5 Star Ratings is a project and collection of 500-word art reviews of my artist website, each produced by users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which enables micro forms of paid labor called HITS (Human Intelligence Tasks). Workers on Mechanical Turk were paid $5 dollars to review my website and write about the work. With this project I’m interested in starting discussions and asking questions about how technology and the Internet have changed the way artists construct their identities. What does it mean when we can all create our own press? What value does crowdsourced press have both to the general public and to artists? What is the current state of art journalism?
5 Star Ratings: Mechanical Turk Reviews, 2012, 25 pages, edition of 250. Letterpress cover with digital printing inside.
An edition of 25 selected reviews can be purchased HERE.
Pay For An Audience, 2014, 8 minutes. In this video Mechanical Turk workers are paid to read the reviews of other workers.
Below you'll find a random selection of reviews I recieved. Please note that these reviews took place on an older version of my website and some of the information reflected in the reviews may be dated.
Paul Shortt is a Midwest-based Artist focusing primarily, at least according to his portfolio, on art that is based in performance, interaction and/or installation. His works cover a variety of mediums and experiences, engaging an incredibly diverse audience based upon the particular piece, location and nature of the art. He has certainly begun to amass a decently impressive portfolio, although some pieces definitely stand out above the rest. First up is his newest body of work, entitled “Please NO Photos.” This piece utilizes a “no photo” icon as an easily moved installation piece. Shortt takes the sign around Illinois, installing it in a variety of locations and photographing it. The piece is not particularly engaging, and it seems that the quality of construction and creation is not as great as many of his other pieces. The piece has the potential, however, to spark some very interesting conversations about freedom, photography, art and more. Next up is the “Please Do Not Climb” piece. This piece consists of a bench, which appears to say “Please Climb Sculpture” from a distance but says, “Please do not climb on the sculpture” when viewed up close. This piece is nicely constructed and sparks great conversation about the nature of sculpture and fine art. Corner Piece is another interactive piece, which instructs viewers to “Put your hands behind your back” and “Then put your head down.” This causes the viewer to essentially put him or herself in a time out. Again, this piece is a great commentary on the state of the art world. Both pieces were shown in galleries but have an interactive feel that is often lacking in the world of fine arts.
Shortt has several installation-based pieces that are innovative and powerful. First up is the “Missed Connections” project. In this project, Shortt was able to utilize missed connection advertisements from Craigslist. He took the text of the ads and added it to objects such as cakes, cds and notes in books. The objects were then placed back into their natural environment, waiting to be discovered. The piece focused on the power of making new, human connections in the lonely world of online dating. The piece had a great message behind it and was well installed. Another great installation piece was the pillory in the Market Place Mall. In this piece, Shortt created a mirrored pillory that he installed in the Market Place Mall. The piece was simple at first glance, but is heavy on further glances. When you watch whoever is in the pillory, you are distracted by the fact that your own reflection is clearly visible in the pillory. The piece sparks interesting thoughts and conversations about social interactions, perceptions and much more. Last but not least, Shortt places great emphasis upon performative pieces. One piece was entitled “Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago.” In this piece, at a gallery opening Shortt wandered around with a buzzer in hand. Every time he shook hands with someone he shocked them and then passed the buzzer along to “spread the buzz.” While it is hard to tell the true nature of a performance piece from a portfolio, this piece seems to be well thought out and planned. It seems fun and successful.
To me a lot of the works feel incomplete. Unfortunately I think this also give them an air of amateurishness, almost like someone decided they like art, or maybe that art is "easy", and they wanted to try it out for themselves. Ultimately the execution in a lot of the projects falls short and feels like the works are trying too hard. The videos are one place that, in my opinion, definitely needs work. For "Please Do Not Climb", I don't think the best way to demonstrate how the piece is meant to work in a public space should have been done by having the artist drag it around a park, put it down, step on it, look at it, etc., then pick it back up and drag it to the next location.
Another thing I don't like, about any of the videos, is that, even though they're in fast-forward, they still feel incredibly long. I even skipped to different parts because they felt like they were dragging out these needless tasks. "It's Simple, But Complicated" has a good concept, which I feel might have been better demonstrated with more examples. The first video is okay, but the work feels forced. It also feels campy, and with the music I can't help but feel like, "Is the artist mocking people who actually watch this, sitting around and thinking, 'Haha! Anyone will think something is art if you simply call it such.'" The second video... I had so much secondhand-embarrassment. I understand that instead of being a breakdown of a car it was instead the breakdown of a driver, but it felt SO. FORCED.
The piece I liked the most, I think, was "Corner Piece". Only one person, maybe two, can interact with the work at any time, which makes it feel very intimate. Added intimacy also comes from the actions the participants are told to perform. I interpreted the placing of hands behind the back and bowing of the head, as an almost religious act. Whether out of reverence for the piece, or because the piece requires a sort of subjugation from the viewer. Another thing I liked, although I don't know if I would call it art, was "Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago". Being a little familiar with the advertising/marketing business, I can say this kind of thinking fits in perfectly with that industry and they would really appreciate the idea put forth by the artist in an attempt to get his name out, recognized, and remembered. "Pillory for Market Place Mall" was interesting, because it forces viewers to look at themselves and their surrounding in a different way, also while confronting this person who is shackled. Obviously the shackling could be a metaphor for how people are so tied into consumerism and feeling like the things they buy make them the person they are, and I think such a literal approach was the best way to reach people and actually make them think about their lives in regards to how they treat material goods. I was disappointed with "Calvin Ball".
There was no artist's statement, so I didn't understand exactly what was trying to be accomplished, and I could only assume it was another attempt to bring the public into a work and to get them to interact with it. Maybe if the photos had been more well-done I could have appreciate it more, but like I said in the beginning, many of the pieces feel unfinished and this was one of them.
Some people believe that art is a passive pursuit; painters create artwork and people simply view and admire it as it hangs in a gallery. Others believe that art is an active experience and involves the community in its very creation. Paul Shortt is one of the latter. This manifests itself even in the fact that I am writing this review. You see, to Paul even his reviews are part of innovative artwork. Let me explain. The reviews that Paul is currently receiving are solicited. Traditionally, artists held an exhibition, invited reviewers and then held their breath hoping that they would receive favorable press. They had little or no control. Paul Shortt is specifically requesting reviews in as part of a project (yes, an art project) to question and discuss how technology has changed the way artists see themselves. Are artists, businesses, indeed even members of the public, affected by the fact that anyone can now write website reviews that can be seen worldwide? Let's take a restaurant as an example. If you've had a great meal, or a disappointing experience when dining out, you can tell the world via the many websites that specialize in restaurant reviews. You can lie; you can be honest; you are free to say exactly what you want. But can these reviews make or break a business? Can they make or break an artist? What are these reviews saying to the general public? Is this giving us an unnatural power or is it for the common good? Are we defined by the number of Facebook friends we have? Does our number of Twitter followers really reflect our popularity? How relevant are our Pinterest boards? Looking at Paul's website and his previous works, it seems that every aspect of life can come under his creative scrutiny. This being said, when Paul embarked on the review project he purposely removed some of his works from his website in order to manipulate - to some extent - the opinions that would-be reviewers would have. Paul’s project began as a reaction to recent press reports that question online reviews on major websites. Who are these people? Exactly why are they motivated to write reviews? What rewards do they receive for their efforts? Paul’s experiment involves soliciting reviews from the general public, not from professional art reviewers. This gives them much the same validity as an average diner reviewing a restaurant as opposed to a professional food critic. Paul has collated the reviews he has received to date into a book and this will become the starting point of his project, opening up the subject of online reviews for debate. When Paul has requested reviews, he has asked the writers to go to his website and ‘write 500 words about the art you see’. I am one of the reviewers attracted to this project. Yet, you might argue, I am not in fact writing about Paul’s artwork. Am I or not? Isn’t Paul’s review project as valid a piece of artwork as his 'Modern Greetings' project where people greet each other not with a handshake but new and unconventional greetings? I believe so.
