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H.R. Giger body paints Debbie Harry for album cover and video—behind the scenes
07.12.2017
01:57 pm
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In the spring of 1980, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie met H.R. Giger at a party at the Hansen Gallery in New York City, which was showing an exhibit of Giger’s Alien paintings. Giger was actually on his way back from Los Angeles, where he had just received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in recognition of his groundbreaking work on the movie. Giger later gave the following account of the meeting:
 

There I was introduced to a very beautiful woman, Debbie Harry, the singer of the group Blondie, and her boyfriend, Chris Stein. They were apparently excited about my work and asked me whether I would be prepared to design the cover of the new Debbie Harry album. I found both of them immediately likeable; so I readily agreed and was greatly pleased to be allowed to create something for such an attractive woman, although I had never heard anything from the group. This was due to the fact that I was more interested in jazz.

 
It was a heady moment for both sides of the equation. Alien had launched Giger to a whole new level of fame, while Blondie were still riding the crest of the new wave they had done so much to define; their fourth album Eat to the Beat had come out a few months before. But Harry and Stein were getting tired of being in Blondie.

Harry and Giger don’t seem particularly similar as artists, but as is well known, they did end up collaborating on the album cover for Harry’s first solo album KooKoo, which came out in 1981. KooKoo, unfortunately, was not a rousing success, and much of the reason for the disappointing outcome was the unsettling cover art, which showed the face of a regal and unmistakably Giger-esque Harry impaled by four large spikes. Here is a picture of Giger with the early concept art:
 

 
Giger said that the idea of the metal spikes derived from a medical procedure he had recently undergone: “Since I had just had an acupuncture treatment from my friend and doctor, Paul Tobler, the idea of the four needles came to me, in which I saw symbols of the four elements, to be combined with her face. I submitted the suggestions by phone to Debbie and Chris. They liked the idea and, in addition, they commissioned me to make two videoclips (music videos) of the best songs.”

The image was disturbing enough that advertisements featuring the image were banned by British Rail, and they weren’t the only ones. One might say that the public really didn’t want the era’s reigning sultry pop-disco queen to enter the scary and forbidding world of Giger’s art, but Harry and Stein have never exactly been afraid to take a risk, so the die was cast on that, for better or for worse.
 

 
After the album came out, Stein and Harry penned an article for Heavy Metal (which was already intimately familiar with Giger’s work) about working with the artist. In the piece, which is called “Strange Encounters of the Swiss Kind” and is coauthored by Harry and Stein, the following observations are registered:
 

Giger is an industrial designer, which is very apparent to you the moment you step into his home. Even something as alien-looking as his chairs is structurally sound. The Alien creature—with its McLuhanesque quality of being the machine as an extension of the organic—makes sense biologically. The face hugger, with its air sacs, isn’t just decorative. Giger’s work has a subconscious effect: it engenders the fear of being turned into metal. It’s awesome—the work of an ultimate perfectionist, a true obsessive.

 
Much more after the jump….....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.12.2017
01:57 pm
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H.R. Giger’s nightmarish tarot cards (NSFW)
05.11.2016
12:24 pm
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Sometime in the 1990s the Swiss occultist who goes by the name Akron suggested to his countryman H.R. Giger that he create a set of tarot cards. Giger demurred, claiming a lack of time as well as a lack of interest in the subject—all the while insisting that he was “too superstitious” to take on such a project.

Giger did, however, regard tarot as an interesting venue for his artworks, and he was willing to re-purpose some of his pre-existing images as a tarot deck. The tarot deck featuring Giger’s artworks covers only the major arcana and is known as the Baphomet deck, named after the pagan god you can see depicted in the Alchemy and Devil cards at the top of this post.

It is currently out of print but like most anything, used sets can be purchased online. It seems that a detailed description of Giger’s cards written by Akron is included with the decks. 
 

 
Lauren Davis at io9 surely hit on something when she observed that when you use a deck like Giger’s, it doesn’t matter what cards you draw, they “always predict an unsettling future.”

My favorite part of Giger’s deck is actually the design for the back:
 

 
You can purchase a set for about $50 and up.
 

