Friday, May 24, 2013

Amazon's Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #64

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 64th review I've received.

"At first glance Paul Shortt’s art reminded me of the artists in New York in the 60, 70’s and 80’s with their performance art that only the deepest, hippest thinkers could understand. There were a lot of pretenders with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other squinting and nodding their heads.  Looking harder at Paul’s work I see he’s a Midwesterner. What does that imply? Midwesterners have a history of humility for one thing and are hardly pretentious for the most part. I liked the idea of “Please No Photos”. The message I got from it was the hypocrisy of the most famous for the sake of fame, pretending to hate the paparazzi. If he would have taken this further and gotten someone famous to stand behind the no photo symbol it might have had more impact.  It was a fun idea that didn’t go far enough.

Many of his pieces seemed more psychology than art such as “Three Hour Tour” where he takes 3 volunteers unknowingly to a hospital to walk around and discuss their feelings about it afterward. “How to be Narcissistic”, a sort of workshop on the art of Narcissism, “Contemporary Farewells”, “Modern Greetings” and an early work called “Interactive Signs” are a few of his works that require participation and possibly leave the participants thinking after having a bit of fun. People don’t usually crawl up stairs or hop right and left in front of an exit without a sign telling them to do so. Maybe in this way Paul is giving people permission to let loose a little. I got a chuckle out of “Missed Connections”. This was a project taking personal ads and placing them in odd ways such as on a decorated cake, written with icing in the bakery section of a grocery store (my personal favorite).

“The Car My Father Gave Me” is a piece that felt too personal and too long. It left me feeling that only Paul and his family could really appreciate it to its fullest. The biggest surprise in Paul Shortt’s collection was “Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago”. It was a short description of Paul with a classic hand buzzer shaking hands on a Chicago street, then giving the buzzed a buzzer to continue the gag and so one. He has a few photos on the page of buzzers and a hand holding a buzzer. That’s it! It’s left to your imagination. Maybe that’s the art of it, just story telling where you think the rest of it out yourself. In this day of YouTube I felt he could have gone so much further and made a great video but that would be too predictable I suppose. The series titled “Literally and Physically” is just the New York art I was referring to earlier that I would have expected to see some decades ago. The answer to this might just be that Paul Shortt is this generation’s New York elite, but not in New York."

For more info on this project and to read all the reviews please check out my website: