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Space Invaders

October 26, 2015

Invader was born in Paris in 1969. While his real name is unknown, his street art, with the help of his small team called Space Invaders, is well known in a total of 60 cities and 30 countries around the world. His mosaics, featuring characters from video games in the 1970s-1980s, can even be found on the Hollywood sign. But why would Invader spend his time making video game artwork? Well, he considers himself to be “a hacker of public space spreading a virus of mosaic”(Wikipedia). He believes the characters from the video games Space Invaders to be representative of this digital age. Invader’s ultimate goal is to free artwork from the confined space of museums, in which the audience is limited to a certain population. The video game creatures of the 70s and 80s were made of pixels- or small squares of color—so tile mosaics make a realistic representation of them. Throughout the years, Invader began developing his own creatures through his tile mosaics, and now creates his images with rubik’s cubes. When invader is creating his artwork (often done at nighttime), or attending one of his own art exhibitions, he wears a mask so that his face will never be recognized. He is not only producing street art, but is playing a game in which his art continues to appear sporadically in public places—with no recognizable artist. Invader has accepted arrests as an ‘occupational hazard’. He has spent a total of 22 nights in jail, some of them due to an incident in 2013 in France. Although the owner of the ‘defaced’ building in France decided to keep the mosaic Invader created, the police put him in handcuffs right outside of the building. Another incident occurred in Los Angeles in 2011, after Invader installed a mosaic in an alleyway of street art called “Art in the Streets.” On his website, Space Invader claims that “There are some countries where I cannot travel anymore as I may be prosecuted,” (space-invaders.com). Filling largely populated cities with his artwork has not been enough for Invader. Invader has invaded the sky with his artwork. His piece called Space One floated up and beyond the stratosphere with the help of an air balloon. Invader’s art can also be found below sea level, in the Cancun Bay in Mexico. He did this specifically for Scuba Divers, and for his ultimate goal of infusing his artwork all around the world.The public has shown to truly appreciate Invader’s street art as well. In Hong Kong, a replica of his life-sized Hong Kong Phooey sold for $250,000 in an auction. When the original was taken down in early 2014 in order to “ensure the safety of road users”, locals were extremely disappointed. So the obvious question here is: Why do people place so much worth in simple tile mosaics of video game characters? Invader himself claims that the mosaics are extremely easy to make. He suggests that if a person ever wants to own one, they should simply make it themselves. He claims, “It is not a very difficult assembly work and it is possible to find similar types of tiles I use,” (space-invaders.com). So if his artwork is not valued for its difficulty, or even for its originality (video game replicas), then why would someone pay $250,000 for a replica of it? The answer is simple. People all over the world appreciate Invader’s effort of bringing some color and creativity to the streets. In the dense, highly populated cities that Invader visits, from Los Angles to Hong Kong, life is often routine for citizens. Life involves waking up, getting to work on time, coming home, and caring for family. Finding a tile mosaic planted on one’s work building, or favorite coffee shop, however, is not routine it all. Invader’s mosaics represent simple fun and spontaneity in our routinized, technological age. Once again, Invader creates his artwork in cities all around the world, making it a global phenomenon, and not limitted it to a certain population of people. The public may appreciate Invader’s work even more with the understanding that by creating it, he is risking jail time. In some cities, the police force welcomes his work, while in others he is arrested on the spot. Despite this, Invader insists that, “The Game is not over.”

 

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