This collection of art work is simply one of the more unique collections I have seen in some time. While much of the work seems to be somewhat random and without purpose, observing it closely reveals just the opposite. Paul Shortt shows off a great amount of skill in his ability to articulate daily life into an artistic creation. He demonstrates a great ability to deliver creative images through an unusual light. The quirkiness and individuality displayed through his artistic vision is certainly distinct and distinguishes Shortt from his peers. If you enjoy viewing unique displays of art and have a creative side yourself, Shortt’s work will certainly stand out and may just inspire you beyond your wildest dreams. With a great mixture of randomness, humor and a serious tone as well, Shortt’s work has a little something for everyone to enjoy. You will enjoy seeing cool displays of activities that will make you set down and think about just what you are looking at. Shortt goes into great depth in certain portions of his work, for example, he has videos that display him doing what would seem to be simple tasks, however he points out the small complications and cultural meanings that can often accompany such activities. Whether it be raising the American Flag or simply driving on the freeway, you will see these actions in a new light thanks to Shortt and his creativity. Enjoy every moment to because this type of work is rare and hard to track down in your day to day life.
While enjoying this outstanding collection, you will notice that Shortt also displays a sentimental side of his work as well. He has a series of videos that go into length in regards to his personal relationship with his father. He takes us through his journey of connection with his father and gives details of their relationship and how their bond has been ultimately established. Especially interesting, Shortt dives into an unlikely connection between his career as an artist, and how it is surprisingly similar to his father’s life long work as a car mechanic. He is able to tell us that story in a way that many of us could probably relate to and one that may strike a chord with a lot of people. This ability to make such a sentimental connection is emotional and leads us all into a journey of thought about our own personal relationships with our loved ones, and how often times things may not just be what they seem. Overall, Shortt’s wide variety of work ads up to a magnificent artistic collection that is inspiring, emotional, amusing, and many other complementary words that just do not come to mind at the moment. His many valuable pieces of work serve as a great view for anyone who enjoys art in general, as I would recommend this art and give it great reviews. If you want to take a moment of reflection and give the world a look from a different point of view than your accustomed to, you should check out Paul Shortt’s work and experience its many different facets.
Paul Shortt’s art is immediately human. It speaks to commonalities in all of us (narcissism, a desire for privacy, and memory) and therefore very accessible. However, this immediacy and accessibility occasionally render his works slightly pedestrian. When successful Shortt’s work stands out as decidedly stark and moving. Shortt’s website has an “About Me” section that briefly details his professional history, but his collection entitled “The Business of Selling Yourself” is much more effective in detailing the person behind the art. On a displayed business card, Shortt reveals aspects of his personality most people would hide and ignore. He’s selfish, bad with money, condescending, and a sex addict who is potentially bad in bed. These confessions were intended to be cathartic and productive, but regardless of his intention, they give context to the art that Shortt creates. This is ego-less art that aims for honesty over style. Aesthetically, Shortt’s business card is ugly and this can be said of many of his other pieces. The photography and videography is flat and documentarian, but this only serves to emphasize the emotional quality of the work.
Shortt isn’t attempting to forge a style, but rather expound upon personal issues that matter to him. The most effective of Shortt’s pieces is a series entitled “Please No Photos.” He took to the streets of New York City to visually express dissatisfaction with the pervasive surveillance that exists in the modern city. Using an enormous no photography sculpture, Shortt photographed pedestrians holding the sign in different public areas of the city. In addition, he places the sculpture next to buildings, in parks, and other common areas. The results are superb, with the sculpture appearing as part UFO part 2D object in our very 3D world. This juxtaposition pulls this real location and person into the world of google maps and government satellites, further emphasizing ubiquitous surveillance. Perhaps the most elegant series is “Contemporary Farewells,” which present monochromatic explanations of alternative and humorous ways of saying goodbye. The pieces have a simple, paper-cut look, with silhouettes of people performing the above-mentioned gestures. They involve absurd and laughable exchanges of muscle hugs, twists and turns, cell phones, and pointing. This series is much less serious than Shortt’s other works, but the presentation is right on. Where Shortt loses me is in the realm of performance art.
A quick disclaimer: I do not like performance art. Regardless of this fact, I think the visual and live presentations of the work are lacking in many ways. For example, in performing “Contemporary Farewells,” pairs of Shortt’s friends awkwardly act out the different humorous farewells. The actions are seemingly unrehearsed and strange to watch. Most problematic is the fact that the aesthetic cohesion of the printed work is completely absent in the performance. Instead of recreating the high contrast, monochromatic look of the original series, the normally dressed actors are set against a busy gallery backdrop. This lack of attention to detail could simply be irrelevant in Shortt’s eyes, but for me it creates a distracting disconnect in the live performance of his pieces
While examining artwork by Paul Shortt, I found myself trying to see every angle of what I was witnessing. These art projects, which include photo projects, videos, and art pieces, are both deep and conceptually appealing. They combine a level of novelty, entertainment, and reflection in a way that reminds me why art is such an important part of a culture. Although the projects vary quite a bit, they all seem to take complex and emotional concepts and present them with unique simplicity. One of the things I found most interesting in Shortt’s art is the way he uses himself in his projects. In fact, it seems as though Shortt himself is an integral part of the art. I don’t simply mean that he used himself to present the art, as many artists do. On a deeper level, he becomes the art. On the section of the website entitled “The Business of Selling Yourself,” Paul Shortt presents a business card in which he presents some very intimate personal faults of his. The fact that he actually used this card as his official business card for a time in order to communicate his point caught me by surprise. It’s easy to see that communicating messages through artwork is more important to Shortt than appearing cool and flawless.
The art projects that feature physical manifestations of cultural concepts are very entertaining. One of Shortt’s pieces, a large red rug with the words “Rolling On the Floor Laughing,” takes a popular cultural expression and presents it in a way in which visitors can actually perform the action. The humorous thing about this piece is that people use the term “ROFL” all the time in texting or Internet chat, but they never actually perform the action that it signifies. This art piece gives people the unique opportunity to actually carry out the action. This piece is amusing and interesting in its simplicity, and the option of interaction increases its appeal. I was especially impressed by several video projects that convey deeper cultural concepts. The videos from “It’s Simple, but Complicated,” are mind-blowingly straightforward and correct in their presentation of cultural problems. I found the presentation of road rage in the second video particularly amusing as Shortt parked on the side of the road giving the finger in every direction and honking the car’s horn. The best thing in my opinion about this particular project was the simplicity with which the concepts were conveyed. The videos did not have any special effects or eye-catching props, but they captured a certain sentiment in a way that really makes you think a little harder. The “Please Do Not Climb on the Sculpture” bleachers are a very visually and conceptually appealing piece. The simple, white bleachers convey a message that asks the viewer to climb on the sculpture, but when approached the viewer will find that the message is actually the opposite. This is another piece that is both interesting and interactive. These and other art works that Paul Shortt presents on his website offer a great example of interesting and meaningful art.
