a necessity. The next images are of handwritten messages on paper that blatantly embrace the meaning of self-arrogance and high-mindedness. Paul Shortt’s photos do several things; they tell a story and have a message. His work embodies a combination of everyday people, inanimate objects and more importantly the message he wants to get across.

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #35

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 35th review I've received:

I think that at first look, this "art" might not be appreciated by a lot of people. I think that it would be quickly dismissed as "out there" or "off the wall." But I think that it is more like an opinion. When you peel back the layers you find a very creative and talented individual. He may not be using his talents in the best manner for all to see, however. Art interpretation is very personal of course and many times all in the eye of the beholder. I would encourage people to look deeper and not be dismissive. That said, my favorite works of art were: The 7 second award. This is a classic for those who have ever spent the afternoon or even days sitting at an art show hoping for someone to appreciate your work, only to have them give it a quick glance and move on. I love this award! The three hour tour. This hospital tour probably was very profound for those who took it. As a hospital volunteer, I would hope that the next tour could include some interaction. The patients would love to have someone just to listen for a little while to their stories. This would mean so much--perhaps the next tour. The free poster. People love this kind of stuff. How could this not be a success? And in any color that you want! I also liked Paul shocks Chicago. This puts an interesting and interactive spin on an art show. Other pieces that I really liked were the Literally and physically things. I loved the corner piece and the Please Do Not Climb on Sculpture. That piece alone, I thought was brilliant! I also liked the Collaborations. 

The Thank you notes were my very favorite piece. Something so simple and so needed were very moving. I would hope this would inspire others to do the same. Missed connections was another piece that was so poignant. I don't know how anyone couldn't have been moved by those. And how clever to display them in that manner. I didn't care for Calvinball. I think this is a display of a talent wasted. It was humorous for awhile, but the creativity could have been used in another way. From the early works, I liked the interactive signs. I am sure people got enjoyment from those. I liked the exit and mechanical. I didn't like the strap-on balls. I know that was early work, but I think it should be left out. I didn't feel that it served a point. It also might be considered vulgar by some. Business of Selling Yourself was an interesting concept, but (pardon the pun) I think Paul was selling himself short. He is talented and probably not an asshole! I think that Paul is maybe not using his talents in the best way. In order to reach a larger audience, he might want to consider a few more conventional pieces. I know that he may think that this would not suit him. And I would not want him to totally do that. I think that if he could mix in the contemporary theater with a few more conventional pieces, he could "speak" to a wider audience. Finally, in the No Photos Please section, I had a love/hate relationship with this. I loved the pictures from Chicago. I think that they were very cleverly done. But, being a native of downstate Illinois, it broke my heart to see in Allerton Park my beloved Foo Dog Garden with a red circle. The sunsinger with the red circle also was not my favorite! All in all I think that Paul has a lot of talent and creativity. Again, my suggestion would be to try and work in a few more conventional pieces to get people in the door and then he could put out his expressive pieces. There are all kinds of art and all kinds of people. I would think the goal would be to reach a kind of middle ground to share with as many people as possible. Good luck with your endeavors!

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #34

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 for 500 words. This is the 34th review I've received:

I love the art on your website. It's very fun, modern and almost like a blog with pictures. A lot of the pictures also have the bonus of coming with a positive message behind it. Make someone’s day better is a great thing. The new ways of saying goodbye under "Contemporary Farewells" are hilarious. I could see those becoming a new trend. I might even have to try some of them out myself sometime. The photos and videos under "The Car My Father Gave Me" are very beautiful. It has great sentiment and also tells a story at the same time, which I really liked. Very Creative and lovely to say the least. The Please NO Photos symbol and pictures are hilarious. It is a very creative symbol and the places it is put make it even better. I wish I could see one of those around somewhere sometime. I bet they do the trick pretty well. How To Be Narcissistic is awesome. I love how the people make their own awards for themselves. The Literally and Physically pictures are cool. I have never seen anything like that, but very much enjoyed it. It's Simple, But Complicated was one of my favorites. The videos remind me so much of something I would do. They were hilarious, and look like something you would see on TV. Printed Participations were really cool. A lot of the pictures look like something that you would see going around Facebook and other popular social networking sites. They were very creative. 

