Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label H. R. Giger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label H. R. Giger. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Americans, Aliens and Area 51

A lamp post in Roswell, New Mexico, USA. Image Source: Houstonia.

The American election campaign has reached the 'aliens are real' stage. Given WikiLeaks' latest (and possibly Russian-sourced) UFO leaks (herehere, here and here) relating to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, today we head to Area 51 for all things X-Files, Roswell, aliens, and flying saucers. According to WikiLeaks, US government staffers relayed the following information to John Podesta in an e-mail from December 2008:
"Add this to John Podesta's pile: A 'million fax on Washington' directed by the head of the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PPAC) to demand that Obama 'demand a full briefing from your military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know and what they are doing about extraterrestrial related phenomena' and 'formally acknowledge the extraterrestrial presence and finally end the truth embargo after 61 years.'

X-PPAC's executive director, Stephen Bassett, writes in his own open letter that he believes that the transition chief is a secret ally in this:

If you are in need of counsel to assist you in these matters, you have but to turn to your transition co-chair, John Podesta. His efforts to end the truth embargo and release all relevant government documents date back to at least 1993 and the Rockefeller Initiative. PRG believes he is fully aware of the extraterrestrial presence and is committed to creating more open, transparent governance. In this he is in sync with the chief financial backer of his Center for American Progress think tank, George Soros.

This is not a new theory. The response to Clinton Library Freedom of Information Law requests was delayed because the UFO people got there first, FOIAing, among other things, 'All files on UFOs, Roswell New Mexico, flying saucers, Area 51 or the TV show X-Files in the files of John Podesta'

X-PPAC reportedly is further heartened, this time around, by the likely presence of Bill Richardson in the new administration; during one debate, he called on the federal government to 'come clean' on Roswell, though he later said he hadn't meant to suggest he's a believer."
Russia Today claims the leaks prove that the American government knows that aliens exist, and the aliens want to help us with "zero point energy," or "free energy," which would change the whole history and development of the world. The fact that 'energy' is the aliens' main concern should be a telltale sign in all this Russian mischief. According to the leaks, the aliens are unwilling to share their technology unless 'we' overcome our violent, war-mongering tendencies. The leaks also 'prove' the Vatican's awareness of extraterrestrials. You can see these bizarre revelations summarized here. See more reports here, here, here, here, here and here. Critics argue that these leaks and Russian propagandistic interference in American affairs herald a new era of "false stories" and "weaponized information."

This image was attached to a 26 October 2015 e-mail purportedly from Tom DeLonge to Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta; it was leaked by WikiLeaks on 10 October 2016. It and other attached images relate to a Hollywood-sourced novels, films and 'non-fiction' works to be released about the existence of aliens. Image Source: WikiLeaks via CBS.

Image Source: PBS.

From the Prelinger Archives: "Color footage of atomic bomb tests with active duty military personnel at Camp Desert Rock, Nevada Test Site, Nevada. Shows soldiers in foxholes as nuclear detonation occurs nearby; light and shockwaves; blowing dust; soldiers climbing out of foxholes and running towards mushroom cloud." Video Source: Youtube. This film is in the public domain.

The Russians are cleverly exploiting a famous corner of American mythology to demoralize and confuse the Americans, turn them against their own system, and disrupt the USA's democratic process. Russian tactics are working because the adolescent republic reflexively reverts to revolutionary mode when considering any undue government influence - and because ancient superstitions married high technology in Nevada's now-toxic desert. Talk of flying saucers and aliens has long circled Area 51, a restricted facility, where the US Air Force tests experimental aircraft and weapons. According to Wiki, rumoured events in Area 51 include:
  • "The storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft (including material supposedly recovered at Roswell), the study of their occupants (living and dead), and the manufacture of aircraft based on alien technology."
  • "Meetings or joint undertakings with extraterrestrials."
  • "The development of exotic energy weapons for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or other weapons programs."
  • "The development of means of weather control."
  • "The development of time travel and teleportation technology."
  • "The development of unusual and exotic propulsion systems related to the Aurora Program."
  • "Activities related to a supposed shadowy one world government or the Majestic 12 organization."
My 2012 post, Mutants, After the Apocalypse, contended that atomic bomb tests, nuclear accidents, and radioactive leaks on domestic soil constituted the fallout equivalent of a North American nuclear war. In other words, the nuclear apocalypse had already occurred but was not openly acknowledged. The subliminal fear of cancer and mutations became internalized through cultural metaphors, many of which were spiritual, religious or magical. Abduction narratives and alien conspiracy theories involve the internalization, impregnation, or hybridization of humans by insidious, non-human elements. A subplot in these stories includes world domination or military worries. These ideas symbolize the fear that deadly poisons have been absorbed inside physical human systems, with health and land compromised in the name of science, technology, defense and progress.