First and foremost, I am writing a review of Paul Shortt's work for Amazon's Mechanical Turk. I am being paid $5 to review this work, but the only reason I am even mentioning this fact is because this artist has made a work of art out of a collection of reviews of his work that he received from Amazon Mturk. So I am going to review this piece of work. It is titled "Pay For An Audience: 5 Star Ratings" What an interesting concept. The title itself isn't necessarily indicative of what an artist paying for reviews will receive - for example, there are a few submissions where paid crowd-sourced reviewers did not actually give a 5-star review and called his work amateurish and some people who were not impressed with his website, but overall, I believe that the idea of the work is to show that any artist can pay for maximum favorable reviews and propel themselves as groundbreaking top-tier artists regardless of talent, ability, or skill. The other art featured on Paul's website are typical art pieces: some are more impressive than others, sets of pictures focusing on topics that may or may not invoke any sort of emotion in the audience. I personally believe it is almost artistically-criminal to pay for favorable reviews in this manner - but in all actuality, its a small scale version of the exactly same mass media induced version of artists that have been picked and chosen by the media elite and chance and happenstance of breaking out in a sea of nearly infinite artists. So Paul has done what is nearly impossible to do with a much larger budget: create an exhibit, create a buzz, and create a brand new concept in one single swoop. Make a splash, make an impact, make a new piece of art that has never been done before. Brilliant! It has been months since I've seen an original piece of art such as this. Art itself is problematic in this day and age. Photoshop isn't even a luxutry anymore, free versions of it are all over the place online and for a cell phone and Adobe themselves recently gave away the entire CS2. Part of the problem in the day and age we live in is that way too many people have access to high-end DSLR cameras and go out snapping shots and believe that they're professionals. Part of the problem is that we live in the era of Instagram filters making everybody who owns a smartphone or iPod a wannabe artist. And part of the problem is that crowd-sourced paid reviewers are commonplace in this day and age. By drawing attention to these matters, Paul has created a work of art in itself. A powerful statement to the modern artist of the year 2013, and an original idea that brings forth the existence of this very writing. Bravo to Paul, I believe that the future will bring forth many successful concepts and purity that art demands in order to exist as anything more than commercial intellectual property... and how ironic that I base this statement off of his concept-art piece that is the exact opposite of this.
Hi Paul, I thought I’d 1st go through and pick out some of this pretty cool whirly bird contemporary kind of art that you do so well and comment on the ones that seem to interest me the most. So here goes, to make it easy I picked “please no photos” as a launching point for making some comments on your “outside the box” kind of clever art. I like the camera icon and the locations that you picked, in “please no photos” and wanted to share with you what I’m thinking. Like the other art on your site this one pays homage to the way people get into a sort of trance in life. What I mean to say is that when something is out of place, or out of the ordinary people become quickly confused. The question then becomes how quickly do they realize that this is actually a form of art, and not an assault on their reality. From there I strolled over to “how to be narcissistic” and found yet more clever art. I really like how this particular art tests everything we know about the ego. Is narcissism just an ego gone awry? Are we born with narcissism? Do we learn narcissism? Are government officials more prone to narcissism? Can babies be narcissistic? Does narcissism have a cure? I suppose the uniqueness of your art addresses some of these questions; or rather does the art fly in the face of abject narcissism. But, it’s all good because maybe I’m just over thinking your art, because at the end of the day it’s just simple fun. And I hope that I don’t sound narcissistic by saying these things.
My next stop on my journey through Paul short.com was to go to “it’s simple, but complicated” and watch a few entertaining videos. So I must say Paul, your video on a breakdown on the side of the road should certainly be considered for some type of award. I mean come on, this is really funny stuff. For me personally, I would say if you have not already put this on YouTube, then you certainly should. This is the kind of stuff that viral videos are made of On YouTube. The 1st thing that I thought of when watching this video was how absurd road rage really is in today’s world. So what I mean is if there is no one else around how can you really express road rage. Finally Paul, to keep it light I went to ROFL CON and got a few chuckles. The ROFL CON piece is a true testament to our human nature. What I mean to say is that at the end of the day no matter how bad the economy is, or how severe peak oil is, or how corrupt the bankers are, one thing is for sure, and that is we can still laugh. That’s it for now Paul, but I’ll continue to keep an eye on your website for more unique, interesting, and inspiring art. Keep up the good work my friend, Peace!
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.
I am not an artist. I appreciate art that is interesting, attractive or thought provoking. I think that Paul Shortt’s site is filled with images that are at least one or two of these. I enjoyed perusing them. It was entertaining to try to see what the point of the photograph was or why the photo was taken. It was thought provoking and made me want to look at everything on the page. The way that the artist shares himself with his likeness and personal insights into his personality make the work all that much more compelling. I also enjoyed that there were other contributors to the artwork. It is interesting to try to find the connections between the captions and the photos, seeing what the photographer had in mind when taking or displaying the picture. Some of the ones I found most interesting are the pictures in staged series photos like Calvin Ball. It was fun to see how the game evolved, the expressions on the faces of the subjects and how the game affected the players. Another I found unique and engaging was How to Be Narcissistic, which I enjoyed. It showed everyday people finding humor and truth by awarding themselves for their attributes. It was fun to see the expressions on their faces while they were displaying their awards. This was an unclose and personal collection that was entertaining to examine. I also thought that Missed Connections was appealing and sad at the same time.
Portraits of Me By Others were out of the ordinary because many other people contributed to the artwork. It was fascinating to see how others interpreted the same face, the color choices they made and what details obviously stuck out to them. I liked that there were drawings, passages, computer images and even a sculpture. Different mediums make exhibits come alive. I found Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago to be very amusing. Each of these different installments brings something personal and insightful to the collection of photographs. This site isn’t what I typically think of when I think of art. Art brings to my mind images from galleries and museums like the Louvre and Metropolitan Museum of Art. It doesn’t have to be and this artist shows that. Art can be as simple as paint splashed on a canvas or as involved as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That is the beauty of art; it’s capacity to be simply entertaining. Sometimes this escapes people and this is one of the intriguing things about these works. They show that simple expressions, situations and projects can be made into art. I feel that the artwork on this site will make people interested. It compels one to continue exploring. The artist captures different objects, people and situations in a humorous or fascinating way. Art is subjective in that it can be anything and about anything. This series of works shows that an artist can make art out of everyday occurrences and make them into something people want to see.
Paul Shortt seems to be an eclectic artist. His style appears to be very modern – he uses what he sees around him and transforms it into something that can be appreciated by more than just the standard passerby. Even if the art does not capture you at first, you find yourself enticed and clicking to view the next photo, the next set of whatever it is that he has managed to create. His art is not just the typical pencil or brush to paper; it is more interactive, bringing in people and objects to put his artwork on display. He may not be an artist to be recognized through the ages (“not a modern day Picasso”), but he certainly has the potential to make himself known in the modern day art scene. Although you are not sure what message he is always trying to bring on, it entices the viewer and leaves them with an odd sense of thought. You wonder who these people are, what part they are meant to play in the artwork and if they are meant to be a part or if they were just in the right place at the right time. My personal favorite section was the “Missed Connections.” It brought a weird twist to people trying to connect with others – instead of the typical match.com or craigslist personal ads. Within that collection, my favorite had to have been the cake with the message on it. The chances of that person ever actually seeing that message on display are scarce, but there is still something that captures you into it. Maybe they will see it, maybe those two will connect, maybe there will be a happily ever after in what holds the potential to be an oddly romantic tale. The other one that had me smiling was the “Literally and Physically” collection. It was amusing to see how someone could take something, such as the bleacher stand, and give it two different “meanings” based on how the viewer sees them, either to step on the sculpture, or avoid it all together. I know I would be one who saw the “Please Climb Sculpture” part of it first and test the theory out, just to find that I was sorely mistaken. All of Shortt's pieces have a weird vibe to them, but they still have the capability to make you stop, look and consider what it is that he is trying to say with his art. Sometimes it seems as if you have to hunt down the meaning, other times it is laid out for you “Roll on the floor laughing.” I find Paul Shortt to be an interesting artist, and the fact that he is using Amazon's Mechanical Turk program to gain a little insight, even though he is paying for such criticism, shows a weird sense of boldness amidst all the creative aspects he shows. He has an exceptionally creative mind and has discovered his outlet to portray that creativeness to the world – through art, in its own way; with ladders, sculptures, big “no photo” signs. It's a nice break from just walking around a boring museum.
