Paul Shortt’s art is a contemporary look at the world around us. I find the way that he portrays and plays with life twisted and inspiring. I find myself nodding in agreement with and chuckling to myself about the way he pokes and prods social stigmas and cultural phenomena. A few of his projects really stick with me. I’d like to explore my thoughts and reactions further. The project that made the biggest impression on me is the one I am participating in as I type. It’s called “5 Star Ratings”. Paul explores the idea of buying your audience. In this piece, he pays participants $5 to write a brief review of his art. Though Paul doesn’t ask the participant to respond in any particular way, participants (myself included) are inclined to point out positive aspects in order to please our employer. Paul then goes further to ask: Do we really ever know if art is any good? If a good audience can be bought, is the actual art even relevant to the success of an artist?
Another project I liked was “Literally and Physically”. In this installation, Paul explores different phenomena from everyday life and invites the viewer to physically participate in it. My favorite piece from the installation was the ROFL carpet. Those who use the “Rolling on Floor Laughing” abbreviation (obviously) do not physically roll on the floor while they laugh, And, if my experience is like most, in reality, they probably barely chuckle. Paul’s carpet invites the viewer to physically roll and laugh on the carpet. The irony and sheer hilarity of doing such an oddball thing would be fun and make a great memory. It would also introduce the question of: How much do we just “go through the motions”? I also really enjoyed “Missed Connections”. On occasion, I like to read the missed connections section on Craigslist. Some people are so desperate for love. I believe that Paul really delves into the idea that if you had really missed a “connection”, there is more you could do to see that person again. Paul writes with mustard, icing, and lipstick in his ironic “search for love”, while the actual lovebirds took only the time to write a short, discrete, and, often, poorly-worded “shout out” to their “soulmate”. His pieces reach out to the loneliness and desperation of online dating, while simultaneously romanticizing them by exaggerating their importance and portraying them with nice scripts and colors. What I really appreciate about Paul’s art is that it wasn’t what I expected and it asked me questions I will never know the answers to. It really pushes the envelope on the classic and most substantial question in the art world: Really. What is art? What does it look like? Paul has reminded me just how diverse the art world is and that a clever mind is just as beautiful as the most intricate painting. I appreciate that Paul’s enchanting take on the world makes my view of the life just a little lighter.