Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #44

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 44th review I've received.


When I first looked over Paul Shortt’s site I wasn’t quite sure how I felt. It’s so often hit or miss as to whether an artist’s works will click with an individual – it’s like blind dating, but entirely for aesthetics instead of sex. My first impressions were of the “Please No Photos” collection. I immediately wanted to dislike this “artist”, because anyone can hold an out-of-the-ordinary item in public and take pictures with it. As I continued to move temporally backwards through the pieces, however, instead of seeing what I viewed as more laziness, I saw a succession of different approaches, art that isn’t just spectacle and a camera, art that doesn’t necessarily get framed, or is even purchasable. That’s when I started to think that my initial impressions warranted further rumination. As it turns out, I found myself enjoying a tremendous number of the projects Shortt has captained over the years. Rather than allow his artistic endeavors to remain passive experiences, Shortt’s works frequently engage the viewer directly, actively, and often physically. Also, as it turns out, he actually seems to put a great deal of thought into the reasoning behind his pieces. For example, the initial “No Photos Please” collection that so dismayed me originally, was seen through a new light when accompanied by the artist’s discussion of the event with another artist. Though it’s still not my favorite, I can at least appreciate the thought that went behind the symbol, and it’s relationship to the medium used. Another thing that won me over was his enthusiasm and honesty. Though I don’t believe Americans need lessons in narcissism, it doesn’t mean it should be wiped from existence- and the idea of a controlled burst of it, almost like a dose of medicine, was quite the idea. It could be a partial reflection of Shortt himself, as his business card project and letters of reference hint at a twisted narcissist residing in his brain. Further pushing this was the use of awards in different projects. Whether arbitrarily awarded and potentially insulting, or self-created, self awarded affirmations, the awards both point out how we seem to be capable or throwing praise at just about any action, all it takes is a piece of paper with a little bit of gold foil to validate the victory. I’m tempted to make myself an award for writing this review. The “It’s simple but complicated” series was a huge disappointment in that there wasn’t more of it. Though the flag one seems to hit one on the head with it’s message, the fact is that the videos are short, enjoyable, and offer the opportunity for more thought if allowed. The kernel of this idea was one of my favorites, but has yet to reach the robustness of some of his other projects. My favorite visual, physical piece was the piece of art that was never meant to be a piece of art – the “free poster”. I want one quite badly – the 24 by 36, because you really have to embrace it. I love the accompanying “Resist” poster as well – but it lacks a directive about nose-picking (a personally favored indulgence of mine against society’s norms). The cherry on top, however, is discovering that this review for which I’ve been recruited , is actually part of a project by Shortt. He’s made an art project out of paying others to talk about his art. It could probably be argued that this connects directly to those strings of skewed narcissism witnessed in other pieces. It could also be argued that this is another example of laziness in a project. It could also be argued that this is awesome, avante garde, etc. Art is about arguing after all. It’s also a ballsy move to pay a stranger money to say whatever they want about his art. I’d have to say that after taking everything in, I’ll probably be looking at this site again, even if I don’t get paid for it. By the way, under the “collaborations” you’ve spelled back and forth “back and fourth” under the video entitled “Making the Wind”. Keep arting.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art 43

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 43rd review I've received.