While aliens are mathematically likely to exist, the Fermi Paradox asks why they have not unquestionably arrived on earth. Believers say they have, but their logic bears all the remnant trademarks of the medieval religious and occult imagination. Where once Catholic Europe, threatened by bubonic plague, feared demonic possession, and the ghosts and vampires arising from a pandemic period of mass death - now technological Millennial America, unnerved by the radioactive source of her own superpower, fears alien invasion.

On 10 October 2016, the European Space Agency sent 3,775 messages toward the Pole Star Polaris, in a numerologically-laden 11-11-11 statement. Irish-born artist Paul Quast entitled the project, A Simple Response to an Elemental Message, in which the interstellar conversation with aliens was supposed to start around the question: "How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?" The messages will take 400 years to arrive. Image Source: Daily Galaxy.

When one considers unacknowledged fallout in the already-nuked homeland, American citizens become the real victims, alien to themselves, shambling around a ruined and polluted environment. Nor are they alone. By 2012, over 2,000 nuclear tests had been conducted around the world. For a map of where those tests occurred (assume far-reaching, global fallout), go here. Among the five top nations to conduct tests, only the British and French did not use their homeland territories. The British tested their bombs in Nevada, Australia, on islands in the Pacific, and in the atmosphere. The French conducted their tests in Algeria, the Pacific, and in the atmosphere.

Paul Hellyer statement on a covert alien invasion, supposedly kept secret by top governments as part of the New World Order conspiracy (May 2013). Video Source: Youtube.

Before the October 2016 WikiLeaks revelations, the most high profile official to claim that aliens and related military conspiracies are real was the Canadian ex-Minister of Defence, Paul Hellyer. Hellyer remains hazy about whether he actually read secret governmental reports about UFOs while in office. His cited information comes from UFO writers, enthusiasts, and convention attendees. He implies that the Canadian government received reports of UFOs. But Canadian governmental neglect of those reports does not constitute a cover-up or proof of UFOs. Due to his former cabinet rank, Hellyer looks like a government UFO whistle-blower, even if he is not one.

Of course, as WikiLeaks shows, whistle-blowing carries a lot of momentum and perceived ethical weight in Millennial social media. Telling a suppressed secret in the name of a higher truth to protect the beleaguered public is a now-classic Millennial meme, which transforms the whistle-blower into a nearly-irreproachable, self-sacrificing holy man. It must be tempting to play the role of gnostic truth-teller, to become a prophet unveiling real reality in the nascent Age of Information. Only recently have netizens and hacktivists begun to ask about their sources' motivations.

Hellyer gains social media traction by mashing up two Millennial memes: aliens and whistle-blowing. Playing the whistle-blower gives Hellyer a carte blanche to say nearly anything and to occupy a projected space of moral rectitude in the UFO subculture. As a result, Hellyer is now a darling of these circles. He is spending his retirement touring alien conferences and conspiracy theorist conventions. He wants governments to give a "full disclosure" on UFOs to their citizens. He apparently believes the entire Millennial alien mythology: aliens in the ancient world, Atlantis, the Illuminati, the Bilderbergers, the shadow government, the anti-banking movement, the New World Order plot, and human genetic manipulation orchestrated by alien interlopers.

Yet Hellyer's most poignant desire in resolving these perceived threats reveals a man struggling with a deeper problem. He says: "In a word, we have to become spiritual beings." As with the Russian-inspired aliens who are focused on energy, this is the giveaway. Although Hellyer would deny it in his quest for the truth, perhaps the problem he faces is one of alienation, not aliens, in society. The spiritual path typically begins by smashing the truth one takes for granted.

