Saturday, March 16, 2013

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #55

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 55th review I've received.

The exhibition title “How To Be Narcissistic: A Workshop and Performance ” seems to be an appropriate title for the art show laid out on artist Paul Shortt’s website. From the very start, I loved the work. The works were unique in composition and a very interesting look at the “self” and outside perception of that self. The more I saw and read supplemented my enjoyment of the exhibit when I was able to put it in the context of exhibitionism and voyeurism. Contemporary media has inundated us with the minutia of everyday life of our peers. We are encouraged through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and many others to share our faces, feelings, and actions. Then there are the interactive reality shows, which push individuals to live together in a proscribed setting in order to film whatever action results. The individuals on these shows are showcasing their lives as theater for a captive television audience. But then, because there is an audience, the reality stars change their behaviors and raise the level of exhibitionism. Additionally, this exhibit prompts a discussion of surveillance and voyeurism, prompting a critique of the “Big Brother” style security found in today’s airports, buses, city streets and stores. The title “How To Be Narcissistic: A Workshop and Performance ” juxtaposes the relative safety of a workshop and forces us to consider if such exhibition on a public stage is necessarily innocent and is perhaps a very dangerous force. The more I saw and read supplemented my enjoyment of the exhibit when I was able to put it in the context of exhibitionism and voyeurism. This show made me question the idea of a static “artist” and “viewer” and consider that art can be a dynamic collaboration between the two. The expectations and preconceived notions that the participant or “narcissist” brings when they enter the room impact the art to the point that it changes its meaning. Conceptual art is art in which the idea of the work takes precedence over traditional aesthetics. A renaissance art scholar would look at some of Shortt’s work and definitely not call it art, however it is still art because an artist is a person who makes the viewer think about a concept or idea or wrestle with something they had never considered before. His art falls into this category of conceptual art and I think he does a magnificent job in making the viewer think. Beyond that I found the photographs on the website not incredibly aesthetically pleasurable, but rather more of a record of an event, which was much more journalistic, in a sense. The type of activity plus these journalistic type photos drew out the comparison to Facebook even more for me. I imagine it was incredibly worthwhile to be present at this exhibition/activity and would give the viewer a very different conception of the art. The difference between reading a friend’s description of a vacation and “Liking” it on Facebook is similarly very different from actually physically sitting down, having a drink with that friend, looking through physical photos and chatting about the trip. Overall, I enjoyed looking through Shortt’s art and will keep tabs on his art and work in the future.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #54

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 54th review I've received.

First and foremost, I am writing a review of Paul Shortt's work for Amazon's Mechanical Turk. I am being paid $5 to review this work, but the only reason I am even mentioning this fact is because this artist has made a work of art out of a collection of reviews of his work that he received from Amazon Mturk. So I am going to review this piece of work. It is titled "Pay For An Audience: 5 Star Ratings" What an interesting concept. The title itself isn't necessarily indicative of what an artist paying for reviews will receive - for example, there are a few submissions where paid crowd-sourced reviewers did not actually give a 5-star review and called his work amateurish and some people who were not impressed with his website, but overall, I believe that the idea of the work is to show that any artist can pay for maximum favorable reviews and propel themselves as groundbreaking top-tier artists regardless of talent, ability, or skill. The other art featured on Paul's website are typical art pieces: some are more impressive than others, sets of pictures focusing on topics that may or may not invoke any sort of emotion in the audience. I personally believe it is almost artistically-criminal to pay for favorable reviews in this manner - but in all actuality, its a small scale version of the exactly same mass media induced version of artists that have been picked and chosen by the media elite and chance and happenstance of breaking out in a sea of nearly infinite artists. So Paul has done what is nearly impossible to do with a much larger budget: create an exhibit, create a buzz, and create a brand new concept in one single swoop. Make a splash, make an impact, make a new piece of art that has never been done before. Brilliant! It has been months since I've seen an original piece of art such as this. Art itself is problematic in this day and age. Photoshop isn't even a luxutry anymore, free versions of it are all over the place online and for a cell phone and Adobe themselves recently gave away the entire CS2. Part of the problem in the day and age we live in is that way too many people have access to high-end DSLR cameras and go out snapping shots and believe that they're professionals. Part of the problem is that we live in the era of Instagram filters making everybody who owns a smartphone or iPod a wannabe artist. And part of the problem is that crowd-sourced paid reviewers are commonplace in this day and age. By drawing attention to these matters, Paul has created a work of art in itself. A powerful statement to the modern artist of the year 2013, and an original idea that brings forth the existence of this very writing. Bravo to Paul, I believe that the future will bring forth many successful concepts and purity that art demands in order to exist as anything more than commercial intellectual property... and how ironic that I base this statement off of his concept-art piece that is the exact opposite of this.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #53

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 53rd review I've received.

