In her ongoing series titled Perspective, photographer Suzanne Saroff creates fractured and skewed images of common foods as seen through vessels filled with water and glass objects. The images play with concepts of light and shadow resulting in distorted still lifes that appear almost like digital glitches in an analogue main event. Abstracting yourself, steering away from the obvious, in order to see things differently allows for new interpretation. Just as Suzanne distorts reality through her glassware, DOIY gives new meaning, an alternative reality, to objects. Believing that the key to creativity is opening doors to new metaphors, the brand uses design to create objects with soul. DOIY changes a fish into a bag, a cactus into a bottle, a foot into a food platter, shaping gems of creativity that bring cheer to the modern life.
Flowers, food and fruits are recurrent objects in your work. Is this a fascination you always had? Why these objects?
I become very inspired by very ordinary objects and shapes, even if it’s just a tree I see standing outside my window, interacting with the sky, or an interestingly shaped building I encounter when I’m walking down the street. I pick up these elements and they tend to stick inside my mind. I’m especially attracted to natural objects, they’re just so beautiful and cool in their simplicity. A lot of the subjects in my work are organic, like flowers and fruits, the singular objects of nature.
You can still find nature in a city like New York?
I grew up in Montana but I love being in New York. It’s an amazing place to live. It’s so inspiring just to be out and about, to be around so many interesting people and there’s things going on all the time. When I’m doing a still life, I feel like I’m creating a little world of my own, and often I do so using objects or colors that are referencing nature even if I live inside the chaos of the city. Or maybe it’s because of that.
“For me that series is a playful exploration of the idea of really looking at ordinary objects. I think what I’m trying to say with that is there’s a different way of looking at things. All things.”
It’s as if you take ordinary objects you find and turn them into something else.
I think very common objects can be really beautiful. We’re so used to seeing them, and I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily think of them as things that could be beautiful. We don’t generally pause to reflect on those objects you know, and I think I’m trying to maybe force myself and others to take a moment and think about them. It might be just a tomato lying there, but I think it’s still possible to see that tomato as something pretty, something we can appreciate for just that.
Is that the message?
I think most people know my work from my series “Perspective”, in which I put ordinary things behind glasses of water. For me that series is a playful exploration of the idea of really looking at ordinary objects. I think what I’m trying to say with that is there’s a different way of looking at things. All things. When you see glasses of water with some papayas behind them you might initially think “ok, so that’s it then?”, while really the papayas reflected in the water are suddenly being contorted and looking kind of strange and weird but beautiful at the same time. They become this strange shape, giving them (and us) a different perspective on them. And then suddenly those papayas turn into something people find interesting.
My favourite picture is probably one from that series: the photo of the fish behind water. I’m actually having it printed for a last minute show and they’re printing it 20×20. I’ve never seen it that big so I’m really excited. It’s still a picture of a dead fish though, kind of strange but also kind of beautiful. It makes me think about a fish out of water, head flipping around. It’s almost like the fish is looking at itself, and I like that idea. I don’t want it to just be a pretty flower next to a cup.
How did the glass thing happen?
I was in my kitchen one day and saw an orange behind a glass of water. I thought it was really cool seeing how the orange was moving because of its reflection in the water, almost as if it was dancing. It’s a very simple image, but it triggered something I wanted to explore more elaborately. I’ve always been super interested in optical illusions. I love how they can create something strange that still works somehow.
I think there’s a certain playfulness to turning objects into something else. I like using the word whimsical to explain it. I like to play around with things. It’s something we all did as children, just living your curiosity and playing with everything we find in our surroundings. It’s a part of our personalities that tend to fade a bit over time, so I’m trying to remember the feeling and keep it. When I saw the DOIY glasses I found them very beautiful and interesting, I knew I was going to be able to play with them. It’s so simple, you know?
DOIY changes a fish into a bag, a cactus into a bottle, a foot into a food platter. I remember a friend who was surprised by this turning of one shape into another one, like he couldn’t accept it wasn’t shaped as it is supposed to be.
That’s actually an important part of my work. I have another series that is all about playing with shadows. In photography we’ve seen this concept so many times though, so I felt like I had to try create a new visual convention for it. I worked with flowers for that work, although there’s also already so many people that photograph flowers, usually in a very similar way. So I decided to put salt on them during the shooting. People wouldn’t normally want to see flowers and salt together, yet once they were it looked very elegant.
The salty flower picture is hanging up my wall right now. I actually feel quite embarrassed about that, having my own piece up on my wall and all, so I kind of want to replace it with a work that isn’t mine, and I want this one to go to somebody else. I’m selling this one guys! (laughs)
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