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Invader turns traveling into an art-installation quest

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Flashinvader // Courtesy of Invader

Invader turns traveling into an art-installation quest

 

Future. Invader, an anonymous street artist, has been installing tiled-renderings of little aliens for over twenty years… and is now scoring a new legion of fans through an app that gamifies people going outside to find them. Even though Invader’s goal was to get people off of their screens, his success could actually be great news for the AR industry — here’s proof that tying tech to the physical world can bring out the best in both.

OG AR

Who needs the digital art of AR to gamify your life when Invader has been creating the real thing for the past 24 years.

  • The artist has been tiling mosaics of the classic arcade game Space Invaders on buildings, bridges, and other structures throughout Europe, North America, and beyond.
  • But how many aliens are we talking about here? According to Bloomberg, 4,056 mosaics (and counting) across 80 cities.
  • While his art has been a hit with travelers for decades, he minted a new following with the release of his app FlashInvader. In it, users are awarded points for finding his pieces.
  • Since the app’s launch in 2014, it has signed up 223,000 players (adding 1,000 new players per week) who have “flashed” over 14 million total invaders.

Invader has started to branch out his artwork, building characters from Pac-Man, Mario Brothers, and Q*Bert.

Tech tonic

While Invader has used an app to supercharge his popularity, the ethos behind his mosaics is still about getting people off their phones and out into the real world — what Bloomberg’s Sophie Stuber calls a “street-art revolt against tech.” Most of his works are installed without permission, but none of the building’s owners seem too upset. France’s justice ministry even admitted that “some works become real popular attractions, leading to specific tourism via routes in certain municipalities.”

In his home base of Paris, the invaders can be found in bookstores, bars, and museums. The artist said he hopes his pieces take people “to parts of the world they would otherwise never visit, and on a more local level, to neighborhoods or back streets where no one usually goes.”

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