Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #32

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 32nd review I've received:

"Please NO Photos" is a work of both photographs, and film media. There is a large, maybe six foot diameter picture of a camera with a red line through it, which, on the face of a picture, seems to be added by digital design. When a man, Paul himself, presumably, walks on-screen to take away the image which instruct the viewer not to take a picture, which is, in fact, an object the artist is photographing in various public areas. The fact that the courthouse and police station are in use seems to be political, but there is nothing else to let the viewer know how the artist feels about court or police. The total lack of direction is a bit unnerving, and leaves the viewer having to think, something we don't always automatically do. Supposedly raising the cultural awareness banner and shaking it about, Paul has a series of videos of himself doing simple yet poignant acts involving culturally relevant activities. In one such video, he is on a ladder attempting to unstuck an American flag which won't comply with his wish for it to fly at full mast. The music playing in the back ground is an accordion, lending a sort of frenetic air to his inability to raise the flag, and seems to underscore the viewer's own (mounting) anxiety as the pole leans all the way over and Paul raises it while the pole is about three feet off the ground. Strange, but strangely true. 

The artist allows his audience into his private space, he seems to want to show them his failures, and just how lovely failure can be. At the very same time, the boundary of what is relevant and acceptable is being pushed in videos in which the artist simply gets out of his car and gives the wide, corn-eating world, the bird. Is it a comment on driving? Consumerism in America? Loneliness? Anger and depression? Paul has been good enough to leave that to us to decide, for now. There are pieces of art that are supposed to be taken away by the audience and photographed when installed at new locations. The posters, some, only have words on them, and point out that, to change social convention, all the viewer has to do is laugh out loud, hum, or chew with food in their mouth. Most of Paul Shortt's work is of the sort that is tongue in cheek asking its audience if it can laugh at itself, because, indeed, Paul seems readily able to laugh at himself.