Cameras click non-stop atop the Eiffel Tower, but the photogenic cityscape isn’t the only sight worth snapping. Sharp eyes might spot a little blue alien that was affixed to the monument last year – it’s just one of 1,437 pieces of Invader art that has camera-phone-toting fans scouting the city to add to their digital-art collections.
For more than two decades Invader, the anonymous Parisian street artist, has plastered walls and structures with his signature ceramic-tiled mosaics, which evoke the pixelated esthetic of Japanese arcade classic Space Invaders. In 2014, he launched a free FlashInvaders app – and a modern scavenger hunt began. The retro-style mosaics (3,861 and counting) have popped up in 79 cities worldwide, and fittingly, you can even find them in outer space on the International Space Station.
Each artwork is meticulously catalogued on the official website, space-invaders.com, but the exact addresses are kept secret. Sleuthing for locations has become something of a competitive sport among locals and travellers alike – each Invader you “flash” (that is, photograph with the app) earns anywhere from 10 to 100 points. The current top score: over 81,000, racked up by a player who has hunted down 2,700-plus Invaders.