Paul Shorrt Shocks Chicago looks like a ton of fun. I would love to have been there are participated in that. The Three-Hour Tour is probably one of my favorites. That is such a creative and wonderful idea. I hope this one especially gains popularity. Calvin Ball pictures came out wonderful. I love how many of them are motion shots and it almost makes the viewer feel like they are really there playing. Modern Greetings looks like a load of fun, and the people participating in the pictures look like they are very much enjoying themselves as well. I really liked Nimby's pictures too. They would for sure lighten the mood for anyone who saw them. PSI Paul Shortt Invitational pictures turned out great. Just looking at the pictures makes you wish you were there to watch it live in person. The Seeking Good Conversation pictures are wonderful. I love how you spoke to random strangers and left the messages around town. Very cool and I think goes great with the Missed Connections pictures. I would love to see one of those laying somewhere. It would be awesome. The Business of Selling Yourself pictures literally had me laughing out loud. I love the sense of humor in them and love the idea. Collaborations are beautiful pictures. The handwritten messages could really brighten someone’s day. All in all, your art is great. It is creative, funny, and has an awesome message behind it. I would not mind seeing more of it in the future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

5 Star Ratings at MDW Fair

My 5 Star Ratings Project: 

This book presents a collection of 500-word art reviews of my artist website, each produced by users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which enables micro forms of paid labor called HITS (Human Intelligence Tasks). By paying users five dollars each to write a review of my website, I am reacting to recent press that is critical of the validity of online reviews on websites such as Amazon and Ebay. But more critically, I’m interested in starting discussions and asking questions about how technology and the Internet have changed the way artists construct their identities. What does it mean when we can all create our own press? What value does crowdsourced press have both to the general public and to artists?

The reviews selected for this first edition of 5 Star Ratings aim to convey the depth and humor of the reviews I’ve received as part of this ongoing project. Many of the reviews present my work in a favorable light, while others are more critical. Some reviewers try to convey to readers what the work is about while others simply offer their opinions. As a consequence of these reviews I’ve removed or hidden whole sections of my past work in order to focus and define my work as an artist. As this project continues I’m interested in hearing feedback from readers of this book regarding not only the reviews themselves, but also the intent of the project as a whole.

To purchase a copy please see my table at the MDW Fair.  
November 10th and 11th: Open Hours 12 – 6 PM

A $5 discount will be offered to participants for volunteering to be recorded reading one of the reviews.

Click here for a free PDF of the book with a cover created by a Mechanical Turk user. 

Thanks goes to Nick Naughton at La Cucaracha Press in Kansas City for an amazing print job.

My Work Featured in "Political Humor" at Fort Lewis College

My video Fly The Flag is featured in the show Political Humor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Here is more info about the show:

State of the Art: Political Humor

October 25 - November 14, 2012

In time for November's presidential election, the FLC Art Gallery explores the theme of "Political Humor."  Showcasing emerging artists who use satire, mockery, and mirth, this exhibition invites viewers to reflect on democracy and its discontents on the eve of the 2012 elections.  The lineup includes: Roya Farassat, Eric J. Garcia, Katie Hargrave, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Carrie Kaser, George Lorio, Jason Noushin, Brian Piana, Paul Shortt, and Shan Wells.
Political Humor inaugurates our new State of the Art series of theme-based exhibitions, intended to raise thought-provoking questions about the role of contemporary art in today's rapidly changing world.
This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of Friends of the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery.
For more information on the artists please visit their websites by clicking on their name below:

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Photos from my Please No Photos Performance as part of AIOP: Model


Theses are photos from my Please No Photos Performance as part of AIOP: Model.

Here is a link to an interview with my and the artist Steve Rossi about our projects:

More photos of the project can be found on my website: Paul Shortt

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

AIOP Performance Coming Up

(All packed up)

I will be performing in Art In Odd Places in NYC on October 5th and 7th. 
Here is more info on my performance: http://www.artinoddplaces.org/artist.php?subj=218