Paul Shortt’s art is original and contemporary and invokes conscious feelings and impressions of life and customs for the average citizen. Shortt is able to take a simple structure or truth from everyday life and turn it into a thought-provoking and sometimes humorous depiction. The art displays his strong sense of realism and humor in every piece documented on film. Gazing a Paul Shortt’s art helps one to perceive the innate style and artistry evident in modern life. The vivid photographs stir a sense of realism and curiosity in every picture that can be sensed by the individual. The artwork is inspiring and makes one consider the intricate designs and patterns of daily life in which they reside. Shortt’s art even challenges boundaries of what is considered proper conduct. In “Modern Greetings”, Shortt explores the various ways that individuals could choose to greet each other from fairly acceptable to hilariously absurd methods. In “Please No Photo” Shortt clearly takes a photograph of an area despite the warning, and the viewer can clearly observe the resulting image for him or herself. In “Please Do Not Climb”, Shortt invites an individual to sit down on the sculpture, but upon closer inspection the inscription forbids one to do so in the same instant. It is the same type of renegade abandon and rhetorical questioning that one can find embedded in daily life within American society that is flawlessly captured in Shortt’s art. In “Corner Piece” and “Pillory for Marketplace Mall”, Shortt explores the restraints that societal expectations have placed upon individuals. These works do well by representing the barriers that obstruct an individual’s freedom which are sometimes self-imposed. “The Narcissist” is also a collection of photographs in which individuals at a workshop identify and celebrate their egotistical tendencies. Shortt shares his insight into the matter by adding humor and acceptance into the project, and the self-description each member wrote is undeniably truthful for many others.
“Free Poster” is one of my favorites because it simply reminds people that nothing in life worth owning is really free of charge. It is because of the uniqueness and the utter realism of the art that makes them modern masterpieces. Each image is gifted with an underlying message that penetrates the subconscious and the centers of high favor within people. What makes his art special is that some of the features of the art that are viewed in Shortt’s colorful collection can actually be found in life when one pays closer attention. Shortt’s art possesses a metaphorical sense of individuality, community, and rebellious humor poised against societal standards and restrictions. The messages implied with each image are reflective of the emotions and inquiries that people often possess in secret. The artwork promotes the essence of a human culture that is both hidden and obvious, and this rare combination creates a unique experience for the viewer. Some of the messages implied are simple to understand, while others are more thought-provoking and lead to a deeper examination of What Is. It is without a doubt that Paul Shortt’s art indeed leaves a “p.s.” in one’s mind long after the image passes. I would recommend this collection to every modern artist or general appreciator of art to discover the scope of a man’s insights into how the world is perceived through his eyes and others. Every piece of Paul Shortt’s artwork is especially designed to make a striking statement. The simple truths implied within each work speak first to the mind and then fuse in the soul. The art pinpoints the issues in an unconventional light and beckons each person to make a meaningful connection within themselves. Both seasoned collectors and the ordinary person can appreciate the raw essence of Shortt’s artwork and its sheer originality. The conventional works of Paul Shortt will truly carve out a sector of the human psyche that is not found in historical art and is much appreciated in the modern world where the real message is often obscured. ---A.Austin
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.
What first captured my interest at Paulshortt.com was Modern Greetings - a contemporary manual featuring alternative ways to greet people. My thoughts on this interesting twist to accepted social convention is that it could be a standard protocol for attendees at keynote speeches. Perhaps companies like Apple Inc. or Google, or Amazon could incorporate Paul’s ideas of Modern Greetings - a contemporary manual featuring alternative ways to greet people into their corporate culture? I wonder if they would go for the idea? Can we send them the manual and see where it goes? These companies all pride themselves on thinking outside the box. Ugh, just a thought. Maybe I did not look deep enough into Paulshortt.com, but how can I get this manual? I mean this could go viral. Mostly because it is so much fun, especially the Butt Bump and the Cell phone Rub. It looks like really fun stuff, Paul - I like it! Another clever project I wanted to comment on is the Missed Connections Project where you use personal ads from the “missed connections” section of Craigslist to create handmade, text-based objects. Craigslist has become such a staple in today’s world that this piece really makes sense. I have a feeling that there is lying dormant within the Craigslist mutli-verse many more Paulshortt.com projects. They are just screaming to be uncovered.
Now my favorite Paulshortt.com art has to be “The Business of Selling Yourself,” with its quirkiness and funny twist to the “Getting to know you” approach to life. So, my first question is to ask if this is copyrighted? Can I use this? But in all seriousness, or maybe not, I can’t help but image what an attractive woman would think when reading this as she was walking away from you. What I would give to be there. How do we sell ourselves to others? This art is cool because it causes us to examine ourselves and again accepted social convention. It’s all about turning accepted social convention on it’s ear, if I am reading your website and your art correctly. I like what you do, and it inspires me to come up with my own art that fly’s in the face of accepted social convention. Honorable mention has to go to “It's Simple, But Complicated” because it is simple, but complicated. As with the idea of tinkering with accepted social convention, “It's Simple, But Complicated” tinkers with complicated cultural meanings. If I’m getting the main theme of the idea of tinkering with complicated cultural meanings right, then I really like the whole concept. The breakdown of sorts on the side of the road is a true work of art and should garner critical acclaim. I will enjoy watching for the next projects as they unfold in real time at Paulshortt.com. The only thing standing in the way of mind-bending art is the limits of the imagination. Paul, I’m convinced that your imagination literally has no limits, and if it does you are finding ways to break the imagination barrier every single day.
The lumberjack look of multi-media manipulator, Paul Shortt, doesn’t seem to fit the image of this quirky, comedian, photographer, poet, installation and performance artist. Reviewing his website filled with his galley of photographs and videos of himself and participants is not unlike watching “The Truman Show” where everything in Shortt’s life is recorded and shared with the internet world. Even his reviews are commissioned from Amazon Mechanical Turk for $5.00 for 500 words, which in my book makes him one of the high rollers on the website. That is to say he’s not cheap but generous; and judging from his work he is also quite self-effacing and humorous. People have written about his “No photos allowed” installation piece but I quite frankly enjoyed the inventive posters he created on “modern greetings.” Those who are interested in novel social ideas should take a look at these suggestions, even if just for a laugh. Perhaps that is the most refreshing angle of Shortt’s work is the lack of seriousness and the full emphasis on playfulness. His museum pieces in “Literally and Physically” is interactive and designed for adults and children alike.
For Shortt, there is a child is everyone and it is absolutely necessary to have hands on experience with his work. People touch and handle each other in some exhibits; others might climb stairs and hear the creator of the piece laughing on a recording while you are encouraged to do what the rug tells you, which is “Roll on the Floor Laughing.” One video is watching Shortt attempt to raise a flag on a pole. The piece is called “Simple but Complicated” a just under three minute film showing Paul’s feeble attempt at raising a flag. This is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s recording 24 hours of the outside of the Empire State Building. It seems sort of meaningless yet like most things on Youtube one just watches it because you want to be entertained. You’re hoping that maybe the video of Paul’s car break down is just the thing that will pick you up. There is a funny, cuteness about Shortt that reminds you of a handsome Seth Rogan with his curly hair and scruffy beard. You can imagine him picking up women with a “missed connection” message written on a huge birthday cake. He has lots of great ideas, clever images and is literate! To Paul Shortt’s credit, he’s not just some spaced out guy on an ego trip but a real artist. Born in 1981, this 31-year-old BFA graduate of Kansas City Art Institute takes his work seriously. He is currently studying for his MFA in New Media at the University of Illinois in which he expects to receive this year in 2013. It will be interesting to see how Shortt develops and evolves as an artist. He’s talented and savvy and knows how to connect with an audience. With many artists going in for shocking performance art, Shortt seemed comfortable with his PG-13 rating, and should be.
