Chris received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Art at the University of Cincinnati. His creative work has been screened/exhibited at the New Life Festival in Berlin, CoCA Annual in Seattle, ArtReview in London, Space Womb in New York, Project Gallery in Toronto, Simultan Festival in Romania, Festival NAA in Portugal, Living Arts of Tulsa, Koza Visual Culture and Arts Association in Istanbul, Public Space One in Iowa City, Non-Fiction Gallery in Savannah, Reed Gallery in Cincinnati, and the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago among others.  

Artist Statement

My goal is to achieve harmony by becoming more aware of how I interact with the world. I seek peace, privacy, and normalcy. It is this quest that manifests itself as my art. Like Marshall McLuhan I view media as an extension of man, though I tend to gravitate towards Neil Postman’s explanation of the medium as the metaphor. I believe just as Postman describes in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, that “each medium, like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility.“

 

My work is typically digital or electronic in nature. It involves the identification and activation of the inherent elements of the media that stands to best serve the chosen message. This includes video, photography, sound/music, performance and/or installation. My work is a physical and emotional endurance challenge. It utilizes theories of persuasion, social influence, compliance gaining, cognitive dissonance, group think, deindividuation and semiotics to direct the experience. It often involves the appropriation of content (typically from social networking, video sharing, and online dating sites) in an attempt to rearrange our field of view, a new orientation, while pushing the limits of media law. I ask my audience to question how and why we think and act (react). Are they comfortable and should they be?

Chris Shofner’s work is essential for those who conceive cinema as an anthropological tool. - Stigmart10 Art Review 

About (2011)

Video Projection, Audio

"About" juxtaposes images of a vigorous workout with appropriated content from a popular social networking site. Like a workout our interaction with social networking sites can be very stressful. We must start slow, stick to it, and put in the time.  We become committed to it. The piece brings into question issues such as privacy, obsession, addiction, deindividuation, groupthink, insecurity, and social cues surrounding social networks.

This is Chris Shofner (2011)

Video, Audio

"This is Chris Shofner" focus’ on facebook member Chris Shofner’s public profile. The video’s subject and video’s author are two different people who share the same name. The video documents portions of his profile that were observed on a particular day. Interestingly this information is available to all facebook members. The appropriated images are juxtaposed with audio content that is read from media law websites. The piece questions issues of identity, sharing, privacy, misappropriation, and the first amendment related to social networking. For optimal viewing the participant should be in a stereo sound environment.

Facing Reality (2008)

Performance, Video, Audio

"Facing Reality" is a situational/interactive performance in which I attempt to condition and persuade the audience to react in particular ways. Upon entering (during the unseen "Introduction") I work up the crowd for a television broadcast. This allows me to become a manipulator of my audience. The manipulation is based on the compliance gaining technique known as “Foot in the Door.” According to Dr. Robert H. Gass in his book Social Influence and Compliance Gaining, “the tactic involves making a small request first and then making a second larger request.” Studies show that if the person concedes to the first request they are more likely to respond positively to the second, larger request.

Text Me (2008)

Performance, Video, Audio

In "Text Me" I interact with the audience and ask them to react and conform to predetermined signals and requests made on the projected video. First audience members are asked to send a text message to anyone they wish. Then as the musical performance progresses video cues prompt the audience to send me a text message. At first the work seems manipulative, but it evolves into an issue of privacy. Not only has the artist’s private space been destroyed by divulging his personal cell phone number, but many others will have willingly committed their name, phone number and answer to a predetermined question which may possibly be displayed in real-time on the video projection. The cell phone becomes a metaphor for the destruction of private space. It is with this device, the cell phone that we can be reached at almost any place at any time.

The Survey (2008)

Performance, Video, Audio

"The Survey" is an endurance challenge that utilizes video imagery appropriated from social networking sites. It is common today for people of all ages to participate in on-line surveys that their confirmed friends are privy to. I often find that when I view these surveys I am looking for more than information about my friends, but also information about myself. It becomes a very comparative study and search for normalcy. Within the framework of this survey I can determine social constructs that I will inevitably wish to conform to. During the middle of this segment of the performance I attempt to hold my breath for as long as I can without taking a breath for five minutes in order to create a metaphor for the stifling nature of this interaction. While over this duration breathing will be necessary several times, the intended effect will still eventually occur (pain).

FW: Who was your last... (2009)

Video Loop

"FW: Who was your last" is a coded video loop. The text is taken from the directions for an online survey that was distributed through a popular social networking site. It's almost as if the artist is trying to find meaning in each word, letter, and shape. This investigation is a metaphor for our interaction with social networking and search for normalcy.

Global Social Railway (2014)

Live Video, Audio

In GSR artist Chris Shofner collaborates with musicians to engage the intersection of art and technology through a 15-20 minute site-specific improvisational cinema and sound/music performance.  The video artist and musicians respond to one another.

“Global Social Railway” conceptualizes political economist and communication theorist Harold Innis’ history of the Canadian Pacific Railway into an artistic performance of visual and aural improvisation.

 

Live Cinema Rig Rundown (2014)

Video, Audio

Explanation of tools used to create Global Social Railway.

Online Survey (2007)

Video Projection, Audio

"Online Survey" juxtaposes an endurance challenge with the reading of an online survey appropriated from a popular social networking site. It is common today for people of all ages to participate in on-line surveys that their confirmed friends are privy to. I often find that when I view these surveys I am looking for more than information about my friends, but also information about myself. It becomes a very comparative study and search for normalcy. Within the framework of this survey I can determine social constructs that I will inevitably wish to conform to. The video gives the impression that I'm holding my breath for five minutes, a false reality much like that created in the context of social networking.

Paul Wall Performace (2006)

Performance, Video, Audio

The "Paul Wall Performance" is driven by the lyrics of rapper Paul Wall's track, "Tryin' to Get Paid."  The music transitions through a contemporary American history.  The juxtaposition of music genre, lyrics, Rorschach imagery, and performance location comments on the current state of the "commercial" Art world.  The "Paul Wall Performance" is a collaboration with Alex Bayer.

Search (2010)

Video, Audio

"Search" is based off of a series of questions posed by Neil Postman in his book, "Amusing Ourselves to Death." Postman suggests that these questions are a means through which it might be possible for Americans to begin talking back to their television sets. "Search" strives to discover if these questions are pertinent to new media or if they are only relevant to a past time. Each question was searched on Google Images and Youtube. The top ten results from each were selected and combined.

Coming On Strong (2011)

Video Loop, Site-Specific Installation

According to SensationalColor.com these are the colors that are coming on strong in 2011. “Coming On Strong" is a tongue-in-cheek commentary about Design's existence in the Fine Art world and it’s backing by the gallery system.  Installation of video projection is site-specific. The video is projected into intersecting walls.

Motivation (2007)

Interactive Installation, Video, Audio

"Motivation" is an interactive installation.  It uses the ideas of shame and guilt to discuss fear.   The video explains the installation elements.

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