I don’t know very much about art, and even less about Paul Shortt, but I came across his website, and I was really touched by the emotion, and occasional cynical humor. I decided to view some of his other work and it was interesting to see how he came about. I’m going to review his website specifically, collection by collection, because each offered an interesting perspective in their own way. First offered up is “Please No Photos”, he described it as “As part of the 8th annual street festival Art In Odd Places I walked along 14th Street in New York City holding an enlarged seven-foot “no photos” symbol that implies a prohibition on photography and questions the constant surveillance of public spaces.” It’s an interesting idea, and it was well done. He had people hold the sculpture and have their picture taken with it “subverting the act the sculpture implies”. I saw this as a reference juxtaposing current society with a dystopia similar to that portrayed in the famous novel 1984, given that so much of the world is more concerned with their individual rights, that they’d be willing to ignore the larger issues of mass security and privacy. While one may not be comfortable having a stranger photograph them in a public space in general, it’s much more accepted if they are able to hold a sculpture, or pose next to it. This is where I saw cynicism and humor most specifically in his work, and the fact that you can almost see his attitude in the very first collection is something to admire in a young artist. The next collection we get to view is “Contemporary Farewells: New Ways of Saying Good Bye”. This was kind of a silly collection, but nothing that really jumped out except for “The Cell Phone Bye”. It may just be my own personal experiences, but it makes me sad that so many people so have lost touch with one another and they hide so much behind their own personal electronics. I think the collection is meant to be silly, and many of the images made me giggle, but that one evoke a bit of sadness. We as a society are losing touch with one another, and focusing so much on our electronics, that it’s become a difficulty to have personal face-to-face discussions. The next collection is called “How to be Narcissistic”. It was similar to many that you’ll see as ice breakers for a new job or even a college class. It wasn’t too far out of the ordinary or out of the box, but still rather interesting to see people portraying themselves as how they’d like to be seen, as opposed to how they are. The collection titled “The Car My Father Gave Me” nearly made me cry. The video portrays his father going through images of the car, and it touches on the very sentimental family feelings. I loved it, and watched the video three times. It was sweet and clear that his father cared a lot about him and about the car. It was the most personal of the collections, and the most well done. It would have been nice to see his father in the video, but it was well done. “Literally and Physically” is the next collection, and it’s an array of sculptures. “Please Don’t Climb On the Sculpture” is a fun perspective piece, and the ROFL carpet is interesting and it’s fun to see what everyone would look like if they did roll on the floor laughing every time they typed it. “It’s Simple, But Complicated” is an interesting look on the tasks that many people take as being simple but have deeper cultural meanings. They are worth the watch, but don’t go as deep into the implications as they could. “Printed Participation” is kind of meh to be honest, but still worth looking through. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen or expected to see before. “Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago” is where he tricks people with those hand shockers that have his name on it and gives them to the people who he shocked. Also, kind of meh, but I hope it went well, as there wasn’t much information beyond the concept on the website. “Three Hour Tour” was a wall of text but worth the read. I don’t want to spoil it, but I think readers would like it. This is followed by “Modern Greetings” which is the inverse of “Contemporary Farewells” the pictures were kind of silly and people looked like they were having fun, but it wasn’t really deep, meaningful or emotional. “Nimby’s” was a collection of images that were a little interesting, but mostly kind of fell into the ‘it’s been done’ category. It wasn’t bad, and it was kind of fun, but it wasn’t really fresh or new or personal. It was rather thought evoking though. The next collection was the “Paul Short Invitational”. The images were fun, but it would have been nice if there were videos instead of just still photographs. “Seeking Good Conversation” had several good videos. It was a thought provoking section. It reminded me of how hard it is to get to know people and make friends as an adult and really have interesting conversations, instead of mindless drabble. “Missed Connections” was interesting. He read and placed ads from the Missed Connections sections of Craigslist in the places they happened to create new connections. I put this in the same paragraph as “seeking good conversation” because I think they could go together as a collection. The artist is trying to help people have good conversations with their own missed connections, and it evoked a lot of the same feelings. “The Business of Selling Yourself” is a cynical look on dating and even getting hired. It’s silly and interesting and definitely worth the read/watch. “Collaborations” is the last collection. The images are kind of funny, the video was awesome, and it’s really great to look through. In conclusion, Paul Shortt is an artist with a lot of potential who doesn’t often stray into the emotional, but when he does it’s a fantastic site. He can and will do a lot with his future and he’s definitely worth checking out.

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #42


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 42nd review I've received.


