PUTPUT, artists and photographers

In some ways, the work of the Danish-Swiss duo Putput could be considered a response to sites like this one: If we’re constantly bombarded by scrolls of images, the two designers seem to ask, how can we be convinced to reconsider objects that at first glance seem so quaintly familiar? Projects like their Popsicle series (above), which found the icy treats replaced by scrubbing sponges, or Inflorescence — for which the two employed the visual language of still life to depict cleaning implements as potted plants — play with subverting our expectations in a way that could seem cliché if the resulting images weren’t so exceedingly lovely. The two work at an increasingly trafficked intersection where photography, styling, art and design meet, which allows creators to control both the product and the way it’s presented — both the input and the output, as it were, which is where their clever studio name comes from. We recently caught up with the two recent grads as they were dipping a toe into the contemporary art world and looking for new studio space.

1. Describe your most recent project and how it was made:
“The most recent completed project is a series of images entitled Inflorescence. The work references classic still-life photography and presents highly staged and stylized scenarios where household cleaning and personal hygiene paraphernalia simulate flowers. The series aims to cause a visual double take through an exploration of the duality of objects we surround ourselves with everyday. We hope that the images will prompt the viewer to look twice and to reconsider the aesthetic quality of things that we usually never question or notice. The notion of the double take or looking twice is significant in all of our work; we are constantly flooded with imagery in our daily lives and convincing a viewer to look at an image more than once is a challenge.”

“Most of the cleaning utensils were found in Copenhagen but we have, since the completion of the project, developed a compulsion for collecting sponges wherever we go and now have quite an extensive collection from The Netherlands, England, Sweden and Germany. Also we have sponges coming from South Korea and Japan, as most of our friends have been recruited to look out for interesting specimens when they travel!”

“The Inflorescence images are currently on show in our first solo exhibition at Galleri Naboløs in Copenhagen and will also be shown at Art Copenhagen this month. Both occasions mark our entry into the commercial aspect of the art world, a slightly daunting but also very exciting development for us.”

2. Describe your next project and how you’re currently making it:
“We are continually fascinated by everyday objects, and in our next project we’re taking a slight departure from photography and venturing into the three-dimensional realm. We are collaborating with extremely skilled craftsmen on sculpture-based experiments that deal with material transformation, recognizability, perception, and value. It’s still quite early days and the project is expanding as we gain more knowledge of certain techniques and material properties. It is a very rewarding process and discovering the expressive capability of materials and how a simple shift in materiality completely alters the expression and reference frame of an object is very interesting. We hope that these experiments will provide a method of investigation that we can apply in other projects as well.”

“We have no images of the next project, but our Soft Construction project (above) is a good example of our approach to sculptural work. The Soft Construction series are standard building components rendered in soft foam, which eliminates the intended function and highlights the object as pure form.”
3. Tell us one thing that’s been inspiring you lately and why:
“We’ve been discussing the idea of inspiration and being inspired a lot lately and find it intriguing to examine why we latch onto certain things more that others. We’re having a difficult time with the word “inspiration;” we might be affected by other people or things we encounter but it doesn’t mean that this influence will actually lead to anything. Everything has the potential to be a starting point for the emergence of something new as long as it captures our interest and sparks a new development. In our work we try to interrogate objects and situations to see what they may become and of course that process starts by observing what they already are. We generally try to separate liking someone else’s work or expression and finding something that ignites an urge to reinvent or interpret which to us is where the real potential lies.”

“But of course there are people we admire and whose work we relish. An example is the Italian artist, designer and all around genius Bruno Munari. We appreciate his philosophy and approach to creating. The idea of the work is explicitly central which is something we aspire to achieve, also fun and passion is very present in everything from his hand.”

4. Show us your studio and tell us what you like about it:

“We are working from home at the moment. We are roommates as well as collaborators. We have included an image from the Gallery where our work is currently on show, it’s in one of the old central streets of Copenhagen and the building is around 300 years old. Somehow having a physical presence in the city where we work and live makes what we do tangible and gives us a very direct reaction to our work.”

Putput’s Objective Ambition installation
Inflorescence inkjet edition