My initial and overall impression of Paul Shortt's work is that it falls into what most people would consider 'modern art'. Whether or not Paul accepts that term is unclear but there is a certain post modern feel to much of the installations and projects detailed on his website. That was my initial impression, however, it was not my sole impression. I didn't feel like the work was uninteresting or unengaging. I would say my deeper impression was that Paul is somebody fascinated with the human condition and how we need to relate to the world around us. He does have areas where he focuses on introspective ideas, notably the portraits (although this is not strictly art by Paul, it is presented on his site) and The Car My Father Gave Me. 'Please No Photos' brings into question the public reaction to something that symbolizes privacy. In a culture where everything is constantly uploaded to social networking sites, the 'no pictures' symbol is no longer seen as just an establishment rule, it could, theoretically be seen, as a direct attack on the way many perceive their own personal freedom. 'Modern Greetings' is perhaps the most typical work by Paul as it seems to incorporate many of his ideas into one project. The project deals with modern communication, social structures, and a certain degree of humor and participation. The photographs depict what appears to be quite an enjoyable event whereby participants perform inventive ways to greet as substitute for the norm. I think this focuses on two things: the relevance our communications have to our every day lives and how people react to stepping outside of their comfort zone. 'Missed Connections' is particularly interesting as I feel that it touches upon quite a distinct issue that almost everybody can relate to. The process of finding love, or even just general companionship, in the modern age can feel somewhat restricted and inaccessible, due to intense social structures and the pace at which many live. This project takes the online ad and puts it actually in the location (via a physical format) that the ad is referencing. This confronts passersby with the loneliness that can exist outside of a normally sterile location (such as starbucks) and the type of thoughts and needs that can be found in a truthful place (such as craigslist). It's confrontational, but makes quite a profound point. In conclusion, I think Paul's greatest attribute is that he never does the same thing twice - he has a theme to his work that incorporates thoughts of sadness, isolation and humor, but the projects individually manage to convey a new message each time. The other good thing about his work is that he enjoys outsider participation, this is typically a good sign that the artist has a need to connect artistically with those around them. I think that he's quite adept at zoning in on the essence of his work in the way that it is presented on the website - there isn't too much in the way of written text, he instead prefers to focus on the right images to convey the art. The old cliche that goes a picture is worth a thousand words is certainly true and it is testament to Paul's ability to relate on an artistic level that he opts to use images over text.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #52

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 52nd review I've received.

Paul Shortt First of all I must confess I know next to nothing about art, especially modern experiential or installation art. Having said this I will be approaching this review and critique of Paul Shortt’s work as any layman or member of the public would. I will be using common sense, my opinions and relating my interpretation which should be relevant to most people. Having looked at Paul’s portfolio of work at http:, I must say I wasn’t that impressed at first. All of his current work appears to be abstract and incoherent ideas expressed in physical manifestations, such as actions, signs, etc. There’s a sense that he’s being too clever and trying very hard, but the overall effect is negligible. Whether this is a fair comment or not I’m also not qualified to determine. Without being overly critical, it didn’t help that the people and objects featured in his recent work didn’t seem that interesting, the shots taken seem to be rushed and not very well done in terms of angles, lighting, etc. I’m not expecting professional photography as such, but with cluttered and rushed photos of his recent work Paul’s not really doing himself much justice. At this point I was about to give up, there was no way I’d be able to write 500 words on something that just wasn’t that appealing and interesting to me. Just out of curiosity, however, I looked through Paul’s CV and also clicked on his “early work” link. I’m very glad I gave Paul and his website a couple more minutes of my time and attention, because the quality of his earlier work, in terms of ideas, concepts and humour was just far more superior and a real revelation. Paul only featured two earlier pieces of work. The first one is interactive signs, which can be described as experiential art as people follow directions of strategically placed signs with matching font, look and feel and context to its immediate surroundings. The second piece is strap-on ballsacks, which is funny and also has the potential to shock. The idea is to make people think about sexuality and gender, in very public places rather than in an environment in private where most people are more comfortable with. Consistent with both pieces of work, and also extending to his more recent work but far less focused, are the ideas that people should try to experience their everyday environment in a different way (interactive signs) and notions of power and masculinity (strap-on ballsacks). Perhaps I’m being unfair when I say his recent work has lost focus, but in comparison to his earlier work somewhere along the line the simplicity of idea and message has been lost. If I may be so bold, I’d suggest Paul re-examine his earlier work and focus on the clarity of idea, simplified messaging and tidy execution in his future work. Perhaps I just don’t get his newer stuff, and to be fair after examining his earlier work in detail and then coming back to his recent work, everything sort of started to make a little bit more sense, but not much. Maybe we just need to spend more time with it before we start to appreciate the subtleties and meaning of his recent work. I just don’t know.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Friday, March 08, 2013

