A Tribute to Hans Ruedi Giger

Hans_GigerLast month, the Swiss surrealists Hans Ruedi Giger – a painter, sculptor, set designer, and the Academy Award winning visual effects master who brought the world the Alien – died at the age of 74 in Zürich, Switzerland. After suffering injuries he sustained in a fall, the man who mined his own nightmares in creating phantasmagorical works finally passed away on Monday, May 12th, and leaves behind a robust legacy of inspiring people’s imaginations and striking fear into their hearts.

Describing his friend, American psychologist and psychedelic writer Timothy Leary was quoted as having praised the artist by saying:

Giger’s work disturbs us, spooks us, because of its enormous evolutionary time span. It shows us, all too clearly, where we come from and where we are going.

And though he is well known within the artist community for his ability to turn nightmarish visions into works of art, some of which were oddly sexual, it is his contributions to the movie industry and science fiction franchise that are arguably the most well known. As the man who created the title character of the 1979 horror sci-fi classic Alien, he and the film’s visuel effects team won an Academy Award and spawned a genre that would have enduring influence.

SpaceJockeyIn addition to personally designing the Alien through all stages of its life – from egg to eight-foot tall monster – he was also responsible for the design of the Derelict (aka. the Space Jockey/Engineer spaceship) and the Space Jockey/Engineer itself. While some would describe these as “surrealist” or “Lovecraftian” in design, Giger preferred to call his art “biomechanics”, with its subjects often appearing to be hybrid creatures that had bodies that melded the organic with mechanical parts.

Nowhere was this more clear than with the design of the Alien itself. Combining elements of biology, technology, skewed sexuality and nightmarish visions into its design, it was this creation itself that the entire movie was built around. In fact, screenwriter Dan O’Bannon began crafting the script for the movie with neither a story idea nor a hero protagonist in mind. All he wanted was the sense of fear that came from more and more revealing glimpses of Giger’s creation.

Original alien concept, entitled Necronomicon IV
Original alien concept, entitled Necronomicon IV

And after seeing Giger’s first book, “Necronomicon” – a collection that was published in 1977 and named in honor of H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional grimoire of the same name –   Director Ridley Scott immediately decided to hire Giger, who began producing artwork and conceptual designs that were essentially refinements of the work found in his dark collection. As Mr. Scott would later say of this fateful decision: “I’d never been so certain about anything in all my life.”

The end result was a huge and harrowing success, with the setting of the Derelict ship providing a sense of awe and wonder, not to mention foreshadowing the sense of terror and darkness that would follow. And combined with O’Bannon’s vision and Scott’s cinematography, the brief glimpses we get of this ancient and dark looking creature only help to augment the sense of terror and claustrophobia that would come from being trapped aboard a spaceship with it.

HR Giger's concept for a Sandworm of Dune
HR Giger’s concept for a Sandworm of Dune

He would also collaborate on many other films of the horror and sci-fi genre. These include designs for the unproduced Alejandro Jodorowsky adaptation of Dune, which would later be made by David Lynch. Other examples include Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Killer Condom, Species, Future-Kill, and Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis. Unfortunately, for all concerned, one movie he collaborated on  would ultiamtely reject his design – the updated Batmobile for the Batman Forever movie (picture below).

Beyond his work on the Alien franchise – which included designs for Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection and Prometheus – Mr. Giger published around 20 books of art, and his works were exhibited in Paris, Prague and New York. He also created many album covers, including one for the singer Debbie Harry’s 1981 album, “Koo Koo”, Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album, “Brain Salad Surgery,” and a poster titled “Penis Landscape” for inclusion in an album by the punk band Dead Kennedys.

Batmobile concept
Giger’s Batmobile. Tell me it’s not better than the one we saw in Batman Forever!

And over at deviantART, artist techgnotic has arranged a tribute to the artist that embraces the many personal tributes that this art community have made toward the late Giger. Describing Giger’s enduring legacy, techgnotic says that:

Giger was a touchstone artist for those in the 70s & 80s who sought to shake up the establishment with a walk on the wild side. Today he is thought of by many artists as being one of the exemplars of letting the mind go free—to explore either the light or the darkness—and be fearless in sharing what was found there in one’s art. His art might be considered “safe” today, but he was a real inspiration to many of today’s artists.

And as he puts it in the prologue: “He was an artist you might not know. But you’ve met his children…” Be sure to go and check it out, as it does a very good job summarizing his life’s work and influence, and contains some pretty interesting and inspired tribute pieces! And while we’re at it, I suggest we set aside some time to rewatch Alien or one of the many other movies he collaborated on to create the dark, nightmarish sets or costumes that would help establish the tone of the film.

Brain_Salad_SurgeryAnd while were at it, perhaps we should take a page from Giger’s book and keep a nightmare journal. Not only did this man record all the dark visions he would experience in his sleep, he would use them to create artistic and cinematic gold! But if you’d rather leave that to the dark souls of this world and just enjoy letting them scare you, so much the better. RIP Giger, you will be missed!

Sources: nytimes.com, io9.com, techgnotic.deviantart.com

New Drones Art Campaign

UAVsOver at deviantART, a constant source of inspired art for me, there’s an interest new campaign designed to raise awareness and stimulate debate on a rather controversial issue. I am referring, as the topic line would suggest, to the use of drones and UAV’s and all that it entails.

