Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Invader Invasion

You may have seen them on occasion, in Paris or in your city... Some people fevereshly "collect" them by trying to assemble as many pictures of them as possible, some people think nothing of them, most walk past them without ever seeing them...

His notoriety comes in part of his carefully maintained anonymity. Yet his mark is in most major cities: the artist known as "Invader", who places those little tiled video game characters on walls around the world.

The artist - all we know about him is that he was born in 1969 and that he is Parisian - crafted his viral showcasing carefully. He placed one single Invader mosaic in a small Paris street in the mid-nineties. That lone "scout", as he called him, was the only presence until 1998 when the mass invasion started. In a few weeks, between 400 and 500 Invaders were spread around the city. After Paris, he moved to other French cities, and soon started traveling around the world.

City after city (37 to date, map available here), his modus operandi is the same: the mosaics, sometimes hundreds, are prepared ahead of time and packed up in the luggage. Once on site, he works intensively to place every single one, usually around 10 feet high. Depending on the extent of the invasion, it can take up to a week. He doesn't only work at night: even though his actions are illegal, he works quickly enough to not get caught.

The locations are chosen carefully. You may see one on an extremely busy street, where thousands of people walk by without noticing it (see one example at the corner of Quai de Montebello and Rue de l'Hôtel Colbert, across from Notre Dame) or on the contrary, on small, deserted streets (who ever goes to Rue Poliveau?). In Montpellier, they are placed in such a way that when you map them on a city map, they form the shape of a huge invader. Each letter of the "HOLLYWOOD" sign bears one; there are some on the Great Wall of China, on the Louvre... not everybody agrees with placing street art on historical monuments, but they're there.

These mosaics are quite durable; people have tried to remove them to take them home, but they only managed to break them into pieces. However, Invader also does gallery work: he uses hundreds of Rubik's Cubes, which he arranges to form large mosaics (photos here). His work has featured in several galleries around the world, thanks to the Internet buzz that his characters created.

To see his work, just look up!


**Photo Credit: Flickr CC - Some rights reserved by kurtxio

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