"Amazing, thought provoking and real! When viewing the webpage I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't have the highest of expectations but after reviewing the photos, looking through them, feeling them, and going back to do it again just for the fun of it I can honestly say I have a wonderful new artist to add to my list of favorites! The art that has been created ranges from hearty nostalgia to a modern day take on city living and the laws that govern it! Looking through the projects it becomes clear that the level of imagination and wisdom put into these works of art are not just a fleeting thing for Paul Shortt. Some of the works took literal approaches at finding new ways of how we live life, from handshakes to manners that are dictated by day to day etiquette there is a whole new look on them after perusing these projects. The simplicity in the projects while still making you think extremely complex was absolutely mesmerizing; Every piece of art is clearly thought out and executed with perfection. I truly value the once in a life time experience that so many of these projects offered as well as the general ambiance that comes from viewing this art. Each collection is just as powerful and thought provoking as the last while always maintaing a clear air of humor, fun and wit. To understand the journey that four separate people could possibly take while randomly touring a hospital through pictures and caption is phenomenal. Very rarely these days does original art make you still feel as though it belongs in galleries. I am truly anxious and excited to be able to see where the art continues to go. The inventive use of everyday objects to convey messages are captivating. Simple things that so many take for granted, or don't ever give a second thought to like missed connections and photo signs have been morphed into this great 'live' art of sorts to truly make you think. I'm envious of the performance nights, and audience participation that is so clearly documented and seen in so many of the photos; however living through captions brings you there as well which is quite a feat for artistry these days. Variations of nearly every art form are repeated on a near daily basis and yet Paul Shortts work is completely new and enlightening to see. Projects full of brash unbiased honesty and an overwhelming sense of self confidence even when not being about self or confidence lead me to believe that this work will continue to prove wonderful.  Viewing this art will remind of you of the simple treasure of everyday life, you may be compelled to look back frequently and should not be ashamed if perhaps you cry while viewing some of these projects. My emotions personally ran the gambit while going over all the clever and intoxicating videos and art provided.  I am eager to see more of this art, and can't wait to share with those I know who need perhaps a second glance at how beautiful this life is and can be."

Mechanical Turk Review of My Art #41

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 41st review I've received.


The first two words that came to mind after casually viewing Paul Shortt’s website were urban and unique. After viewing each category which includes a set of photos, I found an intricate storyline for each subject heading that the photos were displayed under. For example Shortt’s earlier works; photos that were taken between 2006-2009, display task and actions. The set of photos shows two subjects going through what appear to be everyday ordinary routines in a rather comical manner. Their normal routines are being tested with a new routine which breaks their normal habits. This is a perfect example of subjective art because as I’m viewing it, I’m not finding myself thinking more about daily routines that I go through rather than actually appreciating the series. This set certainly evokes the thinking process on a personal level for me. I feel like the Strap-on Ballsacks could be quite controversial and I’m wondering if it did indeed cause any controversy. I do however, love the genius shot of the girl standing on the edge of a water fountain wearing a gold strap-on ballsack as a jet of water blasts past her leg. I think the effect could have looked more real if she would have changed her angle slightly. The background architecture in the shot gives the photo a European feel. Both of these early set of photos confirm my first thought process of urban and unique. It seems Shortt does indeed like pushing the subject material as seen in his series of No Photos Please. This collection of photos was taken in NYC according to the description. I was at first confused while looking at the photos because I was under the impression that no photography was supposed to be taking in these locations. However, after a closer look I see that a statement and a point is being applied. Regardless I thought the shot of the two police officers was quite ballsy. I love the interaction between the actual photo and the individuals. I think the statement would have been much more powerful if the photos were actually taken at locations that blatantly say photos restricted. How to be Narcissistic is my favorite set. As with almost all the works on Shortt’s website, this set of photos evokes the thought process and in this case I found it to be quite powerful on a personal level. I found myself thinking about my own level of narcissism as well as wondering about the people in the photos. I think the message of How to be Narcissistic is subtly brilliant. Narcissism is never a good thing but in this case I found the photos to show a different story. It’s alright to appreciate yourself and your best qualities. We might need to step aside from time to time and reflect on some of the awesome traits that we have as individuals. I’ve never actually considered making an award for myself and while that might make me feel good about myself I can totally see how an outsider might totally get the narcissistic vibe about me. I think the message of this set besides appreciating yourself is boldly declaring your appreciation to the world, regardless of what someone else might think. There are quite a few other set of works that Paul Shortt has on his website. I found the ones that I wrote about to be the most interesting. On an end note, I love the city of Chicago. I was delighted to see a title with the word Chicago in it. Shortt’s first art gallery in Chicago added a twist by using a hand buzzer gag when he shook hands with someone and passing it along from person to person. First of all that sounds like a joke I would pull off. It’s also a great way to break the ice and the crowd at the gallery already probably appreciates art so it would have been interesting to see their initial reactions through photos.

Friday, January 04, 2013