Paris Space Invaders
The video game-themed street art first popped up in the French city.
As a tourist in Paris, you will likely find yourself near the Notre Dame cathedral. Consider a short detour about a thousand feet south, and you’ll a small space invader on public display: PA-03, which originally appeared 1998.
While walking the streets of Paris, you have undoubtedly spotted small tile mosaics on the sides of buildings, typically one story above street level, ranging in size from a square foot to much larger. Many are in the shape of the pixelated characters from the 1978 video game Space Invaders.
The artist known as “Invader” (Franck Slama), a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, started erecting this street art in 1998. A bit of a rebel, he gravitated toward street art, though he favored ceramic tile over spray paint, as he liked the permanence of the medium.
Knowing his work was created to last, Invader kept a comprehensive database of all of his art. Each piece has a catalog number. For instance, PA-199 is the 199th piece to be placed in Paris and LDN-147 is the 147th piece to be placed on London—you get the idea. As of July 2019, Invader has placed and cataloged more than 3,700 works of art in 78 cities worldwide. Paris, where it all started, has more than a third of the total.
A few blocks away from PA-03, where Rue Monge hits Rue d’Arras, you will find PA-04, also originally dating back to 1998. PA-01 had a known location, but it has been “deleted,” as has PA-002 (though it has been re-activated by others). As of July 2019, PA-04 was also partially destroyed. It appears as though PA-03 and PA-04 may have been completely destroyed at some point but were later restored, though it’s unclear if the restoration was the work of the original artist.
Know Before You Go
If you enjoy the hunt for Invader art, it is recommended that you install the Flashinvaders app on your smartphone, which allows you to snap a photo of each invader. The app will analyze the image and inform you if the artwork is made by Invader or an imitator. It will also display the catalog number, the date of creation, and the name of the piece. For the fun of it, you score points for each unique acquisition. You can also see a live feed of other snaps being taken around the world. Enjoy the hunt.
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