For Hellyer, that truth is obviously the integrity of western governments. His deeper spiritual concern chimes with a story of Area 51 which asks how love, community, and soul-based morality contend with fear of a contaminated landscape, rapid technological change, and death-dealing power. Hellyer's Nevada odyssey hints that in the era of mass communications, social media, and big data, the central challenge to the individual is how one decides to know information, and how one connects that 'way of knowing' to moral and political value systems. His interests also echo the New Age end of the aliens-are-here spectrum, where belief in aliens is associated with spiritual enlightenment and higher awakening.

Below, see an urbex video from urban explorer Dan Bell for a real, recent view of the region; and from across the Web, see some of the best alien Hallowe'en costumes. These days, most Millennial UFO reports hail from Central and South America rather than Nevada, although this US state still guards many mysteries: the most recent known nuclear test in Nevada was a 2012 underground plutonium bomb, Pollux.

From the 1950s to the present, 928 atomic bomb tests were conducted in the Yucca flats and surrounding areas at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Mushroom clouds could be seen from Las Vegas's downtown hotels and became tourist attractions. This is the 1 November 1951 'Dog' test from Operation Buster-Jangle, the first to include live troops manoeuvring on Frenchman Flat while the bomb went off. Image Source: Wiki.

Dan Bell's urbex video of an abandoned complex, 30 minutes from the alien gas station and celebrity-connected Heidi-Fleiss-owned brothel at Amargosa, Nevada, adjacent to the infamous Area 51 and equally infamous Yucca Mountain (17 August 2016). Bell mentions gold and silver mining, but regions to the north, south and southwest also featured uranium mines. Video Source: Youtube.

Brothel adjacent Area 51 at Amargosa, Nevada (Yucca Mountain Travel Center): "This is a legal brothel, or 'Cathouse' (whorehouse?) at the intersection of the Veterans Memorial Highway (US 95) and State Highway 393 in Amargosa, Nevada. Dennis Hof (owner of a successful brothel in Carson City) and Heidi Fleiss (the former Hollywood Madame who was arrested in the '90s for running a high-price prostitution ring) own and operate the place, respectively." (31 July 2012) Video Source: Youtube.

Image Source: Wiki.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cultural Footprint of Jodorowsky's Dune

Image Source: Amazing Stories.

For every generation, there is a window of opportunity to create what Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's son Brontis called, "a dreamed life." This is the Beautiful Alternative, the path not followed, the epitome of achievement not attained due to failure, impediments, lack of resources or similar circumstances. In cinema, Jodorowsky's 1970s' adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) is considered by director Richard Stanley as "the greatest movie never made." A 2013 documentary on the subject argues that, at a critical time in the 1970s, this film marked the dividing line between what really matters artistically and real world limitations. And the fact that this particular film was not made because of monetary problems, and the unwillingness of the studios to bring such a radical vision to popular audiences, changed Hollywood and the entertainment industry forever.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Counting Down to Hallowe'en: Dark Seed's Other Dimension

The librarian from Dark Seed (1992). Image Source: Red and White Kop.

One of the most famous early horror video games, Dark Seed, was released by Cyberdreams in 1992. It is noted for its haunting artwork by the late Swiss artist, H. R. Giger, and its ground-breaking high resolution graphics. Unusually for its format, the game heightened stress by forcing the player to complete tasks within a limited time. Otherwise, the player had to start again. This is because an alien-like 'dark seed' has been implanted in the protagonist, who must solve several interrelated real world and other dimensional puzzles before the embryo is born and kills him and all of humankind. The protagonist can only last three days in his newly-purchased, otherworldly house!

