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UNGALLERY

Urban invasion

Space Invaders, which dot city streets in Europe and Asia, have also landed in Los Angeles.

October 31, 2002|Shana Ting Lipton | Special to The Times

Space is the final frontier for some but just the beginning for one anonymous French artist. This stealth figure is the mastermind behind a renegade global street art project that has planted its tentacles everywhere from Amsterdam to Hong Kong, including Los Angeles.

Remember those monster icons from the '70s Space Invaders video games? This artist does, with fanatic reverence, creating an artwork-game variation -- also called Space Invaders -- that has invaded many public spaces, much to the chagrin of local authorities.

Invader, as he calls himself, makes tile square "replicas" of the arcade creatures and goes around the world affixing them to buildings, pillars, curbs, you name it. He's well known in Paris, where he started his work in the late '90s, hitting major monuments like the Louvre. In the City of Light, he boasts a massive 384 "invasions," scattered through the city. His L.A. score is a less impressive 41.

"The Hollywood sign was the hottest to me," he says. His Web site, www.space-invaders.com/som.html, features documentation of this infamous hit, chronicling how the tiles found their way into a restricted area. He also placed the tile creatures in more accessible public locations, such as a street invasion on La Cienega Boulevard just north of Olympic Boulevard. Another trip to L.A., for a second wave of hits, is in the works.

Somewhere along the way, what started as an iconographic solo project has turned into an offbeat sociological phenomenon. Other people have begun contributing to the project, adding tiles to existing hits.

"The idea of involving people is part of my future evolution, but until now I have worked alone," says the artist, who has seen interest in his Space Invaders mushroom. He sells invasion kits on his Web site, which include one handmade tile and instructions on how to invade. Though the product is offered under the premise of art collecting, it also seems to be a provocation to take action.

Los Angeles-based designer-musician Jennifer Quinn bought one of his tiles for $100 but has chosen to display hers on the outside wall of her home. Space Invaders has also inspired Quinn to tap into her own creativity. "I made one for my dad for his birthday," she says.

So, what is Space Invaders really about? Is it civilized graffiti? A personal way of marking one's territory? Or a public display of obsessive-compulsive disorder? If one could hover in a spaceship looking down on this awesome, mazelike city, perhaps the answer would be clear.

In Invader's words: "The purpose is the invasion. The game is the reality."

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Invader was here

Clues on where to look for

Space Invaders

The Hollywood sign: 6342 Mulholland Highway in Griffith Park. Some letters are "tagged."

Near Los Angeles County Museum of Art: 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; the cross street is Spaulding Avenue. Check out the curb.

Boulevard hits: Look for the La Cienega Boulevard invader between Olympic and Wilshire boulevards, on the street divider next to La Cienega Park.

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