Rahul S. Shinde: The Interview
Philadelphia graphic designer Rahul S. Shinde is disrupting the music video credits format, amongst other things.
Philadelphia graphic designer Rahul S. Shinde’s new website www.r-s-s-.net is out now. The Right Kind Of Brownies caught up with Shinde in Philadelphia.
Follow Rahul S. Shinde online.
1. What is your earliest memory of art?
My mom used to work at the liberty science center in NJ. There's this huge chandelier that's a Hoberman Sphere.
It’s kind of like Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic Dome, but this is the type that can collapse in on itself to be smaller than when it is expanded.
Anyway, that shit would constantly be moving around, and I'd be there with my grandpa or something tearing around the second story while she was working.
2. How artistic is your family?
Very. My dad’s a material scientist but has some really hype sketchbooks and sculptures from when he was in grad school/his Ph.D. My mom’s a graphic designer like me. She went to one of the first design schools in India called The National Institute of Design. She then went to Yale for her masters and was taught by all these American/European design legends, Armin Hofmann, Paul Rand, etc. My sister, a singer and dancer, just graduated undergrad, but I'm hyped to see what the future holds for her. She's way smarter than me, so I have high expectations. They are all so supportive and really get what I do. I'm so blessed it's unbelievable, to be honest. I couldn't imagine a better family.
3. What do you remember about the first piece of art you created?
I have these paintings I made in preschool that my mom keeps in her dining room. She always jokes that people ask 'who are these by' as if a professional painter made them. She says she feels a lot of power in them, but I think I just liked the feeling of finger paints.
4. I haven't come across many websites like yours. It's almost vintage.. retro... but it still feels modern. Can you speak on the process behind creating it?
I think the aesthetic comes slightly from a vintage nostalgia thing. I missed out on early computing, didn't really fuck with a computer until college, so in the last 4-5 years, I've just gotten more and more into the history of programming/hardware, its ethos, aesthetics, etc. I'm never trying to copy something I see. I like to approach websites I'm working on as paintings or sculptures, trying to consider the raw materials to inform how the thing looks and feels, so, in that way, a lot of my websites look like basic HTML pages. rahulshinde.com runs on a custom Ruby on Rails engine that I use for professional projects, so it's masking a complicated database that's a bit excessive for how I'm using it. Ultimately I just wanted that site to reflect the manic production I engage in, long lists, semi-organized files, iPhone photos, and screenshots.
5. Your new website - r-s-s.net - itself is a lot to take in.
Definitely. While the site itself is a lot denser, I think it does a couple of things better than my old site that reflects the importance and purpose. r-s-s.net is a receipt of a home server I'm still in the process of setting up. It takes stored folders and some YAML files and parses them into the HTML page you see. I'm interested in making the site much more temporal rather than an archive and showcase what’s important to me at the time of viewing. It's organized with text/links to friends at the top. Then projects I've just finished. Followed by what I'm in the process of looking at/thinking about (also eating cus foods mad important!). And finally, text documentation of stored projects without any of the associated content. The big difference between rahulshinde.com and r-s-s.net is that the latter no longer stores files for old projects on the server showing you the website, all of the project documentation is sitting at home with me. This is conceptually interesting because I think data protection/ownership is super important and because server farms are disgusting and waste so much energy. It’s easy to ignore that digital media is still wasteful and takes up physical space, so I’m trying to be more conscious of this. I think showing everything I've worked on is important for transparency, the money that sustains me sometimes comes from questionable places. Still, I don’t think you can have a moral relationship as a laborer within capitalism. When I was in school, I was very taken by the image of being a designer working in the arts/culture industry, but it’s just as whack/sinister as corporate work.
6. If you could ask Elon Musk anything, what would you ask him?
When are you planning to pay reparations? Maybe I’d also ask for a tour of a Space-X facility. I bet those rocket scientists are sick.
7. If you were to make a song, what genre would it be?
I was talking to a friend about this. If I make it to 50, I kind of wanna start smoking again and get a super gnarly voice, and then when I'm 70, do, like, a Tom Waits folk album thing, sing/talk about stories/people/fictions from the past and present or something silly like that.
8. You label your projects under Energy Transfer... why?
When I added that, I tried to differentiate the work I do for money and the work I produce because I value its existence. Energy Transfer kind of feels like a nod to a larger life view, a bastardized version of the law of conservation. As a human, I am an assemblage of a finite amount of energy, so those projects all share a piece of me that I'm giving away. It's nice to feel yourself in your work, I think, and the nice thing is that the work always has the possibility of giving back to you. There is always a balance in energy transfer.
9. The Internet radio Sunday brunch is the coolest thing I've ever seen. Please explain.
I really appreciate the kind words. Yeah, I'm pretty hype on it. I just like making mixes. I love music. I think people who make music are so sick. Sunday Brunch was the name of a college radio show I had, me and my homie Ben would get drunk/high on Wednesday nights, talk shit, and show each other weird music we were into. As I've put more time and intention into it, I’ve been asking people to contribute if they are interested. I've been trying to find more time for it more recently, treat it more like a proper 'show'. I’ve also found that having an audio-only project is a nice counterpart to my visual work.
10. With so much emphasis on tech, do you unplug to stay away from screens often?
Not enough. I work a 9-5 and usually work on my own stuff, which keeps me on the computer most of the day. I'm trying to learn more about hardware this year, so hopefully, that gives me an excuse to spend time away from the screen, but it's pervasive. I've been getting back into skating tho which is sick. I go hang out under the freeway practicing tricks and come home smelling like motor oil—beats sitting in my bedroom all day.
11. There's something academic about you. What is your education?
I got a BFA in graphic design from Maryland Institute College of Art. I'm trying to be on my indi-academic grind now, start studying all the stuff I didn't take seriously in high school/got to skip in art school, and actually build a nice knowledge base to pursue projects from. My boss's background is in physics, so I keep bugging him to help me figure out stuff.
12. Where will the world be in 2050?
Damn, I really don't wanna end on a pessimistic note. I hope shit gets better. Everyone in America seems like they're only looking out for themselves, and who can blame them? You know, it's all been so fucked. For America, at least, I hope we figure out a better system of governance, get the money out of politics, provide more power to disenfranchised people across race/gender identities, all that shit. But I feel like we r poised to have one of those tech billionaires become president, so it's probably just gonna be more of the same tech dystopia. Maybe we'll be working together in an amazon warehouse getting tased by those Boston dynamic security robots they’re putting in Brooklyn right now.