Giger's contribution lays out an ever-worsening excursion into an unforgivingly crazy and monochromatic subconscious. It's so frankly and unflinchingly portrayed that at times you can't help but laugh at how dreadful it all is. The plot opens as a man moves into a dilapidated mansion, where his nightmares and daily routine begin to converge:
Mike Dawson is a successful advertising executive and writer who has recently purchased an old mansion on Ventura Drive (named after Ventura Boulevard) in the small town of Woodland Hills. On his first night at the house, Mike has a nightmare about being imprisoned by a machine that shoots an alien embryo into his brain. He wakes up with a severe headache and, after taking some aspirins and a shower, explores the mansion. He finds clues about the previous owner's death, which reveal the existence of a parallel universe called the Dark World ruled by sinister aliens called the Ancients.
Because today's games are so advanced, it is easy to overlook this early horror gem. Watch the extended gameplay below the jump. Have the patience to follow it through, and it delivers an abiding, nasty creepiness, frayed nerves, and a nagging, subliminal uncertainty about reality. Wiki: "In 2006 Gametrailers.com named [Dark Seed] the seventh scariest game of all time, ranking it above Clock Tower, System Shock 2, and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem."

Game conception drew from H. P. Lovecraft and from Giger's designs for the 1979 film, Alien. Watch for the reference to 'Joe Tuttle,' the gardener, who appears as well in the The Changeling (1980; see it here or here) and The Others (2001). A sequel, Dark Seed II (1995; gameplay here), was influenced by David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990-1991), and also featured horror lurching between two worlds. H. R. Giger did not participate directly in making the sequel. For that reason, the first game remains the unsettling classic.

Still from Dark Seed (1992). Image Source: Red and White Kop.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Farewell to H. R. Giger

H. R. Giger in 1978. Image Source: IB Times.

Very sad news today: Swiss surrealist artist Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger died on 12 May 2014. He was 74. Giger was a Posthuman visionary who glimpsed an uncomfortable future, where humans and machines would combine biomechanically around sexuality. In the 1960s, Giger contemplated grotesque human bodies, twisted by nuclear radiation. Other influences on his work included H. P. Lovecraft, Samuel Beckett and Edgar Wallace, all of whom created fantastical worlds which were metaphors for layers of human consciousness.

Giger with alien design. Image Source: Twentieth Century Fox via Guardian.

Giger gained worldwide renown for his design of the monster on Alien (1979). Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon met Giger and saw a book of his sketches during Alejandro Jodorowsky's ill-fated film adaptation of the novel Dune. Giger's images helped inspire O'Bannon's earliest Alien script; on O'Bannon's urging, director Ridley Scott asked Giger to design the alien, based on Giger's painting Necronom IV. Giger also designed the Facehugger, the Chestburster, the Derelict spaceship, and the Space Jockey. He and fellow Alien production artists won an Oscar. Giger worked on later movies in the franchise as well as other films.

The Necronom IV (1976), inspiration for the alien. Image Source: IB Times.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The First 3D Printed Room is This Summer's Baroque Reality

Images Source: Co.Design.

Designers are turning 3D printing to the service of architecture. Co.Design reports on the curious Baroque prototype which immediately recalls H. R. Giger's work:
Architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger designed a Baroque room with 80 million surfaces. ... Hansmeyer, who is known for using algorithms and computation to generate incredibly complex architecture, is finally ready to build (print) it. This summer, Hansmeyer, in collaboration with project partner Benjamin Dillenburger, will assemble a fully enclosed architectural folly whose highly wrought parts will all be 3-D printed.

Hansmeyer and Dillenburger recently previewed a 1:3 scale prototype of the room at the Materializing Exhibition in Tokyo and Basel’s Swiss Art Awards. The design of the spaces, which blend intricately detailed columns with other finely sculptural and nonstructural elements, can be described as Baroque on steroids.

Digital Grotesque represents a major development for Hansmeyer, who describes his designs as “computational architecture.” His previous series of cardboard and Styrofoam columns all included forms that he defined using algorithmic processes. As he told Co.Design in 2011, “Every 3-D printing facility we spoke to turned us down." The printers, evidently, couldn’t handle the complexity of the columns, with their 16 million polygonal faces.

Well, that was then. This time, Hansmeyer found a printer that could articulate the Giger-esque surrealist forms. In total, the room has 80 million surfaces that will be rendered in smooth sandstone. Like the prototype, the parts will be glazed and gilded, a nod to the design’s Baroque influences.

