Paul Shortt is an artist currently pursuing his MFA in New Media at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His current focus is performance and experiential art. His works in a very contemporary style have much irreverence for what is sometimes deemed art. They bring up the constant question faced by performance art, exactly what is art? Is this it? Or is it something altogether different? Shortt’s works have an interactive style with the audience. In Please No Photos a large red no symbol is placed in places where photos are often taken. People can interact with the photos and then also take photos with the symbols. It is a contradictory act. Literally and Physically also has an interactive aspect. Roll on the Floor Laughing is a large red carpet with the words placed in a way as if the words also follow the instructions. The audience can participate in this act. Corner Piece instructs to put hands behind your back and then put your head down. The participant then might experience whatever feelings that position invokes in them. Does the context of an object give it meaning? If an object has text does it make it more than a rug? How does the experience of rolling and possibly laughing on a red rug change the experience? Does it make a rug into a piece of art?
Shortt is certainly not the first contemporary artist to use text art, but his simple demands encourage interaction. Some of his pieces seem to be a stretch to call art at all. Missed Connections is a project that uses text from craigslist ads. Shortt created items and put them in the original location of the described encounter. He filmed the locations while people read the ads. It is a reminder of the loneliness of people. This piece in my opinion is less successful than some of his other works. It takes usually entertaining text and makes it more mundane by his focus. The Car My Father Gave Me is a series of videos focusing on his father showing pictures of cars and interacting with cars. The cars are not interesting or well photographed. It is more a video enumeration. He claims it is about his relationship with his father and thus masculinity. Frankly I think it could be better. It is not well executed. Modern Greetings is a short manual of alternatives to shaking hands. The piece is more than just the manual but also is the performance. He had an experience where people volunteered to participate to get the manual. Some of the greetings include a cellphone rub and butt bump. He successfully got the participants to perform the greetings. The photos indicate that people really enjoyed these greetings. Perhaps they have more varied meanings than just hello. Another piece by Shortt is Pay for an Audience: 5 star Ratings. This article is for this piece. It is yet another way for the observer to be a part of the art. In this way Shortt is successful he draws the observer in and then participate. Overall Paul Shortt is a successfully encourages interaction with his performance art. His pieces that are less interactive are less successful.
For more info on this project please check out my website: http://paulshortt.com/Pay-For-An-Audience-5-Star-Ratings