This art brings a strange irony and a graceful satire to common dilemmas and nostalgias with which we can all identify. Our search for connection, the challenge of finding it in a fast-paced world that is more interested in stock prices than straight-up conversation—all find a quiet, dignified voice in the photography of Paul Shortt. Many of his projects are a series—a set of photos that all portray a similar lostness, or, in the rarer case, sparks of connectivity, of belonging, of home. Other projects are adventures in creativity, such as hilarious new ways to say hello, all captured on candid film with their laughing executors. The overriding message seems to be the penultimate quest of the human soul—to find a place, to belong in it, to know oneself and find others that will understand. At times we make of ourselves a spectacle, as seen in the “Pillory for Market Place Mall” series, and at times we simply reminisce on the people who created and shaped us, and the remaining symbols of themselves they left behind, such as “The Car My Father Gave Me.” At other points, Paul Shortt invites his participants to take time, to explore themselves. He allows them to find out who they are, and, perhaps more importantly, allows them to come away from the drudgery of their daily life and make a sally into the realm of the undignified, but connected, life he offers.
Shortt also makes occasional forays into political and social commentary, as in the “Please NO Photos” set. Additionally, there are also pieces the ways we comfort ourselves, and how we can break out into a more realistic truth. For example, how do you present yourself in a favorable light? You might not realize what rose-colored glasses you wear for the mirror until you see Paul take them off in “The Business of Selling Yourself.” A major advantage of Shortt's work is his willingness to explore and expose his own flawed qualities in his art. The casual viewer will laugh at the joke, but if you look a moment too long you will turn away after your chuckle and wonder, “Am I like that? If I was really honest with myself... what would I see?” When viewing all Shortt's photos, I find myself knowing their subjects, including the artist himself. I realize that the greatest moments of belonging, of connectedness, are sparked when we let go of the rushing pace of our lives, and even let our dignity slip through our fingers a little. When we look a little deeper into his art, we grasp the irony of our efforts to keep it together. Real life is something for which we must make time. Paul Shortt understands the human condition, and has the imagination to explore its limits, its influence, and its expression. I rather envy his participants the insights gained into themselves as they dredged up their most cherished comfort zones to throw in the artistic fire.
A lot of Paul Shortt’s work is about connections between people. Shortt's series "Missed Connections" instantly caught my attention because of the way it takes existing narratives and puts a twist on them. By transposing these short, often one-sided dialogues from the Craigslist website to the location from which they originated, Shortt offers a chance for the missed connection to take hold. As a viewer, I connect with these pieces because they offer hope at the same time as they are beautifully hopeless. There is something absurd about seeing these narratives jump from the computer screen to the physical world, and the absurdity makes me pause and think about the separation between the online realm and the everyday, and how the two can merge. “The Car My Father Gave Me” is another piece about connection. In the first video, “My Fathers Cars,” we see the worn hands of a mechanic flip through photos of various cars he has owned. His informality in presentation and speech really enhances the piece, I feel, because it lends a certain authenticity that we would not get if he simply narrated a slideshow of the images. We begin to really feel the connection between father and son in the videos “Mine” and “Learning to Drive a Stick Shift.” This series gives a real sense of a son trying to understand his relationship with his father. Rather than directly approaching the topic, father and son engage in activities of sharing information and knowledge, which, I suppose, act as proxy for sharing love. “Printed Participations” toes the line of absurdity when it addresses the connection between the artist or maker and the audience. Inherent in the work is the act of a viewer acquiring the piece and deciding what to do with it. I like the idea of viewer participation. It engages and excites the viewer because they get a chance for their action to become part of a work of art. This series also begs the question of “What is art?” which is always a nice question to drive yourself crazy with. “Pay For An Audience: Five Star Ratings” (which I can only assume I am now a part of by writing this) is about a different sort of connection, between a buyer and seller. By paying viewers to write a review of his art, Shortt is playing with the idea of commodification. What is the value of a purchased reaction? Can you be certain that these reviews are honest and true? What effect does the money have on what the reviewer will write? Like “Printed Participations,” an interaction between the artist and someone else becomes the work of art. As a participant, I am in the unique position to be observing this piece while I am a part of it. If I were to start typing nonsense or inflammatory remarks, would my review be printed? Would it have any value? I didn’t read any of the other reviews. I wonder what they have to say about it.
I love your work; I find it has both comical and serious aspects to it. I especially love the “modern greeting” manual; it is a fun and interactive art piece that illustrates the fact that the people of today do not make great efforts to meet new people, in fun and interesting ways but when we make that extra effort we makes friends we will never forget. I find the Nimby’s collection to be truly inspiring because the signs are placed in a manner to prove to people that big malls and building don’t need to go in every empty lot we find, sometimes thing’s just need to stay open, vacant, or abandoned.
The interactive signs are the best; I would love to post things like this around my school campus I think a lot of people would have a lot of fun participating in fun silly activities such as these. The signs, if anything would give people a laugh and spread smiles throughout the campus like wildfire and it would be a good conversation starter for everyone. Strap on ball sacks?? I think laughed for a solid 5 minutes just thinking about it and then another 10 scrolling through the photos! Truly a comical subject, I think a few people I k now need a pair of those! This gives new meaning to the phrase “grow a pair!” Although I think I would have made them not as long but twice as big, to make it even more comical, trying to watch your models try and walk with balls the size of softballs in-between their legs!!
You have some great art although I am not such a fan of the car breakdown scene, I feel that it is too posed and doesn’t really illustrate anything other than you are flipping off the world, which I guess could just be the whole meaning of the piece, which in that case it’s good, but I feel like there isn’t enough emotion in the video clip and it just looked super posed to me, and fake. Now if you were to come to a screeching stop and maybe even overshoot the camera screen a little bit and fling your car door open and look like you are yelling at the top of your lungs (maybe spit a little) and then furiously throw yourself about whilst flipping the world off I think it would be a lot better piece. I love the huge no parking nice, I think they should all be installed everywhere there is no parking signs because sometimes those things are so small I miss them!!! And then I end up with a ticket when I come back out to my car, and then I am just so pissed cause the sign in literally 6inchs and hidden behind a bush. I hope my input is what you are looking for I find your art very unique, and pretty inspiring. Some pieces make me think about the situation you are trying to illustrate and others make me laugh.
My initial and overall impression of Paul Shortt's work is that it falls into what most people would consider 'modern art'. Whether or not Paul accepts that term is unclear but there is a certain post modern feel to much of the installations and projects detailed on his website. That was my initial impression, however, it was not my sole impression. I didn't feel like the work was uninteresting or unengaging. I would say my deeper impression was that Paul is somebody fascinated with the human condition and how we need to relate to the world around us. He does have areas where he focuses on introspective ideas, notably the portraits (although this is not strictly art by Paul, it is presented on his site) and The Car My Father Gave Me. 'Please No Photos' brings into question the public reaction to something that symbolizes privacy. In a culture where everything is constantly uploaded to social networking sites, the 'no pictures' symbol is no longer seen as just an establishment rule, it could, theoretically be seen, as a direct attack on the way many perceive their own personal freedom. 'Modern Greetings' is perhaps the most typical work by Paul as it seems to incorporate many of his ideas into one project. The project deals with modern communication, social structures, and a certain degree of humor and participation. The photographs depict what appears to be quite an enjoyable event whereby participants perform inventive ways to greet as substitute for the norm. I think this focuses on two things: the relevance our communications have to our every day lives and how people react to stepping outside of their comfort zone. 'Missed Connections' is particularly interesting as I feel that it touches upon quite a distinct issue that almost everybody can relate to. The process of finding love, or even just general companionship, in the modern age can feel somewhat restricted and inaccessible, due to intense social structures and the pace at which many live. This project takes the online ad and puts it actually in the location (via a physical format) that the ad is referencing. This confronts passersby with the loneliness that can exist outside of a normally sterile location (such as starbucks) and the type of thoughts and needs that can be found in a truthful place (such as craigslist). It's confrontational, but makes quite a profound point. In conclusion, I think Paul's greatest attribute is that he never does the same thing twice - he has a theme to his work that incorporates thoughts of sadness, isolation and humor, but the projects individually manage to convey a new message each time. The other good thing about his work is that he enjoys outsider participation, this is typically a good sign that the artist has a need to connect artistically with those around them. I think that he's quite adept at zoning in on the essence of his work in the way that it is presented on the website - there isn't too much in the way of written text, he instead prefers to focus on the right images to convey the art. The old cliche that goes a picture is worth a thousand words is certainly true and it is testament to Paul's ability to relate on an artistic level that he opts to use images over text.