Despite the extravagant, mind-addling details, Hansmeyer and Dillenburger insist that the forms are generated using a “reduced, minimalist” protocol. They write:

“Inspired by the natural process of cell division, we develop an algorithm that iteratively divides and transforms the initial geometry of a simple cube. Despite simple rules, a complex world of forms arises at multiple scales.”

The designers say that the printed room will navigate between “ornament and structure,” making it, very literally, a digital grotesque. The full-scale installation opens July 22.
The forms are printed, then sanded, glazed and gilded.

"The model as printed out of sandstone using a high-resolution 3-D printer."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prometheus Viral

"I think we can assume that this happens in the film. There’s being up the creek without a paddle, and then there’s being without a boat. And then there’s being up the creek without a boat with aliens in the water." Image Source: Bleeding Cool.

More Prometheus viral videos have been released to promote the Ridley Scott film, which is opening in the first week of June. One in particular, Viral #4, shows lead actress Noomi Rapace in her role as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw contacting Peter Weyland, founder of Weyland Corp., which becomes known as 'The Company' in the Alien film franchise. I have posted the virals and a slowed trailer, below the jump. More than hinting at the film's content, Viral #4 shows that Scott is cleverly using marketing for this movie to make a statement about the endgame of our current technology.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Prometheus as Alien

The ancient astronauts theory is a theme in Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien prequel. These are theoretically Italian cave paintings in Val Camonica, purportedly dated 10,000 BCE. Image Source: Wiki. This is image is in the public domain in the USA.

Ridley Scott has released another Prometheus trailer in the UK (see below the jump; Hat tip: Alien Prequel News), with new footage of the antagonists. This film promises to be a sci-fi game-changer. He has borrowed heavily from all the Millennial conspiracy theories and cultural fashions, from the aliens-built-the-Egyptian-pyramids to H. R. Giger's Atomkinder-as-aliens. Set in 2085, Scott's film offers a cultural meditation on how pre-history is finally catching up with the atomic age, and the synthesis is horrifically internalized via the Millennial singularity. Reel FX Art:
"In Greek mythology, Prometheus (Ancient Greek: Προμηθεύς, "Forethinker") is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day, only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day. The Prometheus myth has been treated by a number of ancient sources, in which Prometheus is credited with (or blamed for) playing a pivotal role in the early history of mankind."
Although in the film, 'Prometheus' is simply the name of a spaceship, Scott's story evidently reimagines the Prometheus myth so that Prometheus was an alien. What does this really signify? Scott is touching on the devasting insight of the turn of the Millennium, when the deep past and far future come crashing together on the Internet. The Web allows data from any time or place to be randomly juxtaposed and reinterpreted. In other words, our technology is destroying humanity's perspective of the flow of history. In tech-driven virtual realities, historic artifacts are anachronistically interchangeable: time is radically out of control. Perhaps Scott's aliens here will symbolize that loss of temporal control. The film opens June 1.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Prometheus Has Landed

Image Source: 20th Century Fox via Collider.

The Prometheus trailer just came out today (see long and short versions below the jump). It looks like this film will be the Millennial movie; it is chock-a-block with 2012 conspiracy theories, and set in the Alien continuity. Ridley Scott's Alien prequel - including new designs from H. R. Giger - could be the space opera sci-fi film with a heavyweight story that Avatar should have been.

Boomer director Scott at his best is a true visionary; he has a sense of grandeur, history and social truths that persist over time. His new film incorporates mysteries of ancient civilizations with slick futuristic designs. In a recent interview, he anticipated an anti-tech backlash as part of the natural pattern of human behaviour. At the same time, he has an uncanny appreciation of the vast potential of technology and anything we can harness to that technology - be it human destiny, diseases, androids - or aliens. The story is set in 2085, 30 years prior to Alien, and is being hailed an equally-weighty successor to Blade Runner and Alien.

Screenwriter Damon Lindelof, confirmed that travelling into the future is equivalent to travelling into humanity's deep past: "[The film] covers a vast expanse of time, past, present and future. ... Space exploration in the future is going to evolve into this idea that it's not just about going out there and finding planets to build colonies. It also has this inherent idea that the further we go out, the more we learn about ourselves. The characters in this movie are preoccupied by the idea: what are our origins?"

