One of my favorite things about New York is how you can walk by the same spot 99 times and the 100th time notice some small new detail. A perfect example is the small, barely noticeable works of street art by “Space Invader.” Bridging the gap between graffiti and mosaic, antiquity and technology these little pieces can be seen on the Williamsburg Bridge and around Chelsea, among a handful of other spots in New York. The works themselves are small mosaics mounted in publicly viewable places and are usually composed of one-inch square tiles depicting the pixilated aliens from the old school Atari game ‘Space Invaders.”
A trip out to see one may better experience the phenomenon. I recommend the one at 21st Street and Eleventh Avenue, on the south-east corner. There you’ll find a light blue alien on the foundation, easy to miss if you aren’t looking. The artist has placed many of his works in similarly overlooked spots, while others are outrageously placed enough to inspire the thought “how’d he do that?”
The “hard-to-find” works are like a little secret that the wall and the viewer share — a joke played on the serious New York art world or a prank on the side of an historic Chelsea landmark done up with period trimmings. And no one really seems to mind that they’re there. Unlike most graffiti — treated more as a crime than art — these little works aren’t as readily torn down or removed.
Space Invader has “attacked” some 25 cities including Paris, London, Tokyo even Dhaka, Bangladesh. Each invasion is an ongoing process, with the oldest (in Paris) eight years in the making. The artist has said that while he is not “at war” with the cities he invades, he considers his work an attack in the more abstract sense, infiltrating each locale, as idiosyncrasy rather than a nuisance.