 
More of Giger’s tarot cards after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.11.2016
12:24 pm
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Creature feature: See H.R. Giger’s wild Japanese ads for the Pioneer Corporation
03.24.2016
09:10 am
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In 1985 the Japanese electronics company Pioneer hired visionary Swiss artist H.R. Giger for an advertising campaign to promote the company’s new Zone system. A television commercial was made featuring one of Giger’s unmistakable creatures, and Giger generated two print advertisements as well.

Aylmer at the Unflinching Eye blog points out that Giger was likely repurposing some of the labor that went into Jodorowsky’s never-to-be-completed adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune:
 

It would appear that in 1984/85 H.R. Giger quietly recycled some of his iconic production artwork for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unrealised Dune adaptation. Not for use in another movie, but a Japanese ad campaign for Pioneer’s ZONE home entertainment system.

This brief glimpse of Giger’s dark vision for planet Arrakis makes me lament the death of this project more than ever. The combination of Giger’s nightmarish design and Jodorowsky’s unconventional and surreal approach would surely have resulted in a cult SF film quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

 
If you haven’t seen Frank Pavich’s 2014 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, it’s a must-see!

This is not the only instance of Japan expressing admiration for Giger’s work. In 2014 we noted that Shirokanedai, Tokyo, was one of the four locations to host one of the distinctive and immersive bars created in the Giger style, but Giger grew irritated by the limitations imposed by the Japanese building codes, and disowned the Tokyo Giger Bar.

Here are the two print advertisements Giger created for Pioneer (click on the images for a larger view):
 

 

 
After the jump, Giger’s TV commercial for Pioneer…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.24.2016
09:10 am
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‘Gigerstein’: The extraordinary guitar that H.R. Giger designed for Blondie’s Chris Stein
05.26.2015
12:31 pm
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A few days ago VICE ran an interesting interview with Chris Stein of Blondie on the subject of his close friendship with the masterful Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Stein was heavily involved with Debbie Harry’s first solo album, KooKoo, for which Giger supplied the incredibly memorable cover art, with Harry’s face seemingly punctured by several large acupuncture needles.
 

 
Stein was very fond of Giger, who died about a year ago, calling him “a really sweet guy.” Stein said that he owns a throne that Giger designed: “It’s one of a very few in the country. The seat cushion rotted completely at one point and he gave me a second seat cushion, which is starting to rot. It was made from foam rubber.”

I was poking around on Stein’s own website dedicated to Blondie information when I spied a reference to “Gigerstein,” identified as follows: “Chris’ custom GIGERSTEIN guitar, designed with the help of H. R. Giger and Chris himself.” Sure enough, click on the link and you arrive at the web page for Lieber Guitars, which indeed has plenty of information and pics about this remarkable guitar.

According to the page,
 

The asymmetrical bio-mechanical body is hand carved in wood. It is adorned with carbon graphite, assorted biological materials and bronze castings.

The neck and six-fingered “peg-hand” comprise unidirectional carbon graphite fiber. A unique construction feature is the integral molding of the neck and fingerboard.

 
The Lieber Guitars page that highlights the instrument is a little vague on who actually designed this guitar. It would be enough for it to be “based on” the incredibly distinctive artworks of Giger, but if Giger had a hand in the design of the guitar itself, well, then that’s even better. Two consecutive sentences flesh out the details here: “After [Thomas] Lieber’s careful study of Giger’s artworks, the concept of using an Alien’s hand for the peg-head was realized and several body depictions were rendered.” Okay, so Lieber was on his own, it seems. But then we read on: “In an artistic meeting, Giger, Chris and Lieber hammered out the final modifications and details and the result is truly a work of art.” So it was mainly Lieber’s design but Giger definitely, according to the guitar maker, was involved in the process of creating this singular guitar.

More information as well as these pictures can be found at the Lieber Instruments website.
 

