Alpha Rats delivering the heat in Nisza Zine 12. Get to know the great visual artist and read the interview below! ⚡️
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up?
Alpha Rats: Hi everyone! I’m a VR developer and visual artist. 🙂 I’m french of Russian origin, and mostly grew up in the Paris suburbs after spending my early childhood in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Prague.
What is it you do and how did you get into it?
AR: I work as a freelance developer and technical artist on VR and interactive projects for the media industry and as an artist assistant. I also work on my own projects on the side, which are usually more experimental and less academic that the ones I get to work on as a contractor. I’ve been really into computers and tech ever since I got to use a PC as a kid, and I’m self taught. I got into programming through online resources and a few books, and then mostly learned by doing, by working on my own projects, participating in game jams, and working on different jobs, expanding my skillset.
Aside from all this, I also publish a zine called Spektrum Crush, which I like to qualify being about “digital garbage”, but really is centered around digital art, experimental games, and derivative works inspired by the universe of games. I was trained as a stonemason and worked a bit as a stone sculptor, which is really unrelated to what I am doing nowadays.
What is your main motive or message you are trying to communicate through your work and why?
AR: I think a lot of what I do is driven by a form of DIY ethic, as I tend to be inspired mainly by underground or niche artists, and I really find strength and inspiration in the idea of doing what you can with the skills and resources you have, even if they are limited. By expanding your skills you can expand the possibilities you have to create, autonomously or in collaboration with people. If anyone gets inspired, excited, or gets a sense of awe from whatever I make, I consider my work to be done. When other people provide me the spark to get going with whatever I do, I feel like doing the same and try to provoke a similar impulse with my own means, propagating this energy around. 🙂
Who or what inspires you?
AR: Many things! But if I had to narrow it down, I think I get a lot of inspiration from hacker culture, science-fiction, the demoscene, anime, music, technology, science, mysticism, and the natural world. I don’t fetishize technology by any means, but I really like the forward-thinking and futuristic ideas surrounding it. I hope this is all not too vague 🙂
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
AR: Colourful, dark, playful.
What are you working on right now?
AR: Currently I’m collaborating with the R’n’B artist GLOR1A, working together on a live A/V show. We are now preparing a new version of the project which includes a “twitch plays” game, allowing the audience to play together through the chat box as the performance is streamed live. It will be shown at the next Rewire festival in May 2021, so don’t sleep! haha 🙂
Otherwise I’m preparing a crowd-funding campaign for the next issue of Spektrum Crush zine, and preparing my VR game Celestial Reactors to be released in a bundle this month together with works from other experimental game devs.
As an artist what are your goals and your dreams? What have you already accomplished
AR: Well, as a teenager I was dreaming of living in Japan and being a cool VR hacker like in Ghost in the Shell, and I guess I managed to get to a lame version of this. But I don’t think I managed to create a really good VR experience yet, so as an artist I’m still pretty much not accomplished. I am proud of the zine though, and the way it allowed to create a sense of belonging for myself and hopefully for some of the participating artists too.
How would you describe the art scene in Tokyo? Has your location affected your work in any way?
AR: I don’t know if my location affected my work yet, as I rely a lot on the internet to connect with other artists, so it kind of reduces the importance of the exact location in the world I might be in. Concerning the art scene in Tokyo, what I saw is mostly a very active and vibrant underground music scene, around venues such a FORESLIMIT, for example. Like everywhere, you can find very committed, generous and passionate people, and I’m thankful I managed to meet some of them (some magazines to read/checkout about the scene in Tokyo would be Avyss magazine and Chorareii). I started a vTuber type of project while being here though, the peep is called Moe Bebius. I think seeing a very active VRChat and vTuber scene in Japan made me feel more comfortable making this vtuber idea happend without holding myself back. It revived a bit my passion for social VR and the idea of incarnating an avatar.
What music are you listening to while creating your artworks?
AR: When I program I usually listen to nothing. I have a one-track mind. When drawing or doing 3D, it can vary a lot honestly. It all depends on the project and what visual mood I have to convey, I pick the sound accordingly. Often I will also just listen to a podcast or some documentary, maybe in the hope that somehow a random idea will come and infuse whatever I’m creating.