Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Giger Counter

As an alienated youth growing up in suburban America, I heard the name HR Giger pop up here and there at various points. The name is deeply embedded in that culture of sci-fi/horror films, comic books, sexual confusion, and heavy metal music. Giger existed in that space where kids always dared to go, but adults were far too afraid to.  As a result, like the Heavy Metal magazines he used to contribute to, I never had the urge (or the expendable allowance money) to purchase one of his books and hide it from my parents (reactions to Dead Kennedys records and The Satanic Bible had not been favorable).  By the time I was old enough to purchase whatever I pleased, I guess I had forgotten about him or moved into different circles of interest.

Co-opted a million times without credit, Giger's style- embossed surfaces, machinal veins, metallic grays, cold and dead terrain, beautifully hideous mutation, grotesque reptilian eroticism, perverted innocence vs. corruption as infantilization- became pantheon, backdrop.  Almost so much so that his influence was underplayed in the world of the grim.  It's sad that only in death could I, and probably too many other, comprehend this.

Of course, he's probably best known for his Necronomicon paintings, which provided the blueprint for the atmospheric production design behind the "biomechanical" world of the Alien films.

The hyperactive amount of detail and the strong emphasis on foreground was/is a hallmark of fantasy novels and prog album covers, but unlike the worst of those, no one could accuse him of skimping on perspective.

Bit of Bacon in this one.

Brain Salad Surgery is probably better known for its sleeve than the music within, which is to everyone's benefit.  In fact, it might be the best album cover to a terrible album ever.

Far better, though far more NSFW, is his first album cover to the Shiver's Walpurgis:

did some other covers too:

Giger also designed some conceptual art for Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham's troublesome video for "Windowlicker"

He also took part in the occasional conceptual sculpture. This one, I think perfectly summarizes gun culture (which is fetishized in the milieu he served, but I've never seen it represented anywhere else in his art):

The one and only time I went to Limelight in NYC, I was struck by the Giger Room, which I believe was the industrial dance room and a uniquely novel space.  It was odd that they allowed people to dance and get stupid in a room with so much touchable installation art, particularly as the club was known to, ahem, distribute supplements to the nightclubbing experience vis a vis the friendly staff.  The only pictures floating around on the internet don't seem to do it justice:

Far more impressive are the Giger Bars overseas where you can relax by sitting on a tongue in the midst of a spine:

No doubt inspired in some part by the old Cafe L'Enfer from turn of the century France:

His work was so physical that it's not surprising that it leapt of the page in the form of actual artifacts, pushing the unconscious ever closer to the surface so that we weren't caught so off-guard when confronted with it.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.