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: