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Taking his inspiration from 70’s and 80’s video games (his name is derived from the ‘Space Invaders’ arcade game), French artist Invader is interesting in a variety of ways, not least in the fact that he uses mosaics instead of spray paint. He has also used Star Wars characters, Pink Panther and Popeye. Like Banksy and many others, Invader protects his identity and refers to himself as an Unidentified Free Artist and has been ‘invading’ city spaces all over the world since 1998. In true video gaming style, he’s also kept score: 3280 Invaders / 65 CITIES ha ha. And speaking of identity, he’s one the artists who appears in the film ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’, itself an interesting and often funny look at celebrity and the art world.

If you’ve ever had to remove tiles you’ll know that its easier to break them than to save them as some collectors have found out with Invader’s work. One of his solutions is to offer ‘invasion kits’ for sale, so you too can build-your-own Space Invaders ha ha ha. Alternatively you could go to your local home-depot-bunnings-masters-whatever monstrosity you have in your town and purchase some construction strength glue and cheap building material and invade space with your own creation! Anyway, I like the approachable nature of this project and the fact that its industrial nature has the potential to make it almost invisible. ‘Why would you want to make it invisible?’ I hear you say and my point is that quietly altering a highly regimented and controlled environment is more important than getting arrested, banned or being famous for 15 minutes.

I don’t think I’ve written much about street art previously, but this process, along with old-school DIY book/zine/record publishing and the still largely decentralized internet, seems to be the last frontier of free expression and speech. Wanting to side step the museum and gallery system, Invader sees himself as a ‘hacker’ of public space, displaying work at street level for everyone to enjoy. Working in public spaces also rearranges a city’s architecture to an extent, at least giving it a much needed splash of colour. We already have our head and physical spaces invaded by all kinds of junk so why not Space Invaders or Shepard Fairey’s Andre The Giant?

www.space-invaders.com

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I saw this ‘film within a film’ recently, which starts off with as a documentary about street art until famed artist Banksy takes over (?) and documents the filmmaker becoming a street artist himself. It’s debatable whether he’s real, as the premise seems to be the approapriation or commodification of the art outside its own culture. It looks into the high art establishment and the way it treats art as an investment. Because how else do you sell something so ephemeral? You turn it into a product: video, photo, t-shirt, poster, wallpaper and….film. It is also clear that this relatively fresh (the 1983 film ‘Style Wars’ had documented the original street artists in New York), will influnce the design and advertising of the mainstream channels today. Every underground movement tends to influnce films, music videos, tv commercials, typography and fashion eventually, usually after its use by date. Another wave would have already started.

This is also a good exampe of project managament, due to Banksy’s hidden identity which simultaneously keeps the audience, the art world and the law enforcement coming back for more. In the film, Banksy constantly deflects questions about himself (his ideas/ morals/ values, etc) by projecting issues which are arguably more important than his personality. After all, some people believe that graffiti is the last true frontier of free speech. True or not?

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