5 Year Print Market Review 2023

Aladdin
Sane

Invader’s 4-part print series, Aladdin Sane, features the artist’s classic retro alien, with a twist. His ceramic mosaics recall retro 8-bit arcade games. Meanwhile, his variation on his classic alien motif— sporting David Bowies’ lightning makeup—references editioning in the gaming world, where players might pay or play to unlock new avatars.

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Meaning & Analysis

A playful 4-part print series by Invader, Aladdin Sane combines the artist’s classic retro motif with a kitsch David-Bowie twist.

Having risen to fame in the 1990s, Invader occupies the podium in the Street Art scenery, to the point that Banksy included him in his documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop in 2010. Invader’s best-known pieces are admittedly the coloured tile mosaics ‘Space Invaders’, which are part of a large-scale worldwide project instantly recognisable across the globe. In the project, begun in 1998, Invader quite literally brings to life and into the real world the famous characters of the Taito Japanese video game, who now are part of collective imagery and nostalgically bring the viewer back to the beginnings of digital design and the distinctive space of the arcade. Through his mosaics, which work to physically recreate the digital process of pixelation and virtualisation of the image then glued to the city walls, Invader invades neuralgic points of densely-populated cities. In doing so, he not only stages a fun treasure-hunt for the viewer but also sheds light on the new forms of visibility and modes of visualising images that have emerged in response to the digital era.

Invader’s is thus a theorisation of the pixelation and virtualisation of the image as the defining contemporary way of experiencing images. Simultaneously, his works embed a critique of the alienation caused by different media, and the disembodiment of reality in favour of the virtual. To respond to this situation, Invader stages a game for the viewer, who, in attempting to uncover all the Space Invaders hidden in different cities across the globe, becomes more aware of the surrounding urban environment now marked by the artist.

10 Facts About Invader's Aladdin Sane

Aladdin Sane (gold) by Invader

Aladdin Sane (gold) © Invader 2014

1. The series pays homage to David Bowie.

When you think of the name David Bowie, chances are his iconic lightning strike makeup will come to mind. In this series, Invader appropriates perhaps the most infamous image of Bowie, and therefore testifies to his enduring influence on music and art.

Cover art for David Bowie's 1973 album “Aladdin Sane”.

Aladdin Sane (album cover) CC BY-NC 2.0 © David Bowie 1973

2. The series is based on Bowie's 1973 Aladdin Sane album.

In this series, Invader appropriates Bowie's seminal album cover for Aladdin Sane (1973). Captured by Brian Duffy, Bowie's lightning-struck portrait became an integral part of his public persona. It therefore seems only fitting that Invader should represent Bowie in this memorable get-up.

Aladdin Sane (blue) by Invader

Aladdin Sane (blue) © Invader 2014

3. The series pronounces a shared passion for space between Bowie and Invader.

Invader's typical characters, inspired by the iconic Taito video game, reveal the street artist's fascination with space and extraterrestrials. Perhaps Invader decided to represent Bowie because of their shared affinity for life outside of planet Earth. In 2013, Invader managed to send one of his archetypal characters into space with his Art4Space project. As Bowie coincidentally sang in Moonage Daydream, "I'm a space invader".

Rubik Kubik, The Shining by Invader

Rubik Kubik, The Shining © Invader 2006