The National Institute of Design graphic design student using motion to ask important and relevant questions about the world
Within the first semester of a mechanical engineering course, Syddharth Mate realised that he wasn’t cut out to become an engineer. A hunt for extracurricular activities on campus led to a serendipitous accident, that would go on to define his career. Syddharth discovered graphic design during an introductory workshop for Photoshop. As a shy kid who grew up in a small town called Bhilai in central India, Syddharth soon realised that it was much easier to use his creativity instead of his words to communicate complex ideas. “I was never an eloquent person. So the ability to express abstract ideological concepts through visuals — and without having to vocalise my thoughts — is a very liberating experience and has driven my creative growth,” he says.
Syddharth’s concept-driven and experimental practice gravitates towards socio-political and philosophical themes, and his projects are often a visual commentary on how he perceives the world and its current issues. ‘Plastic Matters’ began as a classroom project at National Institute of Design, where he is currently pursuing a Masters programme in graphic design. Inspired by the idea of sustainability, ‘Plastic Matters’ was intended to be an awareness campaign about plastic pollution, but doubled up as a satirical take on the plasticity of our society. Featuring half-eaten burgers and posters that ask “How Plastic Are We?”, the project pitches waste as a design flaw, and is at once striking and unforgettable.
His fascination with the idea of change led him to experiment with motion graphics and kinetic typography, inspired by the work of DIA and Studio Feixen. “Motion adds a new layer of meaning to a static composition. The dimension of time creates new possibilities of communicating a message. A static image of a clock has a different meaning from a motion piece where the hands of the clock are moving anticlockwise. I have only begun to experiment with the medium and it’s exciting how much there is still to explore,” he explains. By building in kinesis in his work, Syddharth makes shapes slip, slide and collide with each other to create digits, alphabets and pulsating compositions.
His penchant for motion and a need to ask important and often unsettling questions shapes much of his work. “When my grandmother passed away, I was having a conversation with a friend who said, ‘Our lives are like a single statement’. My grandmother’s life was a statement of kindness and benevolence towards all. I thought of the world today, which is engulfed in constant chaos, with the privileged exploiting the weak. We lack empathy towards not only our fellow human beings, but all other lifeforms. All of this angst filtered into my project ‘Humankind’, with the core idea ‘The humankind needs more kind humans.’ What we should be thinking about is when our time is up, what kind of a statement would we want to make with our lives?” he muses.
Syddharth is currently interning with Adobe for his graduation project, while juggling personal and commissioned projects. He is also busy learning to play keyboards, and later this year, he wants to create MIDI driven audio-visual systems. We are keeping our eyes peeled for what he whips up next, and so should you.