Scott draws on another Millennial trope, the sharp juxtaposition of religion and science. He plays on the hazy pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology about aliens founding civilization on Earth, which was popularized in the 1960s and which the Internet has solidified into pseudofact:
The film would explore the nature, origin, and "staggering civilization" of the alien race of the space jockey, as well as the beings' fictional anthropogenic role in the origins of humanity on Earth. Such ideas were "partially" inspired by Erich von Däniken's writings about ancient astronauts. Scott told the Hollywood Reporter, "NASA and the Vatican agree that [it is] almost mathematically impossible that we can be where we are today without there being a little help along the way... That’s what we’re looking at (in the film), at some of Erich von Däniken’s ideas of how did we humans come about." Scott's prequel ... would also focus on terraforming and the fictitious Weyland Industries before its merger with the Yutani Corporation. Scott furthered that the original Zeta II Reticuli planetary system would be part of the prequel story; and that the plot would also entail "technologically feasible" approaches and applications towards "near faster-than-light travel" which would play a key role. "Time dilation and the effects of essentially de-materializing and re-materializing" also factored in the drafts. Elaborating more, the director commented in an interview that "the film will be really tough, really nasty. It's the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?" He later added, "The cast find an establishment which is not what they expected it to be, it’s a civilization but what we find in it is very uncivilized behaviour."
Even by today's jaded, marketing-weary standards, Scott's viral campaign for this flick is unusually clever. Aside from Weyland's 2023 TED talk, the Prometheus promotion includes a fictional corporate Website, where information and hints about the story are being continually released. These virals include, today, a fictional corporate video of the unboxing of Weyland's first android, played by Michael Fassbender (this video is also below the jump, featuring Guy Pearce's smoothly egotistical mega-tech-corp-boss narration). The android video was meta-marketed at the SF comics convention, WonderCon, this weekend.

I am not sure why it has taken so long to bring out a science fiction film of this calibre, given the progress made with CGI over the past ten years. For example, why hasn't Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy been filmed? At any rate, the standard is almost certainly set. Now, will someone please give Sean Young a role in the Prometheus sequel?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prometheus Trailer

There's lots of buzz on the Internet today regarding a teaser trailer (see it below) for Ridley Scott's 2012 semi-prequel of the Alien franchise, entitled Prometheus. Everyone is happy to hear that H. R. Giger has been working on the project, and Scott promises to get to the bottom of the alien origins of human life on our planet (a very popular Millennial eschatological conspiracy theory). He will also explain who and what the Space Jockey was in his first Alien movie. Scott suggested in a recent interview that the Space Jockey's ship was a weapons transport, and that the Xenomorph, which appeared in all the Alien movies so far, was not the original alien, but a some kind of derivative species of the real alien species. The trailer and the image shown here are from Apple iTunes and Trailer Addict and are © 20th Century Fox.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Here's a random image from the sets of the 2012 Alien-prequel-that-isn't-a-prequel, directed by Ridley Scott. You can see more set photos at Alien Prequel News.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dreams and Visions

 One of Giger's depictions of Debbie Harry © H. R. Giger. Image Source: Lyrics Search.

Many thanks to Leo Plaw, for commenting on this post regarding the H. R. Giger retrospective exhibition, which ends today in Vienna.  This site has images of Giger's artworks in that show.

There are also video interviews in German with Giger on that site, concerning his inspirations.   In the first video, the Swiss artist comments that he was inspired by reading Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (Die Traumdeutung).  The artist then translated some of Freud's concepts using his own symbols.  The curator, Dr. Andreas Hirsch, remarks that the exhibition reflects the primal visual motifs in Giger's major works; the compiler of the exhibition catalogue points particularly to Giger's intertwined themes of Thanatos and Eros.  In the second video, Giger briefly answers some questions about the Alien movies and Hollywood.  A better understanding of the themes Giger employs in his work may add some new dimensions to how we see the blockbuster film franchise.

