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H R GigerReview - H R Giger
by H.R. Giger
Taschen, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Oct 22nd 2004 (Volume 8, Issue 43)

It is no exaggeration to say that the art of HR Giger has been one of the most powerful forces in science fiction iconography, and through the de-eroticized form of the Alien movies, has had a major effect on the popular imagination.  His themes concern the mechanization of the human body and the interaction between humans and alien forms.  His work is rooted in surrealism and pornography, but what makes it so memorable is his integration of the human with the non-human.  In the 1970s, Giger had a fascination with the industrial production of babies, but his images are much more disturbing than the nurseries of Brave New World.  These babies have old faces and are half-human and half-fighting-machine.  Their ugly faces are covered in warts, and where their arms should be they have machine guns.  These are baby cyborgs designed for military purposes.  Giger's preoccupation with machine-like sexual acts is also traceable back to the 1970s.  In a striking picture of the "Passage Temple" entrance from 1975, Giger himself stands in the entrance, dressed in a black robe, wearing sandals, arms folded.  Surrounding him are his images of body parts and machines intertwined, with penises fitting into vaginal and other holes, alien heads and women's thighs and buttocks all linked together into one machine.  His art became more standardly pornographic in subsequent decades in his images of group sex between human women and alien creatures or robots, because these images simply reproduce a familiar representation of sadomasochism and a powerless penetrated female. Giger's images of powerful alien mothers and decaying male bodies are more challenging

This collection of Giger's art is a strong introduction to his work.  As with other books in Taschen's Icons series, the book is a paperback the size of a novel, and the reproductions are very much smaller than the originals, so some detail and emotional power is lost.  But the quality of printing is good, and the well-constructed book is a pleasure to handle.  It contains a short introduction by Stanislav Grof and a few other brief pieces of text, but the book is largely devoted to images.  The work includes an impressive range of sketches, drawings, paintings, and sculptures.  While the selection only gives a small portion of Giger's overall output, it does convey how consistent his work is.  As the fantasy of the integration of humans and machines becomes ever closer to reality, Giger's art is one of the most important influences on the visual vocabulary we have for picturing our future. 

 

Link: www.taschen.com

 

© 2004 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

 


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