New Media Artist Matt Starr Offers Perspective On The Reality Of The Downtown NYC Lifestyle
Last night inside the dimly lit SoHo Safari Gallery space, we are told one thing, “to diet.” Matt Starr, the 25 year-old new media artist stole the show and presents us with his new monochromatic “lifestyle brand”. Treadmills, exercise bikes, yoga mats, and cigarettes among other art objects are stamped with the ironic “Diet” logo and sold at the pop up “juice bar.” He sat down with Galore magazine to shed light on his new exhibit for the DKNY sponsored “New Art City” show.
Interview by Sea Shimooka
When did you first start get into art?
About four years ago.
What was the first piece of art you ever created?
The first video I ever made was called Narcissism. Half the film was a reflection of me jerking off in a pond and then the other half was of me f***ing myself.
You made this for college?
Yes, and after showing the video to my class and professor I was recruited into the New Media Digital Art BFA. I graduated with my BFA and a double major in Art History. Then I moved to New York.
Why New York?
After graduating I started a World Famous Talking Heads dance group and I thought New York would be the perfect place to pursue that.
There’s a socialite artist’s movement going on, where new young artists are invited to fashion shows and getting all this press. Is that something you strive for?
I’m not sure I totally understand what the word socialite means. But I think that all artists want a platform on which their voice can be heard.
Who do you think your audience is?
The majority of my audience is gay which is how I like it.
Was this exhibit at all inspired by the healthy organic living culture that is so prevalent today?
DKNY wanted me to make something representative of downtown. Downtown isn’t the art centric grungy paradise we romanticize it to be. As far as I can tell downtown has become an organic, fit, oasis that runs on kale juice. I can’t afford to live that lifestyle, but I certainly enjoy admiring it. I like watching people at Liquiteria and Soul Cycle. Everyone is so pretty. They all seem so happy. Even the people who aren’t attractive become more attractive when sucking down that Deep Blue Açai smoothie. They just come out and everyone’s glowing and sure enough it makes me feel like my skin’s glowing.
Where did the idea “diet” come from?
I wanted to create a lifestyle brand inspired by the downtown scene. Conceptually speaking though, diet came from the Subtraction Equals Addition equation. In which removing some of the substance from an object psychologically creates something MORE. Like Coke and Diet Coke. Diet Coke is the same as regular Coke except with a few ingredients missing and people go crazy for it. It seems to me that the downtown scene has less substance then ever before and people are still dying to buy it.
Are the objects intended as art pieces or for functional use?
I’m selling art objects. That being said, people are going to use it however they like. Everything is functional.
What’s your favorite piece you created for this show?
The diet cans. I’m really into shiny things. I also like the treadmills. I think it’s always a nice element to have something moving in a space. I find that people are really into movement in galleries. Everything in the space can be viewed as an individual object, but I design experiences, so I need them all.
Are you on a diet right now?
Duh, but it’s not a conscious one. With diet, I thought it would be interesting, if everything I made, everything I did, was diet, then I could never break my diet. I could never f*** up a diet because I’m always on my diet.