Paul Shortt's artworks are thought provoking pieces that explore the everyday human interaction. They are deeply reflective of the society at large, with much attention being paid to the details of everyday life. They mostly revolve around the way people communicate, and have in some ways been used as a tool to promote communication as well. Their frank nature opens up room for conversations that extend into important areas and topics not usually covered in everyday exchanges. Apart from sharing his personal thoughts, Shortt's works also tend to include the perspectives of others, so that they cover a wider range of human outlooks. This can be seen from the 'Three-Hour Tour' piece. In this way, the works are enhanced by the addition of societal value. The works offer a refreshing perspective of life in general. Shortt's ideas are original and non-conventional, and to a certain extent, unorthodox. They are daring and flashy, highlighting the artist's desire to express himself. A good example of such artworks is 'Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago', an effective and daring way to seek attention while passing on a message. Despite the 'shock value' it carries, the underlying idea is still communicated across, and the essence of the artwork is not diminished.
While the pieces of artwork are mostly simple in design, they carry a deep meaning and bring across the creator's message succinctly. Often embellished with bright and cheerful colors, these attractive pieces of work brighten up the places they decorate, while communicating a profound message. Clutter-free and to-the-point, their message is not obscured by fanciful designs and accents. The collection of colorful posters in 'Free Poster' is one such example. However, while it is often good to leave artworks nonrepresentational and open to interpretation by the viewers, at times some pieces seemed a little too abstract to be fully appreciated. An example would be 'It's Simple, But Complicated', where the pieces may be construed, or perhaps misconstrued, as making of a political statement, or just one on the human behavior or life struggles at large. 'Pillory for Market Place Mall' is another piece where the underlying meaning is not immediately made obvious. Much of the content of the art pieces is written in a straightforward and candid manner. This was especially evident in the piece 'The Business of Selling Yourself'. The application of such a technique on a medium meant to be spread around allows each recipient to carry this little piece of artwork around with him or her. Each artwork comes with an apt title that brings across its meaning in a concise manner. They encourage the viewer to ponder more deeply about the subject, thereby engaging the viewer at a deeper level. Most of the time, they also serve to help tie up the significance of the whole piece of artwork, such as in the piece 'Resist'. To sum things up, Shortt's artworks offer an innovate outlook to the interactions and practices in everyday life. Each piece is unique and original, so viewers are kept in suspense as to what the next creation will be.
Sometimes life can be taken to seriously. There is no enjoyment out of the things you see around you. Paul Shortt makes me appreciate the artistry that he sees in everyday life. Art is supposed to enrich our lives. It is supposed to make us laugh, cry, and ponder. Art gives us a way to be creative and express ourselves. Paul Shortt does this and more. Glancing at Paul's art, a person may question is this really art. That is what I like about Mr. Shortt. He makes us stop and think about it. It is art. My hair can be art. My car can be art. Furthermore, he gets you involved in his art. The work entitled Literally and Physically were quite enjoyable because it made me think. One of the pictures said "please do not climb the sculpture". I automatically thought this is exactly what you see on some art displays or statues. However, people still go ahead and climb despite the warning. Paul turned that common warning into art. The piece entitled "rolling on the floor" had me thinking also because most times that is a figure of speech. However, he turned it into an interactive piece of art. I was really rolling on the floor when i saw the picture with the words "Put Your Hands Behind Your Back. Then Put Your Head Down". When you visit art galleries often times that is what you see as people ponder over the work of art. So Paul created art of what he sees people doing as they view artistic creations. I find this gratifying. People often feel creative but there work is not the typical elaborate paintings of what many think is supposed to be art. Mr.Shortt brings about a place that allows people to appreciate the fact that anything around you can be art. It is all how you view it.
Art means something different to every single person. Another thing I truly value in Paul Shortt is that his art is not expensive. Many times people will give up on their dreams of becoming an artist because they feel they cannot afford the supplies or lessons. However, Mr.Shortt shows you how to take value in everything that is around you. If you open up a can of food, make something out of it once you are done. Do not let people make you think you cannot create art because you don’t have the art pencils or paint to make elaborate drawings. Drawings are not all there is when it comes to art. Mr.Shortt is opening doors for those who see beauty and creativity in the simplest of things. Paul’s art is like creating a history of common occurrences of everyday life. You can look back on his art after years and say to yourself I remember doing that or seeing things of that nature. Therefore, take the time to not just glance at Paul Shortts art, but to look deeply and ponder over it. His art will surely make you laugh, possibly cry, and think. Paul Shortt is truly an artist that shows value in everything.
The artwork of Paul Shortt is a combination of humor, social commentary, and a small touch of the Conceptual Art movement of the 1960's. Shortt's work ranges from mediums to photography, installation, and performance art. Shortt's work is mostly reminiscent of the Fluxus art movement of the 1960s as well as the art "happenings" of Alan Kaprow. Shortt breaks down the fourth wall present in so many gallery installations today, and he heavily involves the audience, making them extremely integral to the works that he presents to the public. Examples of this are the piece "Three-Hour Tour" and "Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago," both of which require the active participation of the audience to ensure that the pieces are completed per his original vision. At the same time, both of these pieces involve a sense of humor in art not seen since either John Baldessari or even Andy Warhol. In "Paul Shortt Shocks Chicago," the artist shocks audience members with the age-old gag of the hand buzzer, but then also provide the audience member with their own buzzer, allowing them to become a part of the work and also part of the artist as well.
However, while Shortt does use humor a great deal in his work, there are also pieces that show a human side to the artist, and allow audience members a glimpse into him as a person. In the piece "The Car My Father Gave Me," Shortt explores the similarities between his father's profession as a car mechanic, as well as his own profession as an artist. Shortt explores not only his interpersonal relationship with his father, but also the larger issue of the artist as a creator, manipulating pieces of every day to make a greater, better machine. As a whole, Shortt's works aim to analyze societal issues, either through the way we interact with each other as a society, or the rules that have been arbitrarily established and followed for what we call "polite social behavior." Shortt is constantly attempting to not only analyze these behaviors, but challenge them and their veracity, like he does in his piece "it's Simple, But Complicated" in which simple tasks with larger implications are performed by the artist. Also, the piece "Contemporary Farewells" is a good example of analyzing societal behaviors, in which the artist proposes new way to say farewell from social situations. These proposed methods are sometimes a simple commentary on society today (in which the two parties simple look at their cell phones and walk away) or a method called "The Shoulder Bow," which seems silly but could easily been used as a method to bid farewell fifty years from now. Overall, Paul Shortt presents the art world and the larger world as a whole with a humorous, gentle nudge to the ribs view of the way society carries itself. Shortt's sense of humor is kind enough to not be cruel or alienate the common man, making him one of the more accessible artists that is creating work today.