It doesn't surprise me that Freud's text, first published in 1899, inspired Giger to bring us his dark futuristic visions.  The opening of that text states:
In the following pages, I shall demonstrate that there is a psychological technique which makes it possible to interpret dreams, and that on the application of this technique, every dream will reveal itself as a psychological structure, full of significance, and one which may be assigned to a specific place in the psychic activities of the waking state. Further, I shall endeavour to elucidate the processes which underlie the strangeness and obscurity of dreams, and to deduce from these processes the nature of the psychic forces whose conflict or co-operation is responsible for our dreams.
You can read The Interpretation of Dreams, which outlined Freud's belief that all dreams were a form of wish fulfillment, here.

Another image of Harry, envisioned by Giger © H. R. Giger. Image Source: Wurzeltod.

Beyond Freud, the German literature from the late 1800s up into the interwar period abounded with romantic images of death that were connected to the regeneration of life and beauty.  Ultimately, this preoccupation involved a deeper investigation of emotions, sleep and dreams.  Before the First World War, German writers were conjured up grisly images; this trend intensified when post-war writers began to write of their wartime experiences and the terrible juxtaposition of death and beauty, or death and love.  They used shocking imagery, such as mountains of bodies, or delicate flowers growing from the skulls of dead maidens. 

These necrotic symbols merged with Expressionism, which helped entrench the chief vice of the 20th century, an excess of subjectivity. The notion that we are trapped in our own heads and cannot escape is a common trope, something I've blogged about in relation to Millennial anomie here and here.  This merged artistic style boiled everything down to the most basic of human sensations and feelings, and lined those impulses up with the drama of the environment (the continuing popularity of this subtext could help explain why 'the environment' has become a prime political cause around the turn of the Millennium: it's our seemingly inescapable subjectivity, projected large upon the world).  In the tempests and dire circumstances of the Natural World, we perceive the fog of our own internal perspectives and mini existential crises.  That only adds to the subjective frustration, however, because the outside world ought to be autonomous.  If we see only our personal upsets in it, it means we do not see it at all.

As a result, there are three branches to this as Modern and Postmodern artists seek to understand the human condition: first, you have human life reduced to its most primal experiences, including death, love and rebirth; second, you have the inability to gain any clarity on how our instincts play roles in sparking that cyclical, biological process.  Again, this is a question of what kind of imprint we leave, if any, on objective outside reality.  There is a sense that death somehow involves our transition out into that outside objectivity, but we do not comprehend that pathway.  Third, this is where dreams come in.  The notion that our subconscious or unconscious minds can give us symbolic clues to what the hell is going on in the relationship between our brains, spirits, souls on the one hand, and our environment on the other, is the driving principle to Germanic and related artistic efforts over the past century.  Artists and writers in these movements slowly developed a desire not just to project our psychological quandaries upon the broader world (known as natural sympathy in literature) but to depict the missing link between subjective and objective realities through the interpretation of dreams.

Some examples.  Gottfried Benn's Morgue (1912), a collection of morbid poems about physical decay.  This is literally a mediation on 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust,' as human bodies return to the earth, whence they came.  The collection represents Benn's struggle to understand what that transition means.

Jakob van Hoddis's Weltende (1918: World End).  The poem depicts huge floods crashing into the coastlines of a great empire.  Meanwhile, in the heart of the capital city, the only indication of the coming disaster is a light breeze that blows a citizen's hat off as he walks in the park.  This poem, while describing the arrival of the apocalypse with a laid-back, tongue-in-cheek, here-we-go irony, is nonetheless grimly preoccupied with the elements roiling in natural sympathy with an unseen, but impending, catastrophe. That's a mood many of us can likely appreciate these days.  A rough translation of the poem is at Wiki.

Johannes R. Becher's Mensch steh auf! (1920: Human, Stand Up!) actually opens with an address to the chaotic, cursed century, in which people are suspended in anguish, illuminated by flashes of hazy illusions (for background on Becher's life, go here).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nuclear Culture 5: Video Games of the Nuclear Apocalypse

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) © GSC Gameworld.

