Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mechanical Turk Review of My Work #31

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 31st review I've received:

Shortt’s Shots Paul Shortt is a photographer from Kansas City who has been in shows across the country, from Seattle to New York City. He received his BFA in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute, and is now working on his MFA in New Media from U of I Urbana-Champaign. With an esoteric mix of photography, sculpture and print media, he continues to explore new ways of expression through the arts. The first gallery that caught my eye was “The Car My Father Gave Me.” As I used to work on cars with my father, this title certainly plucked at the heart strings. This is a set of videos relating the various cars that Paul and his father have shared or owned over the years. It clearly meant a lot to him, and it means a lot to me too, as I identify with it closely. 

The next gallery that I HAD to take a look at is Calvinball. For those who don’t recognize the term, Calvinball was a game mentioned repeatedly in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. The rules changed every time it showed up, but it was always clearly a blast for Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. I was very curious to see how Paul would go about bringing this sport to life, and loved the collection. Playing the sport with people who came in off the street, this was a wonderful example of interactive art bringing something from the printed page to life. I really wish I had been there that night. Nimby’s is a very interesting collection of photos with different signs in each. Starting with a sign stating “I’m Fine Thanks” in front of a broken fence, the collection continues on through various signs Paul has placed to try to draw attention or get people to think. My favorite was Big Box Potential, which has the word Potential printed on a cardboard box sign in front of an empty big box store. What a wonderful, hopeful message in front of a type of store that often draws ire from the communities around it. In counterpoint to that hope, Generic Empty House Sign simply states Empty House in a dry lawn, with an arrow pointing to the house. This is certainly a poignant message and commentary on the housing crisis. 

Missed Connections is another great contemporary collection. In this one, Paul takes personal ads modeled after the “missed connections” section on Craigslist and uses them to create handmade text-based pieces. From a sheet cake with an ad written on it, to a beautiful handwritten note in a book in a bookstore (the missed connection in this case mentions Barnes and Noble, so where is it more appropriate to place it?), the collection covers a huge variety of media and locations. My absolute favorite in this case was the piece written in mustard on a Jimmy John’s sandwich and wrapper. If you are reaching out to someone you saw in a sandwich shop, nothing can be more appropriate than this. With a wide variety of media and some amazing creativity, Paul Shortt reaches out to all of his audience members in one way or another. His art shows an active imagination and a real love for connecting with people. If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest browsing his site, or if possible, making it to one of his shows. There is sure to be something there for every taste.