"Please NO Photos" is a work of both photographs, and film media. There is a large, maybe six foot diameter picture of a camera with a red line through it, which, on the face of a picture, seems to be added by digital design. When a man, Paul himself, presumably, walks on-screen to take away the image which instruct the viewer not to take a picture, which is, in fact, an object the artist is photographing in various public areas. The fact that the courthouse and police station are in use seems to be political, but there is nothing else to let the viewer know how the artist feels about court or police. The total lack of direction is a bit unnerving, and leaves the viewer having to think, something we don't always automatically do. Supposedly raising the cultural awareness banner and shaking it about, Paul has a series of videos of himself doing simple yet poignant acts involving culturally relevant activities. In one such video, he is on a ladder attempting to unstuck an American flag which won't comply with his wish for it to fly at full mast. The music playing in the back ground is an accordion, lending a sort of frenetic air to his inability to raise the flag, and seems to underscore the viewer's own (mounting) anxiety as the pole leans all the way over and Paul raises it while the pole is about three feet off the ground. Strange, but strangely true. The artist allows his audience into his private space, he seems to want to show them his failures, and just how lovely failure can be.
At the very same time, the boundary of what is relevant and acceptable is being pushed in videos in which the artist simply gets out of his car and gives the wide, corn-eating world, the bird. Is it a comment on driving? Consumerism in America? Loneliness? Anger and depression? Paul has been good enough to leave that to us to decide, for now. There are pieces of art that are supposed to be taken away by the audience and photographed when installed at new locations. The posters, some, only have words on them, and point out that, to change social convention, all the viewer has to do is laugh out loud, hum, or chew with food in their mouth. Most of Paul Shortt's work is of the sort that is tongue in cheek asking its audience if it can laugh at itself, because, indeed, Paul seems readily able to laugh at himself.
I have to admit that every time I get a chance to see the work of a new up-and-coming artist or aspiring visionary, a sense of excitement and anticipation takes over and lets me stranded somewhere between hope and despair. Why? Because, I've seen so many wonderkids that could have reached the top but alas, an almost even amount that just blew there chance and eventually moved on to something else. When I came across Paul Shortt or P. S. as he proclaimed himself, I got a bit of both: the moment you land on his name-bearing page, you get a sample of what he' s all about. I loved the 'still of form' video, that portrays a man being denied access to a car. A video is bound to be added, which I eagerly await to see if it will only enhance the plot portrayed by the picture or spoil the whole thing together. I say this because his work wreaks all over of these two elements. As in the first picture, you see a man attempting to enter a car, we can only imagine in order to do something, to 'get places', thus we get the resounding light motive of hope, only for him to be denied that, giving you a sense of desperation.
Next, a very slick named exhibit, the 'Please do not climb' one, only contributes to this pattern. You see a man aspiring to climb over steps, those of adversity, painted in white all over, that is solicited to cease. One of my favorites, less expressive in appearance but full of meaning in essence, is the 'Certificates' section, that just represents a kind of gateway to the artists soul, if you'll excuse the big words. Here, he provides a subtle take on his work all together, what he basically says is that he doesn't take himself seriously and before you jump the proverbial boat, hear me out. You might think that' s a bad thing but it' s not, you see so many artists being pretentious and overly complex, that as a viewer you really can' t relate to any of their work and can' t come to appreciate what might actually be very good. What P. S. offers is this, the chance for you, the viewer to take him seriously and I cant’s speak for others, but I did. It' s a kind of trick, or if you believe in magic, it' s what makes the difference between something ordinary and something great, you can' t teach it or learn it, you either have it or you don' t. That vibe you instill in others, to be a part of what you did. P. S. manages that and, in my book, that' s the promise of greatness. If he will fulfill his potential or not, is up to him. But from where I' m sitting, it just can' t look any brighter for him and especially his art. Looking forward to see his story unfold.
Some of your motivation for your unique style becomes more apparent as one views your adaptation to the video short. This understanding is only deepened when your educational influences are unveiled in the details of your Curriculum Vitae. New Media is definitely what I would have categorized the majority of you work as. You claimed expertise in a variety of types of paintings but this does not seem to stand out in your work, this could be perhaps your more modern sculpture and video projects really stand out among your other completed works. The first two sculptures on your very well laid out website, “Please Do Not Climb” and “Time Out Zone” have a very inorganic feel to them. These works are most definitely insoluble and give the impression of permanency and official and domineering nature pervades these works. Time Out Zone in particular caught my interest because of the contradictory nature of the commands. The only way these actions could be potentially pulled off is if someone is being put in this position by a figure of authority such as a New York City Police Officer. This theme is of inorganic oppressive pieces continues with the mirrored pillory installation. While you appear to be smiling and happy in several of the pictures and the video the piece itself conveys the feelings of an age of oppression. I know this is a knit-picky comment but the first photo of this installation I think really detracts from the validity of the statement this piece is making. This photo shows you within the pillory but the female photographer is completely visible. This makes the installation seem more of a tourist attraction or an interactive spectacle rather than perhaps a commentary upon the way shopping and commerce enslave humanity to the principles of currency. Also, the holes for the hands are much larger than they would have been upon a traditional pillory. The hand holes on this piece are circular where traditionally they would have been more of a diamond or rhombus shaped to prevent the withdraw of the hand back though the pillory itself.
Your free poster piece is a very original idea in the style of John Cage’s 4:33. This idea is quintessentially “new media” and breathes a puff of life into “modern art.” I think most importantly it challenges what we think of as true art and encourages us to embrace the beauty which is all around us and can be found me proper diligence and methods are used. This is what modern are means to me, something which reaches beyond the fundamental notion of the art itself and begins to interact in the remainder of the world in such a way as to actually enhance the experience. I want to include a few comments; first the ball sack was bazaar. Second, I have not included very many comments on your videos at all because I am particular put off by this type of media. I apologize for this and am encouraged by your work.
Ah, to write about Paul Shortt and his eclecticism style art. Here is what I did in preparing for this assignment. I first viewed Paul’s Blog, including his funny video, or was it serious? Then I scrolled through much of his collection of art, comfortably nestled in cyber art space at PaulShortt.com. Next, I went to Wikipedia and found the official definition of eclecticism. So it turns out that eclecticism is conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paradigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories, styles, or ideas to gain complementary insights into a subject, or applies different theories in particular cases. Well, that according to the Wiki. But it describes well what I find on Paul’s site. Funky, quirky and downright cool in scope and intention. Now with my cup of Yogi Kava Tea, and again back at the Mac, I’m once again toying with the different art work at the site and feel compelled to comment, as I sit and ponder on this unseasonably warm Seattle evening. So what is it about Paul’s art? Left Brain? Right brain? Who knows, but pretty cool stuff, left or right. As Sinatra once said, “Flying to high in the sky, is my idea of nothing to do…”
First the early work, this is the stuff that makes me bubble. I really enjoy it and like it when someone, an artist, or anyone for that matter, causes “people” who are in a social coma, or self induced form of a kind of hypnotic state, to stop and ponder their own existence. How about the “Mechanically Move Your Body Up The Stairs Like A Machine?” Exactly, very cool, I like it Paul. I liked the “God Save Shortt,” portrait and could not help but think right away of “Bueller,” Ferris Bueller that is, “Save Ferris.” Very cool stuff. In fact, we can all learn a lot from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” if reflects the same ideas as “Paul Shortt’s Day Off.” Shortt, Shortt, anyone? Anyone? Anyone? This idea that we are more than the social cog in the wheel that public school and the daily grind of work has made so many of us into. I did the corporate thing for 22 years, now I grow my hair and drink tea. Very cool, huh. “Resist” is a rather favorite of mine, in the shortt, I mean short time I’ve been an official visitor at PaulShortt.com. It sums it all up, yes? Especially the last line, “Never follow Directions.” Has anyone ever read Thoreau? Also, Modern Greetings looks fun, and offers the same witty twist on accepted convention. What is this handshake thing anyway, and who started it? Maybe we could all just do the knuckle bump? “Nimby’s” is clever art. Seeking Good conversation is interesting. Missed Connections is creative. Keep up the innovative and creative work, Paul. Hey, if you don’t, who will? If I could sum up all the work at PaulShortt.com, it would be to “Never Follow Rules.” Peace, my friend from sunny and warm Seattle.
