Rafael Parra Toro (PARRATORO) is an argentinean-venezuelan experimental artist and engineer based in Brooklyn NY. He is highly influenced by optical and kinetic geometrical art.

With a background working in the games industry, he participated in the Pictoplasma Academy, Berlin in 2013, exhibiting new works as part of the Pictoplasma Festival earlier this year.

In July he launched a Kickstarter project to fund his latest project POP ON OP – an interactive real-time animation object-book that uses a simple horizontal-sliding movement of a special film provided inside to create an optical illusion.

Last time we saw you was at Pictoplasma where you exhibited as part of the Academy group show – how did that experience change / influence / inspire your practice as an artist?

Pictoplasma Academy for me was the beginning of my self-trust, so the beginning of my career as an artist. Sharing with so talented fellow classmates and tutors (Nathan Jurevicius, Rilla Alexander, Benjamin Van Oost, Philip Hunt and Gary Baseman), completely opened my mind, and the sense that there’s no way to do it wrong.

Can you share the story of where you grew up, what your early interests were and how you became an artist?

I grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. It’s a very beautiful city surrounded by mountains and trees. Also there’s a huge amount of public art by the kinetic artist I admire the most (Carlos Cruz Diez, Jesús Soto and Alexander Calder). They definitely influenced me, as I studied engineering, my University (UCV) itself, kept me in contact with this kind of art, it was unavoidable some way. Once I got my degree, I told my mother I was going to be an artist. And now I think engineering influence is obvious on my work.

How did you develop this visual style and the concept for the book?

I’ve been experimenting with “moiré” since I was a child, but only reached this style a couple of years ago. Venezuelan op artists influenced me a lot. POP ON OP came about rom experimentation, and when I figured out people wanted to experience movement by themselves, the idea was there.

Can you tell us about your inspirations and ideas? What drives you?

Freedom. I am an artist to be free, and part of that freedom is not asking myself “what do I want to say”  or “where does it come from”, it is 100% visceral, although there’s a lot of calculation involved, the ideas flow with no barriers or structure.

Describe the “moiré” effect – what is it and how did you discover it / start making use of it as an art form?

Moiré effect is an optical illusion based on a pattern which is a product of two similar shapes superimposed. I found it so interesting, that I started to use color on it, and creating the so called “color induction” to create gamma that don’t even exist on the surfaces. So I combined these concepts with basic animation principles to create things.

Moiré effect is an optical illusion based on a pattern which is a product of two similar shapes superimposed.

How did you finance the making of the first book that we see in your Kickstarter video?

A made at least 20 books until the final version came in, there is a complex system on the cover that took me some time to solve. Unfortunately I financed it by myself, because I couldn’t find a better way to show people what I really wanted to do.

Why did you decide to make a book? What is it about this format that appeals to you?

A book, because I wanted it to be on people’s hands. My kinetic work is mainly made with plexiglass, which is expensive; I wanted to make it affordable to everyone, and that adults and children can play with it.

Have there been a lot of challenges involved in realising the project?

Wow.. a LOT of challenges, but I think the main one, was actually the product itself. Things like size, colors and designs take a lot of time and effort, and a huge amount of trial and error.

Launching a Kickstarter campaign instead of approaching a publisher directly carries a certain level of risk – why did you choose to do it this way?

I wanted people to valuate [the project] directly, I also love feedback, and there’s no better way to get that than through crowd funding.

Has your idea and the book been received well so far?

Yes, it’s been incredibly good. A lot of people are sharing and commenting and being very positive about it; I hope I can fund my goal because production is expensive. There is a special system on the cover that is only economically viable with mass production. So I hope people will get behind the project and make it possible.

If your project is funded successfully what happens then?

The first what is going to happen is the mass-production of POP ON OP, to send to my lovely backers, they will have priority and some of them will have an exclusive Kickstarter edition. There is no more plans and no another agreement for the moment.

What are your aspirations for POP UP OP – do you hope to produce a series of books, make larger scale pieces – where can you go from here?

I haven’t thought about it yet, but it is probable. What I am sure about, is that my backers will always get benefits on any product related to POP ON OP.

Where do you see your work taking you in the next decade?  What kind of projects, collaborations, experiences do you hope to cultivate for yourself?

I would love to do more books and exhibitions, also collaborating with other artists.. And, for the moment, I’m planning to do a really cool film that I’m really excited about.



Posted on Jul 16th, 14 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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