As one of the greatest concerns facing developed nations today, not to mention the developing world where they are being increasingly used, this campaign is not only timely and relevant, but an intriguing display of artwork motivated by social conscience. In short, it asks the question: how is this debate reflected in art and what will future generations think of it?

looking for a hole, by arcas art
looking for a hole, by arcas art

Inspired by similar projects which are taking place around the world, the purpose of the campaign is to draw attention to the fact that were are living in a world increasingly characterized by surveillance and killing machines. Or as technognotic puts it:

Drones have become the white hot center of debate for a multitude of deeply consequential concerns for the entire Earth Sphere. No matter the digital end point or theatre of conversation, whether it be politics, war, privacy, pop culture, or the rise of machines – Drones or UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) are the current catalyst du jour in any number of flashpoint discussions…

Even more interesting is the tone of inevitability of outcome. Core discussion seems to focus on a coming drone-filled sky and how we might govern our selves accordingly as this fact becomes a reality… Is this the dark side of human creativity and inquisitiveness that will ultimately one day spell our doom or the first signs of a coming technological Utopia.

galaxy saga - white gryphon, by ukitakumuki
galaxy saga – white gryphon, by ukitakumuki

In addition, the campaign features the thoughtful essay of the same name by Jason Boog (deviantART handle istickboy), who takes a look at how killing machines and drones have been explored through art and popular culture. Beginning with a short romp through history, identifying the first “drone” to ever be used, he goes on to examine how several generations of artists chose to portray them and their use.

Things culminate in the modern age, where spending on drone development and humanitarian concerns have culminated to make this a truly global and auspicious concern. With remote-controlled drones giving way to autonomous models and UAV’s being used for domestic surveillance, there’s no telling where things could go.

mysterious journals, by sundragon83
mysterious journals, by sundragon83

On the one hand, a concerned and mobilized public could place limits and controls on them, or counter using their own form of “sousveillance” (public counter-surveillance). On the other hand, we could be headed for a police state here privacy is non-existent and robots decide who lives and who dies – maybe entirely on their own!

As you can certainly imagine, when I first learned of this campaign I could tell that it was right up my alley. Being such an obsessive geek for all things technological and how innovation and progress affect us, I knew I had to post about it. And as you can certainly tell from the samples posted here, the artwork is pretty damn badass!

I would recommend checking it out for the aesthetic appeal alone. Knowing you’re taking part in a campaign dedicated to public awareness is just a big bonus!

For more information, and to take a gander at some galleries, visit the campaign at techgnotic.deviantart.com.

Game of Thrones Manga?

It’s a valid question, isn’t it? What if the seminal novels of George RR Martin were adapted into a manga-style graphic novel? That’s the idea behind this concept artwork by deviantArtist joscomie, who packed 49 characters from the series into a single, massive scroll.

As you can see, the infographic is plainly labelled, features characters that are up-to-date (as of the release of A Dance with Dragons), and even features such characters as Aerys, the Others, the Direwolves and the Dragons. Pretty cool huh?

For a look at the original print and more examples of joscomie’s art, follow the infographic to the bottom and click on the link provided:

Source: joscomie.deviantArt

New Look!

Hey all and good morning. Do you like what I’ve done with the place? Yes, after months of wanting to spruce up my blog’s appearance, I finally got around to some house cleaning, tidied things up a bit, and finally put my awards up where you could see them. Good thing too, I was getting worried people would come by and think that the only one who appreciated all my rambles was me. That seem right to you?

Also, I’m thinking of a new theme. Months back, I picked the one you see, Chapters, from a lineup because I thought it was conducive to displaying samples of my writing. However, given the fact that you can only pick from the last 20 posts, I find it a bit frustrating now. As anyone who knows me is undoubtedly aware, I go through a lot of posts on this site, and I mean A LOT! For that reason, I insist on being able to scroll back a ways, and I’d like my viewers to be able to do the same.

Anybody know about a theme that is good for that, not to mention putting up images of a sci-fi nature? I’ve been dying to use some images, like the one featured at the top here – “Aurora Rising”, a Blade Runner inspired image by fmacmanus at deviantART. Lovely isn’t it? Click on it to get a full-screen view. Trust me, it’s awesome!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some more chapters to write and some article to pen. Big news in the world of exploration, sci-fi and other such things. Williams away!

Cover Art for Worlds Undone… done!

Big news from Grim5next, the writer’s group that I joined a few months back. After months of discussions, suggestions, and back and forth from all members concerned, we’ve come up with a title for our first anthology. And after much collaboration with artists and design platforms, I’ve finally finished work on our covers! Here’s what our first anthology, a collection of dystopian literature and art, will look like:

Here is what the paperback cover will look like, with artwork provided by Ashley Evans. Check out her artwork on deviantArt: cazzyae at deviantart

And here’s what the ebook cover will look like. Like all ebook icon, it’s been scaled down to a single page format. Less bells and whistles, but it gets the job done!

Stay tuned for the release of the book, which should be in a few months time. We need time to gather all the talent and condense all of it into the proper, singular format. And, case your interested, some material will be provided by yours truly, a short story titled “Hunluan”. Incidentally, it is related to “Crashlands”, the serial novel taking shape over at Story Time.

Oh, incidentally, this is my 200th post on this site. Another milestone! Weeeeeee!