Saturday, March 16, 2013

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: