Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Closer Look at Giger’s Horrorscapes

I'm proud to present a special guest post by Georgia Parks.

H. R Giger is a name you may not be familiar with. His work you will know well. Giger is most famous for his work on all three of the Alien movies, and designed the alien itself, as well as its habitat. He won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Special Effects in 1980 for his work on Alien, and went on to work on other sci-fi and horror movies, including Dune, Eraserhead and Poltergeist II amongst others. His most influential work, and the one that inspired Ridley Scott to employ him on Alien, was the book of his paintings called Necronomicon (1977).


Giger is now recognised as one of the world’s leading artists in the genre of Fantastic Realism, and has worked with bands and film makers from all over the world. So where did it begin? Hans Rudolf Giger was born in 1940, and was encouraged to follow his father and train as a chemist. He rejected this idea, and instead moved to Zurich in 1962, where he joined the School of Applied Arts and studied Architecture and Industrial Design, where he had his first exhibition and published his first book. His early work was in pen and ink, but it was only when he discovered the airbrush technique that his distinctive style really developed.

Biomechanical Art

Described as ‘Biomechanical’, it is typified by human and machine in ‘cold, interconnected relationships’, surreal dreamscapes, and fetish imagery. He was heavily influenced by Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dali, whom he met, and was good friends with drug-addled space cadet, Timothy Leary. These alternative, experimental characters no doubt fed his own creativity. His work is also heavily influenced by his own dreams, like many of the surrealists. Giger, however, suffers from a sleep disorder, which brings on ‘night terrors’ – vivid, frightening dreams, which wake the sufferer screaming in terror, and can lead to violent, unpredictable actions. It is the visions he sees during these dreams that most heavily influence his work. The biomechanical memes, of human limbs and joins replaced by pistons, cogs and gears.

Biomech tattoo –courtesy of Robtix, by midnightINK, via

Biomech tattoo –courtesy of biomechanicalME, via

Biomechanical Tattoos

One of the areas most heavily influenced by Giger’s work is the tattoo industry. Artists began copying ideas from the Alien film and taking inspiration from the Necronomicon series of books. Now ‘biomech’ tattoos are a genre in their own right, with artists like Guy Aitchison taking the form further and developing their own style. Now, designs have developed from simple copies of Giger’s work into something more direct and personal. Skilled biomech tattoo artists are creating designs which show the skin peeled back, revealing mechanical components to the clients own body. The illusion is created that the tattooee is partly machine himself, taking Giger’s ideas another step further in the process.

Giger Bars

These are now only two in number, since the closing of the New York and Tokyo branches. Inspired by his distinctive style and designs, they are furnished with typical Gigian nightmarish extravagance. The furniture is to his design, as well as the lighting, fittings, flooring and décor. To enter a Giger bar is to enter Giger’s imagination. Here you can feel at ease with other fans who flock to the place in honour of the artist. A mecca for Goths and those on the alternative scene, the Giger bars are to be found in his native Switzerland. One is in Chur, the other is in the official H.R Giger museum, housed in the Château St. Germain, in medieval Gruyères, described thus on the museum website - “The giant skeletal arches covering the vaulted ceiling, together with the bar’s fantastic stony furniture, evoke the building’s original medieval character and give the bar a cathedral-like feeling.

The Museum

The museum in Château St. Germain houses Giger’s extensive collection of artworks, from painters such as Fuchs and Dali, Günther Brus, Bruno Weber, Claude Sandoz, François Burland, Friedrich Kuhn amongst others. It also has the largest collection of Giger’s designs, furniture and film set work dating right back to the 1960’s. He is planning on building a railway through the site, when funds permit, in biomechanical style.


Georgia Parks is a freelance writer and researcher from London with a fascination for H.R. Giger and  his works. She has over five years experience freelancing and her job has opened up a huge range of opportunities for her including an elongated stay on the Fred Olsen Boudicca, cataloguing her experiences and the chance to work with many worthy charity projects.

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