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #51

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 51st review I've received.

I have to admit that I’m not the most savvy or knowledgeable person when it comes to art. There are some artist names and works that I’ve seen and heard about while watching TV, such as Rembrandt, Gough and Picasso. I’ve also draw sketches occasionally in my free time so I am familiar with some simple techniques such as shading and cross hatching. With that out of the way, when I came across Paul Shortt’s art website, it was not what I was expecting. My first impression of Paul Shortt’s art was that it was just a bunch of random photographs and if this was art, well then anyone could do this. There didn’t seem to be much thought put into the stuff on the website. I watched his breakdown video under the “It’s Simple, But Complicated,” category and it just looked like a ticked off lunatic flipping people off. Who was he flipping off, anyway? There were no other cars on the road or people in the video. Maybe it was his subtle way off saying ‘fuck you,’ to the world for screwing him over so many times. I even glanced through the “5 Star Ratings” art reviews to try to get some perspective, but it all felt fake and manufactured knowing that these people wouldn’t have give this website one look if they weren’t being paid to do so. On the other hand, the same could be said for me. A bit frustrated and confused with what I had seen so far, I decided would come back to it another day. After browsing through the website and not really understanding how the content on it could be categorized as art, I considered that maybe I was viewing these pieces from the wrong point of view. I didn’t consider his works “art” because I didn’t see anything technically pleasing or aesthetically appealing. However, after mulling over my thoughts and looking through more of his work, I came to the conclusion that his art had a social aspect to it. I think Paul Shortt’s art looks to connect people emotionally and socially and when I interpreted his works in that manner I was able to understand how earlier reviewers could classify these projects as art. One piece that resonated particularly with me was under “The Car My Father Gave Me.” I particularly enjoyed the video where Paul Shortt’s father is going through all the cars he had owned throughout his lifetime. I particularly liked how the video was shot with the close-up of the pictures of the cars and the most you can see of Paul Shortt’s father is his left hand. As I watched the video, I felt as though I was right beside Paul Shortt’s father as he described the story behind each car he had owned. It was as if I was living through part of his life as he detailed all those vehicles. Another piece I enjoyed looking through and did a great job of capturing emotional and social connections was “Modern Greetings.” It was interesting to see people try out these goofy and whimsical ways of addressing one another. The greetings brought a bit of lightheartedness to the act of welcoming a person and, at least I feel, refines the age old tradition of the handshake. Overall, I am glad I decided to take this assignment on and feel that it empowers the average person to go out there and create their own art.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #50

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 50th review I've received.

