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Notoriously private, Invader will often pixelate his face for video interviews or wear a mask. When carrying out his street art—which he calls ‘invasions’—he works at night with a mask to protect his anonymity, which makes his personal life difficult to record. On top of this, he regularly tells interviewers that he graduated from a tiling school on Mars, instead of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he actually graduated.
He claims his mission is to invade the planet with video game characters, made with tiles that he sticks on walls in cities around the world, doing so through tactics he calls ‘invasion waves’. He has managed to install up to 100 Space Invaders in public spaces within cities across the world.
Describing his work as one of the most addictive games he’s ever played, Invader started his “invading” career in the late 90s in Paris, which remains the primary location for his work. “Anytime, anywhere” is Invader’s philosophy, and he tries to evolve and reinvent himself at all times whilst leading a precise and serious invasion project. The street artist chose Space Invaders as a central theme throughout his work and cites them as perfect icons of our time, where digital technologies are the very heartbeat of our world.
Since beginning his practice, Invader has developed his style by increasing diversity. What started as simple Space Invader characters evolved to include other pop culture references, such as Star Wars characters, the Pink Panther, Spider Man, Hong Kong Phooey, and Popeye. Now, his creations are detached from the 1978 Atari game, and are often shaped by their surroundings. One example can be seen on sites near major banks which have been marked with dollar sign mosaics, whilst those in Hong Kong often have an oriental theme.
Each “invasion” usually takes Invader about two weeks to complete, with the actual installation taking around a week, using weather-resistant tiles. Invader also maps, catalogues, and photographs all his works to be included in his “invasion maps”, which are then printed and distributed for fans across the world. There is also an app that fans can use to hunt for mosaics globally, with each city being scored from 1-100, depending on how many times it’s been “invaded”.
However, the artist’s invasion does not stop there. In Montpelier, locations were cleverly chosen to depict a giant Space Invader when plotted on a map. Furthermore, Invader makes QR code mosaics using black and white tiles, which can be easily decoded using QR readers on smartphones. One such message read: “This is an Invasion.”
Invader’s creations can be found in highly visible locations in over 65 cities across 33 countries. However, not all of Invader’s creations are easily seen. One of his Space Invaders is located 7000 feet above ground at the arrival of the ski lift in the village of Anzere in Switzerland, while the highest was installed in the International Space Station in 2015. On the contrary, the lowest and arguably least visible Space Invaders can only be found by experienced scuba divers, as they are located well below sea level in the Cancun Bay, Mexico. Perhaps most famously, Invader established a tiled creature on the ‘D’ of the Hollywood sign on New Years Eve in 1999. He was swiftly reprimanded, though he claims that nothing but the death penalty would stop him from invading, which he believes is unlikely because of the nature of the crime. In light of this, he went on to place Space Invaders on eight other letters of the sign in later trips to Los Angeles
Since 2004, Invader has diversified his work to include the use of Rubik’s Cubes, a style which the artist refers to as “Rubikcubism”, a play on the Cubist Movement of the early 20th Century. Using innovative software, Invader deduces the precise distribution of the six colors of a Rubik’s Cube in order to achieve a desired outcome. He then manipulates one side of each Rubik’s Cube to arrive at the required pattern. Eventually, the stacking of cubes results in a full image, which is then secured against a backing board. Each piece is typically composed of approximately 300 cubes, measures about 3 ft × 4 ft, and weighs approximately 36 kilograms, though the exact dimensions depend on the subject and the level of detail.
Under this movement, Invader has three collections: Bad Men, which compromises portraits of villains, like Osama Bin Laden, Jaws, and Al Capone, Low Fidelity, which is based on iconic album art like Nevermind and The Velvet Underground & Nico, and Masterpieces, which imitates famous paintings by artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein. These collections were displayed at the 2007 London Invasion Exhibition at The Outsiders London, as well as at the Low Fidelity Exhibition at Lazarides Rathbone in 2009.
Other mediums used to create and display his iconic artwork include a disco ball, which reflects Space Invaders onto a wall, a helium balloon tied to a radio camera to carry a mosaic into space, as well as a Space Invader-shaped waffle maker. The latter was shown at the boutique exhibition Space Waffles Attack! at The Outsiders London in 2011.
Invader’s work has been shown in renowned galleries around the world, including the MAMA Gallery in Rotterdam, Paris’ Magda Danysz Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He’s also hosted solo shows in France, America, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia. Invader gathered more exposure and attention after being featured in the acclaimed street art documentary, Exit Through The Gift Shop.
However, this rising popularity has been met with an increase of theft and vandalism, which has led to more artwork appearing in difficult-to-access locations. Invader also started creating larger works with more delicate tiles which can’t be removed without causing some damage to the overall piece, in an attempt to deter theft. He also advises people to source similar material and replicate his work as an economical solution. The artist also actively secures permission from building owners to turn their private property into mosaic hosts, which offers another form of protection.
To get his fans more involved in his work, Invader offers his own “Invasion Maps” and has created his own Flash Invaders game, where players can accumulate points for each Invasion captured on the app. He also offers readily prepared Invasion Kits online, which users can buy to replicate his work and complete their own “invasions”.
As of January 2020, Invader had installed mosaics in 79 cities around the world, with 3858 Space Invaders over 1.5 million ceramic tiles, and had published 24 “Invasion Maps”.