While I am not an art connoisseur I enjoyed looking at all the various forms of art that Paul Shortt created. Particularly I liked the different types of mediums that were used and how interactive the works were. I think we've all been in the situation where we've walked into a museum surrounded by beautiful works of art only to be told not to touch. The Paul Shortt pieces actually encourage the audience to take part in art. The “corner piece” made me laugh a bit because I can definitely see myself walking up to the piece and doing exactly as it instructs me to do. I found the ROFL rug humorous because it invites you to actually do what we text so many types a day. It's pretty ridiculous when you look at it that way.
What I encountered time and time again was that most of the works were basic and simple such as the “Free Poster” work. It is, as it states, just a free poster but in actuality it became something more and an actual piece of art by itself. That is the magic of art that it takes on a life of its' own and sometimes goes beyond what the artist intended. One of the pieces that I liked the most was the “Please Do not climb” sculpture. From far away it seems to say “Please Climb” which of course would draw me towards it, ready to do its' bidding. Upon closer inspection it really says, “Please do not climb” which would leave me in a predicament because at this point I would want to climb it even more. My favorite piece is the Missed Connections piece. Out of curiosity I have clicked on the craigslist link only to find a world of people who are desperate to find that one person that made them feel something for that moment in time. I loved that those ads were re read and placed in the settings that those people wrote about. I could have sat here and watched hours of that footage. I think that it touched me because most times we assume that we don't matter to many people when it reality it may be that we've changed someone’s life without even knowing it.
I would say most of Paul Shotts art is “tongue in cheek” so to speak, like the certificate that states, “I was totally impressed by the depth of our random exchange.” It is seemingly absolutely random from the step sculpture to the ROFL rug but what all the pieces have in common is that they invite an audience to interact with art in a way that is non threatening. Once that initial hesitation is over, the audience can then use the art to see the banal in a different light. Many times we walk through life just going through the motions without actually noticing anything around us. I think Paul Shortts art encourages people to experience the world by being an active participant in it.
The artwork available for viewing on Paul Shortt’s website is simply amazing. It combines a very modern style of art with a more interactive feel for the audience. For example, one piece of art, entitled “Corner Sign,” is located on the corner of two walls and directs viewers to “Put your hands behind your back. Then put your head down.” The result is a time-out style piece of art for adults. Similarly, another piece of art, entitled “ROFL CON,” directs people to “Roll on the floor laughing.” The images on Shortt’s website illustrate the fun that adults have doing this activity; a man can be clearly seen joyfully laughing and rolling on the carpet. Similarly, numerous other pieces make the simple things more sophisticated. His website discusses the “Modern Greetings,” which is a manual featuring “alternative ways to greet people.” These creative ideas for adults to say hello and connect with others will, at the very least, bring a smile to your face when witnessing them and when imagining them happening in everyday life. These alternative greetings include a side bump, a butt bump, a cell phone rub, a squat jump, and a snapping technique called “Yeah…snap.” Each photograph of the aforementioned newly suggested modern greetings shows audience members taking part in Shortt’s show. This interactive element clearly keeps things interesting, as evidenced by the looks of happiness and enjoyment on each audience member’s face. Almost all of the audience members are laughing, but at a minimum smiling. These images provide a snippet of the pleasure the audience had, and simultaneously reinforces the youthful ideas that Shortt seems to want to impart on his viewers.
Shortt’s video, “It’s Simple, But Complicated,” illustrates the difficulties one man has while trying to be patriotic and fly an American flag. Although he comes prepared with a ladder, the flagpole is over twice as high as his ladder can reach. Ultimately, the man ends up disassembling the flagpole so that he is able to physically move the flag up to its appropriate place at the very top. This video may serve as a metaphor that sometimes trying to do the right thing is not as easy as it may seem. This ultimately expresses something much deeper than what is superficially obvious. Shortt also details his interactions with visitors at his first art show in Chicago. He designed the classic hand buzzers—used to surprise and literally shock people as they unknowingly shake hands with you—to say, “Paul Shortt shocks Chicago, 2011 Free Hand buzzer.” As he went around shaking each of the guests’ hands, he would give them the hand buzzer to keep—after shocking them, of course. The buzzing continued as guests began to shock other unsuspecting guests. Shortt’s young-at-heart guests seemed to have truly enjoyed this gag, likely something they hadn’t experienced (or even thought about) in many years. These pieces bring a youthful side back to adulthood, which can often become so monotonous and often too serious. These playful pieces of art bring a more enjoyable feel than a regular trip to an art museum or for a showing at an art gallery; they allow the viewers to actually get involved, feel, live, and appreciate the art. Viewing his website brought a smile to my face and brightened up my day, as well as making me hopeful that someday I’ll be able to attend one of Shortt’s showings and view his jovial, seemingly-simple-but-simultaneously-complicated artwork in person.
When I first visited the website, I was quite confused, as it wasn't what I was expecting. When I hear the word "art" I think of these overly complex, beautiful, striking, cerebral paintings. I forget that art comes in so many forms, all of them linked by a sense of creativity, expression and, most importantly, freedom. These various projects all contain those qualities, and they're unique, something I've never seen before in terms of art and creativity. There's a sense of humor to many of them, and in others, a carefree and spontaneity to them, and all of them feel so simple and easy on the surface. It's not until I took the time to process what I was seeing and reading that I realized that if you go below the surface of what's been created, you get to the heart of the inspiration and message.
The piece called Seeking Good Conversation was the first one I watched. I thought it was a creative way to speak to new people, to delve into many people's lives and interact with people in a convenient way, especially in a world where we're all rushing around, stressing out over silly things. There's something intriguing about the idea of just leaving flyers asking people to converse with you, getting to know strangers while still being anonymous. The videos depicting a few of the texts were brilliant, too, not just in their execution, but also the messages themselves. They were short and basic, not giving away any information, but about something that almost everyone relates to. It shows how connected we are, even as strangers, that we all feel so used to our environment and lifestyle that we don't stop and think about it until texting with a stranger, realizing how automatic life has become.
A good example of the humor I mentioned at the beginning is in Modern Greetings. It's an interactive piece that gets people to greet in more unusual, awkward and funny ways than the traditional hand shaking. I found it to be funny, and also something that I'd imagine is a good icebreaker. Handshakes themselves can feel awkward even though they're the norm, so why not do something more unusual to take away the formality of it? I thought this was a very interesting piece for that reason, and that was the thought that came to my mind as I was reading through it. My favorite piece, though, was the one titled Interactive Signs. It, too, seems so simple, and is simple, but that's the brilliance of it; it takes something so simple to get people to break their mundane habits and routines, to make their day just a little bit different.
All in all, I loved viewing the artwork I've seen. It's opened my eyes to how art doesn't always have to be riddled in metaphors and concepts that no-one but the artist and some experts will understand or relate to, and how it isn't just something that caters to the mind, but also to the heart and body; something that reminds me to break the monotony, break away from the stress and routine, and do something different. Most importantly, it reminds me to live. That's what this art is all about, to me. It's about life itself, and that is the greatest form of art.