Remembering H.R. Giger and His Disturbing Visions
H.R. Giger, the visionary who designed the sets and eponymous monster from the classic film Alien, died yesterday at the age of 74. He made Hollywood bend to accommodate, if not necessarily accept his unique style vision. Giger took an ontological approach to the fantastical — using the surreal, or the unreal to dig at at a greater, ineffable truth. Like David Cronenberg, Giger viewed the human body as a canvas, and his mutilations are at once disturbing and profound. The inherently violent nature of birth is captured with discomforting immediacy in The Birth Machine, a sculpture that channels Lovecraft in its lurid aesthetics as well as its deeper, deliberate ponderings, and his collection Necronomicron is suffused with a painful, barbaeric lust.
Giger sustained a brooding and enigmatic atmosphere about his public persona that only heightened the awe of his work. Working only at night and tapping into the (apparently horrific) images swirling in his dreams, the Swiss artist conjured visions of humans and machines synthesized into hellish hybrids — flesh fused with metal, nightmares rendered visceral, artifice made frighteningly real.
He first started painting for art therapy before enrolling at the School of Applied Sciences in Zurich. In 1973, his cover art for Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s album Brain Salad Surgery (a far less abrasive album that its title insinuates), brought him greater recognition, and he soon became a consultant and designer for films.