A lot of Paul Shortt’s work is about connections between people. Shortt's series "Missed Connections" instantly caught my attention because of the way it takes existing narratives and puts a twist on them. By transposing these short, often one-sided dialogues from the Craigslist website to the location from which they originated, Shortt offers a chance for the missed connection to take hold. As a viewer, I connect with these pieces because they offer hope at the same time as they are beautifully hopeless. There is something absurd about seeing these narratives jump from the computer screen to the physical world, and the absurdity makes me pause and think about the separation between the online realm and the everyday, and how the two can merge. “The Car My Father Gave Me” is another piece about connection. In the first video, “My Fathers Cars,” we see the worn hands of a mechanic flip through photos of various cars he has owned. His informality in presentation and speech really enhances the piece, I feel, because it lends a certain authenticity that we would not get if he simply narrated a slideshow of the images. We begin to really feel the connection between father and son in the videos “Mine” and “Learning to Drive a Stick Shift.” This series gives a real sense of a son trying to understand his relationship with his father. Rather than directly approaching the topic, father and son engage in activities of sharing information and knowledge, which, I suppose, act as proxy for sharing love. “Printed Participations” toes the line of absurdity when it addresses the connection between the artist or maker and the audience. Inherent in the work is the act of a viewer acquiring the piece and deciding what to do with it. I like the idea of viewer participation. It engages and excites the viewer because they get a chance for their action to become part of a work of art. This series also begs the question of “What is art?” which is always a nice question to drive yourself crazy with. “Pay For An Audience: Five Star Ratings” (which I can only assume I am now a part of by writing this) is about a different sort of connection, between a buyer and seller. By paying viewers to write a review of his art, Shortt is playing with the idea of commodification. What is the value of a purchased reaction? Can you be certain that these reviews are honest and true? What effect does the money have on what the reviewer will write? Like “Printed Participations,” an interaction between the artist and someone else becomes the work of art. As a participant, I am in the unique position to be observing this piece while I am a part of it. If I were to start typing nonsense or inflammatory remarks, would my review be printed? Would it have any value? I didn’t read any of the other reviews. I wonder what they have to say about it.

For more info on this project please check out my website:

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #49

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 49th review I've received.

Paul Short is an artist with a slight nod to the absurd. Which is okay, everyone needs to be slightly absurd. In “Contemporary Farewells”, Paul shows ways to say good-bye ranging from what might be considered almost a fraternity styled backup maneuver involving clasping of hands to a maneuver styled to look like the Statue of Liberty. Anyone looking at this might think that they are looking at two people from the same club bidding each other adios, but instead these are ways that Paul seems to think would be a more likely acceptable way to say, “Aloha” for almost anyone, from the five year old looking to its playmate with an imaginary baby, to the two teenagers engaging in avoiding the finality by looking at their phones. “Modern Greetings “is not a nod to the process of handshaking, but rather an alternative to handshaking. Ways to greet include: “The double whack,” which is similar to paddy cake-paddy cake, but entirely not as it is done with hands backwards. “Shaky Hands” is somewhat non-gender specific and involves too much closeness for most hetro-sexual males. “Side Bump” seems to be homage to O’Hare International Airport and what happens when a traveler is late and running against the crowd. “But Bump” is similar to a move perfected in a New York City apartment kitchen. Apparently, the people who are doing “The Cellphone Rub” are not sending data to each other’s phones as much as they are greeting one another. Cats have been known to do such things with their faces. “The Extended Armpit” is not testing each other’s deodorants ability to “cut it” but is a happy hello to your fellow human. All things considered a very funny unique bit of art on display. In “How to be Narcissistic”, Paul shows a performance art workshop of sorts, people clamber together to celebrate and wallow in the awesomeness that is themselves. Included in this are instances of people listing their best qualities, making what can only be thought of as admissions of greatness and drawing self-portraits and taking pictures of themselves. This culminates into making awards for themselves and is concluded with a “Grand Exit”. Funny and frivolous, in all actuality, a function that should be attended by every individual at some time or another and cherished and remembered by all by framing the resulting “Award for Awesomeness” and sticking it in a place in an office where all can peer upon it’s grandness and ponder. Last but not least, “Please No Photo’s” is a wonderful work of sign art and the ability of the average human being to not give a rip about what the sign says. It also engages minds in almost a teeter totter of lonesome wonder as it tries to come to grips with the idea of photo’s being taken of a sign that says, clearly, “No Photo’s”. Somewhat like a bowl of plastic fruit it begs to question its own existence. Photos of the “No photo” logo are taken in various places throughout a city and in places where photos would be most certainly taken. A favorite photo for most fans would have to be the Japanese tourist, taking a photo, of the “No Photo” logo.

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #48

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 48th review I've received.

