Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #44

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 44th review I've received.

When I first looked over Paul Shortt’s site I wasn’t quite sure how I felt. It’s so often hit or miss as to whether an artist’s works will click with an individual – it’s like blind dating, but entirely for aesthetics instead of sex. My first impressions were of the “Please No Photos” collection. I immediately wanted to dislike this “artist”, because anyone can hold an out-of-the-ordinary item in public and take pictures with it. As I continued to move temporally backwards through the pieces, however, instead of seeing what I viewed as more laziness, I saw a succession of different approaches, art that isn’t just spectacle and a camera, art that doesn’t necessarily get framed, or is even purchasable. That’s when I started to think that my initial impressions warranted further rumination. As it turns out, I found myself enjoying a tremendous number of the projects Shortt has captained over the years. Rather than allow his artistic endeavors to remain passive experiences, Shortt’s works frequently engage the viewer directly, actively, and often physically. Also, as it turns out, he actually seems to put a great deal of thought into the reasoning behind his pieces. For example, the initial “No Photos Please” collection that so dismayed me originally, was seen through a new light when accompanied by the artist’s discussion of the event with another artist. Though it’s still not my favorite, I can at least appreciate the thought that went behind the symbol, and it’s relationship to the medium used. Another thing that won me over was his enthusiasm and honesty. Though I don’t believe Americans need lessons in narcissism, it doesn’t mean it should be wiped from existence- and the idea of a controlled burst of it, almost like a dose of medicine, was quite the idea. It could be a partial reflection of Shortt himself, as his business card project and letters of reference hint at a twisted narcissist residing in his brain. Further pushing this was the use of awards in different projects. Whether arbitrarily awarded and potentially insulting, or self-created, self awarded affirmations, the awards both point out how we seem to be capable or throwing praise at just about any action, all it takes is a piece of paper with a little bit of gold foil to validate the victory. I’m tempted to make myself an award for writing this review. The “It’s simple but complicated” series was a huge disappointment in that there wasn’t more of it. Though the flag one seems to hit one on the head with it’s message, the fact is that the videos are short, enjoyable, and offer the opportunity for more thought if allowed. The kernel of this idea was one of my favorites, but has yet to reach the robustness of some of his other projects. My favorite visual, physical piece was the piece of art that was never meant to be a piece of art – the “free poster”. I want one quite badly – the 24 by 36, because you really have to embrace it. I love the accompanying “Resist” poster as well – but it lacks a directive about nose-picking (a personally favored indulgence of mine against society’s norms). The cherry on top, however, is discovering that this review for which I’ve been recruited , is actually part of a project by Shortt. He’s made an art project out of paying others to talk about his art. It could probably be argued that this connects directly to those strings of skewed narcissism witnessed in other pieces. It could also be argued that this is another example of laziness in a project. It could also be argued that this is awesome, avante garde, etc. Art is about arguing after all. It’s also a ballsy move to pay a stranger money to say whatever they want about his art. I’d have to say that after taking everything in, I’ll probably be looking at this site again, even if I don’t get paid for it. By the way, under the “collaborations” you’ve spelled back and forth “back and fourth” under the video entitled “Making the Wind”. Keep arting.