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: http://paulshortt.com/Pay-For-An-Audience-5-Star-Ratings