Invaders!

This is a simulation of an installation originally developed just after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. In the original piece, the image of Space Invaders was projected onto the walls of the Marseille World Trade Center, and rendered playable through a system of flashlights offered to passers-by.

Subsequent installations have returned to a more symbolic narrative connecting the game and the historical event. Here, for example, is a release from the 2008 installation for the Games Convention in Leipzig:

The World Trade Center attacks mark a deep cut in our recent history that is still being processed. The French-American artist Douglas Edric Stanley has found an unusual — though obvious — metaphor with his work “Invaders!”, which is based on the 1978 arcade original. In his interactive large installation, the players must prevent the catastrophe by controlling the well- known cannon at the lower screen border with their bodies and firing it using arm movements. Like the original, this trial is ultimately unsuccessful, thus creating an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy. In this regard, Douglas Edric Stanley sees Space Invaders as “a social tale that can be related to historical tales without losing its poetic power”.
– Andreas Lange, Computerspiele Museum

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

_Last update 01/09/2008 (see below). See also my attempt at context._

Update (24/08) : If you haven't heard, this piece has stirred quite a controvery. I'm keeping the comments open for people to opine in their own manner and leisure. If you are interested, there is also significant debate here and at many other sites commenting on the affair. I obviously have a lot of things to say, and while I'm tempted to try and correct some of the most exaggerated misconceptions, as many commentators have mentioned the damage has already been done, the responsibility is ultimately mine, and it is therefore up to others now to make up their own minds.

Next week, my old piece from September 2001 will yet again be recycled, only this time in a very large scale edition, with some significant updates, all in celebration of 30 years of Invaders falling from the skies. Invaders! will this time be a multiplayer affair, with improved tracking (optical flow, yada yada yada...), a high (and low) scores leader board, and a stronger tie-in to the historical narrative that originally inspired me to make this version in the first place.

For an idea of how the physical interaction works, check out this video from the Laboral Gameworld exhibition in 2007.

This is all taking place at the huge Games Convention taking place every year in Leipzig. This year [Andreas Lange][8] of the Computer Spiele Museum was nice enough to include me in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Space Invaders with my somewhat ambiguous juxtaposition of this mythical game and the historical events of September 11th. He has also included a selection of various artefacts of the "official" Space Invaders game which will accompagny my large-scale full-body form of engagement.

Here is the press release (read : not written by me), which for once gets it pretty much right :

Space Invaders is one of the biggest video game legends. When the game landed in arcades world-wide in 1978, it initiated a previously unknown boom. Shortly after the appearance of the blockbuster pictures “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the "Third Kind”, thanks to Space Invaders, millions of mostly young players could step in to save the world from the alien invaders with their joystick in hand.

Space Invaders became a legend and a global icon. It is a frequently quoted art motif and remains omnipresent in our daily life. It is still as fresh as ever. The exhibition “Space Invaders: Die Jubiläumsshow!” (Space Invaders: the Anniversary Show) would like to pay homage to this evergreen and create an experience from its historical and current facets.

In addition to a comprehensive documentation, an original Space Invaders machine naturally forms the centre of attraction. Everything is overshadowed by the interactive large installation “Invaders!” by the French-American artist Douglas Edric Stanley.

The World Trade Center attacks mark a deep cut in our recent history that is still being processed. The French-American artist Douglas Edric Stanley has found an unusual – though obvious – metaphor with his work “Invaders!”, which is based on the 1978 arcade original. In his interactive large installation, the players must prevent the catastrophe by controlling the well- known cannon at the lower screen border with their bodies and firing it using arm movements. Like the original, this trial is ultimately unsuccessful, thus creating an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy. In this regard, Douglas Edric Stanley sees Space Invaders as “a social tale that can be related to historical tales without losing its poetic power” (D.E. Stanley).

Invaders!