Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #26

This is a project where I pay workers on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to review my art and website and pay them $5 dollars for 500 words. This is the 26th review I've received:

This art brings a strange irony and a graceful satire to common dilemmas and nostalgias with which we can all identify. Our search for connection, the challenge of finding it in a fast-paced world that is more interested in stock prices than straight-up conversation—all find a quiet, dignified voice in the photography of Paul Shortt. Many of his projects are a series—a set of photos that all portray a similar lostness, or, in the rarer case, sparks of connectivity, of belonging, of home. Other projects are adventures in creativity, such as hilarious new ways to say hello, all captured on candid film with their laughing executors. The overriding message seems to be the penultimate quest of the human soul—to find a place, to belong in it, to know oneself and find others that will understand. At times we make of ourselves a spectacle, as seen in the “Pillory for Market Place Mall” series, and at times we simply reminisce on the people who created and shaped us, and the remaining symbols of themselves they left behind, such as “The Car My Father Gave Me.” At other points, Paul Shortt invites his participants to take time, to explore themselves. He allows them to find out who they are, and, perhaps more importantly, allows them to come away from the drudgery of their daily life and make a sally into the realm of the undignified, but connected, life he offers. Shortt also makes occasional forays into political and social commentary, as in the “Please NO Photos” set. Additionally, there are also pieces the ways we comfort ourselves, and how we can break out into a more realistic truth. For example, how do you present yourself in a favorable light? You might not realize what rose-colored glasses you wear for the mirror until you see Paul take them off in “The Business of Selling Yourself.” A major advantage of Shortt's work is his willingness to explore and expose his own flawed qualities in his art. The casual viewer will laugh at the joke, but if you look a moment too long you will turn away after your chuckle and wonder, “Am I like that? If I was really honest with myself... what would I see?” When viewing all Shortt's photos, I find myself knowing their subjects, including the artist himself. I realize that the greatest moments of belonging, of connectedness, are sparked when we let go of the rushing pace of our lives, and even let our dignity slip through our fingers a little. When we look a little deeper into his art, we grasp the irony of our efforts to keep it together. Real life is something for which we must make time. Paul Shortt understands the human condition, and has the imagination to explore its limits, its influence, and its expression. I rather envy his participants the insights gained into themselves as they dredged up their most cherished comfort zones to throw in the artistic fire.