Urban Spacemen

March 19, 2011

Today’s post was going to be about knitting (a little) and medieval stuff (a lot). But I changed my mind when, strolling through Vienna’s city centre this morning, I chanced upon this:

Your eyes do not deceive you: These are mosaic tiles showing them nasty alien creatures from Pac-Man. They’re the work of the anonymous French street artist known as Invader who has left similar depictions of characters from Pac-Man and Space Invaders in cities all over the world. When he invaded Vienna in 2006, he left 52 of his whimsical works in places all over the city. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen them all, but I do come across one of them every now then, usually in rather unexpected places. More often than not, however, I do what most people do, i.e. I simply walk past without really taking notice of those little pieces of art.

But lately I’ve been paying more attention to decorative tiling in urban environments. This is, perhaps, mostly due to Philip Wilkinson and his English Buildings blog where he recently published a couple of posts dealing with some amazing tiled shop fronts from the 1920s and the 1930s. (And incidentally, as you may remember, I’ve blogged about something similar myself not so long ago.) As Philip and some of his commenters have rightly observed, it’s a shame that this kind of decoration just isn’t done any more…

So I guess we’re lucky to have artists like Invader: While his tiled aliens may not be as stunningly beautiful as some of those decorative tiles from long time ago, they nonetheless enliven our sometimes bleak urban landscapes and add welcome dabs of colours in unexpected places.

9 Responses to “Urban Spacemen”

  1. That’s a great little mosaic – it’s the kind of thing that would bring a smile to my day. Thanks for the link to Philip Wilkinson – what a great blog! Not knowing much about architecture myself, it’s nice to have some of the background story to the brilliant things that I spot around London.

    • [c] said

      Thanks! Seeing that mosaic on the street certainly brought a smile to my day – I know that a photo isn’t the same as the real thing, but I still hope that seeing it on our blog has a similar effect :-)

  2. That’s a strange little coincidence. When I was in Vienna in 2006 one of the things I photographed was this:

    I don’t think there can be any link, can there? Just an archetype of sorts…

  3. Sorry, I tried to insert the image direct, and WordPress has carefully erased it. Here’s the link.

    • [c] said

      Oh yes, there’s quite a lot of those all over the city – they come with a whole array of messages, e.g. Space Invaders against sexism, against fascism, against antisemitism, against homophobia etc. etc. (You can view them all here)
      I don’t think they’re connected to Invader’s street art, though. They’re more of a political thing based on the conviction that Austria’s government policies rather reinforce than fight all the “isms” listed above and that the “silent majority” actually supports this attitude and that ergo it would need a force from outer space to bring about change. At least that’s the explanation the makers of those posters/stickers give on their homepage, and while their assessment of the situation may seem a bit pessimistic, I’m afraid they may be right…

      • Wow, I hadn’t realised I’d seen a tiny part of something larger, I thought it was just a nice piece of activism. But that’s a movement! Even if perhaps only a small one. Well, I like their style of outreach and admire their idealism at least. Thanks for the link.

  4. ramaryllis said

    aah, now I have that song stuck in my head (“I’m the urban spaceman, baby, I can fly; I’m a super sonic guy …”) ;-)

    • [c] said

      Oh, sorry about that – if it’s any solace, I’ve had that song stuck in my head ever since I wrote that post, too. I guess I should have paid more attention to the potential side effects when I chose that title for the post ;-)

      • ramaryllis said

        well, meanwhile it’s gone (just to reassure you ;-)).
        But I like 60s pop/rock, so in that respect, it was noch such a big problem.

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