YVES CAIZERGUES: GREEN INVADERS Sun Life Financial Tower, 150 King West (view from south sidewalk between York and University). See listing.
Lo-fi technology has a way of coming back to haunt us. Some 25 years after the inception of the internet, we now whiz about with handheld television and communication studios in our pockets, casually viewing video content and playing games whose immersive complexity could scarcely be imagined five years ago.
Along with feathered hair, lip gloss and roller disco, the primitive pixelated creatures of the 80s arcade screen are powerful engines of nostalgia. Who doesn't long for the simpler, happier time of Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Asteroid, Galaxian and Dig Dug?
Yves Caizergues, a lighting designer and gaming enthusiast from Lyon, France, has recreated those most iconic of menacing aliens, the Space Invaders. Designed by Toshihiro Nishikado and released in 1978, the little green aliens, marching rank and file in descending formation, were the face of a tipping point in our technological history.
Originally called Eco Invaders when they were presented at Lyon's Fête des Lumières and recently at the Singapore Art Museum's Night Lights festival, Caizergues's fluorescent-green aliens evoke a number of associations for people who've lived through the last 25 years of digital acceleration. Not only does the piece raise questions about the pace of technological progress, but it also recalls a time when energy efficiency and ecological concerns weren't foremost in our minds.
Still, says Caizergues in his artist's statement, "The installation addresses our relationship to the energy economy, since [it's] very low energy. Even if we were to use all of our energy resources in the next few years, I'd still be able to present Green Invaders for little or no energy."
Using software and lighting design, the artist creates the sensation that these tiny creatures of the early digital world have literally invaded ours. Set up on a series of wires that disappear with the setting sun, he has them raked back to simulate their famous marching formation. They seem, for all intents and purposes, to be marching in three dimensions through space.
Our memories are intimately tied to certain eras of design. The crablike creatures, on the cusp between 1960s minimalist design and the new pixelated style of Japanese gaming, elicit some of the strong emotions associated with the onset of the digital age.
Anyone who remembers losing hours battling the green invaders with a tiny cannon in their tween years is sure to be reminded of the tremendous shifts we've undergone since then, and Caizergues knows it.
"As for the emotional impact, it's mostly about getting hardcore geeks from the 80s to feel nostalgic...."