When I first thought of reviewing an art website, I imagined it would be a boring task. I expected to see a website filled with paintings that were priced too high and a needy sales pitch. I was pleasantly surprised when I viewed Paul Shortt's website. It was visually appealing and had different content such as videos, pictures and hilarious commentary. At first I was a little confused as to where the paintings were. When I was clicking on the links, I realized this was a much more developed art website. I truly laughed when I was looking over the "How to be Narcissistic" project. It was a project which I'm sure made the artists think about their good qualities but to the viewer it was hilarious. The artists drew self portraits and wrote things like "nice rack" on their best qualities list. There were badges with narcisstic qualities like "I use other people for my own personal gain." I loved that, it was a humorous play on personality flaws that we all have but almost never admit. The work seems lighthearted and fun to me. I enjoyed the website because of the randomness of projects. I feel I will visit this website in the future just to see the new projects and commentary. It feels to me like Paul Shortt's work is an example of how art and beauty can be found anywhere, from people on the street to a hilarious sign on a stairwell. I felt uplifted after viewing his website. It was fun, new and went far beyond my expectations. I liked the commentary and projects that were unexpected and clever. I liked how there were videos included in the different projects. They were high quality and ran smoothly. I was half way expecting it to freeze my crappy, college student budget computer, but it didn't. I liked the mix of humor and seriousness in the projects as well. I loved the carpet that said "Roll on the Floor Laughing" it was a true example of the unexpected and untraditional art pieces that Paul Shortt creates. The art work is different and stands out from the rest of the crowd. When someone says they are an artist, I usually think of random colors and lines that make no sense to me. The kind of art found on eBay that seems like it took a half hour to make and is being sold for hundreds or thousands. His art is different, a play on the random and humorous art we experience day to day in life. Overall my impressions of Paul Shortt's website are positive. I enjoy the sense of humor he expresses in his artwork and art projects. The quality of his work are eminent and profound. I thoroughly enjoyed the content on his website and plan to visit it again in the future. I was never a big art fan, but the artwork here is different and appealing, more-so then his peers in the art industry.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art # 47

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 47th review I've received.

As a photographer and someone who has been drawing with charcoal and pastels since she was seven, I thought that it would be wonderful to review someone’s art website – and be able to make a few buck while doing it! It was definitely an eye-opening experience about what I have been considering art. I never really thought of something like a video of someone showing picture after picture of cars that they have owned art. I’m not entirely certain that I still consider some of the works on this website art, but I can say that I am highly impressed by Paul Short’s work. I think that he has a lot of interesting points to make, and that he comes up with some creative ways to make those points. That being said, I was very amused by the “Contemporary Good-Byes page” and “How to be Narcissistic” pages. Although I don’t necessarily consider the latter art, because it seems more like just a workshop to me, I think that it says a lot about self-esteem. I also think that you can tell a lot about a person by the products that they come up with in this workshop. People who have really low self-esteems would have an issue with this workshop, and people who have really high self-esteems would come out with totally different results (such as longer lists, longer speeches, etc.) The “Contemporary Good-Byes” project was very amusing to me – especially the video with examples of the good-byes. I think that the book would be very interesting to own, and would be something amusing to share with friends. I think one of the most interesting things that he is doing is these reviews. I think that it is very interesting that he is soliciting his own reviews as a way to show the differences in how artists create press for themselves. It is a bold statement – insinuating that artists can create their own good press by picking and choosing the reviews made by others or writing their own reviews under a different name. However, Paul Short is including even bad reviews in his book and on his web page, so it seems to me that this project is less about creating his own favorable press and more about the point that he is making by doing the project. This says a lot of me about his intent to make the points that he is trying to portray in his works. I think that Paul Short has a lot to say about the human condition, and that he is trying to find new and interesting ways to get those points across; however, I am unsure about the terming of some of his works as “art.” With his “Please No Photos” project, it felt to me that a lot of the pictures were just snap shots – something that anyone could snap away with a point-and-shoot camera. Some of the pictures seemed very similar to tourist pictures. As a photographer, this kind of bugged me, because I spent a long time learning how to create art with my camera; however, I think that his finding a “different” way to discuss this aspect of the human condition was very interesting. I don’t know, for sure, what I would call some of his work, but I think it is a genius way to discuss some points that should be made. Bravo!