Radiation, once considered a source of vitality, now inspires our most horrific nightmares about lingering sickness, painful death - and eugenics. In 1968, H. R. Giger created a piece called Atomic Children (see it in this post), which appears to have influenced his famous design of the Alien for that movie franchise. In other words, the Alien might, in its original conception, have partly been imagined as a human being genetically morphed through the effects of radiation. Speculation on how we would survive in the poisoned atmosphere of a nuclear wasteland and the kinds of organisms we would become under those conditions have dominated sci-fi and horror tropes since the mid-twentieth century.

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008-2009) © GSC Gameworld.

Video games provide some of the most visceral cultural explorations of the long term consequences of nuclear war and radioactive disasters. They allow the player immersion in hellish apocalyptic settings that are marked by total obliteration of the environment and survival at any cost.

Screenshot wallpaper from S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) © GSC Gameworld.

In some games, nukes are just weapons (such as: Mass Effect; DEFCON; CIVILIZATION). In others, nuclear holocausts spawn new worlds, populated by mutants. Two big game franchises in this branch of survival horror are the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008-2009); S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007); S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (2009-2010)) and the Fallout series (Fallout (1997); Fallout 2 (1998); Fallout Tactics (2001); Fallout 3 (2008); Fallout: New Vegas (2010)). Both franchises deal with how we perceive the genetic effects of radiation in ruined landscapes. In both cases, an individual shooter player confronts mutants and genetically-twisted monsters. These creatures are inversions of the radioactive comic book superhero. The latter are caricatures of our fantasy that radiation could potentially have a positive impact on human evolution. These game worlds are the flip side of that atomic heroism.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

H. R. Giger Exhibition Alert

Alienmonster (Giger's Alien), 1979 © HR Giger, 2011. Image Source: Kunst Haus Wien.

H. R. Giger Update. What should pop up in my inbox yesterday, but a nice invitation from Kunst Haus Wien to a press conference with H. R. Giger? The Swiss artist who famously designed the alien in the Alien franchise will be meeting with the press today to discuss his new exhibition, Träme und Visionen (Dreams and Visions) which is running at the Kunst Haus (Untere Weißgerberstraße 13, 1030 Vienna) from 10 March to 26 June.

Atomkinder (Atomic Children), 1968 Collection of City Zürich © HR Giger, 2011. Image Source: Kunst Haus Wien.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Heir Apparent for H. R. Giger?

Killing Time (2007). By Jud Turner.

Hallowe'en - are we there yet?  In my run-up to this autumn festival, I have to thank my friend J. for coming across the American artist I'm mentioning in my post today.  The artist's name is Jud Turner.  He's a Gen Xer from Oregon, and he is  taking H. R. Giger's themes to a new, Post-Postmodern industrial level in his sculpturesBy Post-Postmodern in this case, I mean the juxtaposition of different time periods in a single existential narrative.  Turner's aim appears to be to create and somehow shockingly reconcile paradoxes.  He installs the ancient or the fossilized within industrial sculptural constructions and goes one step beyond Postmodern messages about disjointed, navel-gazing subjectivity.  This produces some visceral, jarring results, as with the fossilized junkyard fish trying to eat a dime in the sculpture, Greed Eater, below.  I haven't seen a better comment, anywhere, on the inflationary psychology that led to the Great Recession of  2008 to the present.  You can see more of Turner's sculptures on his homepage, here

Greed Eater (2010). By Jud Turner.

Friday, June 11, 2010

H. R. Giger, the Alien Prequel and Advice to Aspiring Artists

1H. R. Giger Room for VIPs in the now defunct Limelight Club in NYC. ©H. R. Giger. Source: H. R. Giger Official Website.

Will Ridley Scott's Alien prequel feature new alien designs by Swiss artist, H. R. Giger? Maybe, according to Scott. He will approach Giger to collaborate on new designs:
"Scott says that H.R. Giger’s original designs for the creatures are 'worn out' and he would like to collaborate with the artist on coming up with something 'completely different.' I think that’s a fantastic idea. For all the silliness of human-alien and predator-alien hybrids, I would like to see new creatures within the xenomorph world. We know our face-huggers, chest-bursters, full-grown creatures, and the queen, but what other horrors does this species hold?"