 

 
More looks at Gigerstein after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.26.2015
12:31 pm
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The Unseen Cinema of H.R. Giger
05.20.2015
10:32 am
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It’s been a year since the amazing Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger was lost to us. He was best known for his “Xenomorph” creature design for the film Alien, album art for Emerson Lake and Palmer and Debbie Harry, and for the notorious poster included in Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist LP, the utterly preposterous censorship repercussions from which derailed that band’s existence. To mark the first anniversary of his passing, the Museum of Arts and Design, on Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan, is hosting a three program festival of Giger documentaries, and rare films to which he contributed design work. The films will run over Memorial Day weekend, with a program on Friday, May 22, 2015, and two programs on Saturday the 23rd. If you’re not a New Yorker, keep an eye out; a traveling version of the festival isn’t out of the question.
 

H.R. Giger and Debbie Harry, 1981

The Friday 7:00 PM program is notable for its inclusion of A New Face of Debbie Harry, the FM Murer documentary about Giger’s videos for Debbie Harry’s KooKoo LP, and it will be introduced by Harry and Chris Stein. (DM told you about those videos last year.) But even more importantly, it also features Murer’s amazing 1969 film Swissmade 2069. The strange 40-minute work is a look at a dystopian future in which nonconformists and maladapts are exiled to reservations, while valued citizens are subject to insanely granular levels of central planning—right down to actual mind-reading—viewed through the Bolex-lens eyes of an alien visitor, which was designed by Giger (his credit is for “Future-Design”). It’s has never been screened in the USA before, which blew my mind to learn—after the Alien films made Giger famous among civilians, you’d think there’d have been at least an arthouse interest in a prior film with a Giger alien design!

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.20.2015
10:32 am
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New carnivorous plant named for H.R. Giger is beautiful (in a vagina dentata kind of way)
04.06.2015
01:04 pm
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Rarely do we here at Dangerous Minds get a chance to report on the fast-paced (?) world of botany, but rarely is a gorgeous new cultivar of carnivorous plant named for H.R. Giger! This beautiful (if a little monstrously vaginal) specimen of Nepenthes—or “pitcher plant”—was only recently registered with the International Carnivorous Plant Society by photographer and horticulturist, Matthew M Kaelin, who explains the plant’s name in his submission:

I named this plant Nepenthes ‘H.R. Giger’ in October 2014 in memory of the recently passed Surrealist Artist from Switzerland who is perhaps best-known for creating the Alien creature for director Ridley Scott’s 1979 film “Alien”, which earned him an Academy Award for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects for his designs of the film’s title character, the stages of its lifecycle, and the film’s extraterrestrial environments. As the innovator of the nightmarish “Biomechanical” style, he had a long and well-respected career as a globally influential fine artist in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, industrial design, and interior design. When viewed extremely close and at an angle, the intersection of the peristome teeth and the lid spikes of the cultivar create a frightening alien landscape akin to those imagined by the late H.R. Giger (Fig. 6). This, and because the plant is darkly colored and has such a nightmarish appearance, I feel that it would be a fitting tribute to name the cultivar for the late visionary genius Hans Ruedi Giger.

For your scientific edification: pitcher plants are vines, and tend to climb up trees or sprawl close to the ground—the H.R. Giger cultivar has grown over six feet long, but could grow up to 30. Pitcher plants normally eat insects, but can also consume small vertebrates. Kaelin also notes that the flowers smell “like a pile of dirty sweatsocks”—charming!

And a fitting dedication to a master of body horror brilliance!
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Amber Frost
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04.06.2015
01:04 pm
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Incredible H.R. Giger bar puts you in the belly of the Xenomorph
07.10.2014
01:34 pm
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Giger Bar
 
H.R. Giger’s art is among the most recognizable in existence—it’s very easy to identify something he made, and the unbelievable bar attached to the museum dedicated to his work in Gruyères, Switzerland, is no exception. Amazingly, it’s not the only one in existence—at various times four locations have been able to boast a Giger Bar, two in Switzerland (the other one is in Giger’s birthplace, the town of Chur), one in New York City, and one in Tokyo. But the ones in Switzerland are the only ones that are open today.

The New York branch was located in Peter Gatien’s legendary Limelight nightclub in the Chelsea neighborhood, but once it closed in the 1990s, the Giger Bar closed with it. The story of the ill-fated Tokyo version is even more fascinating:
 

A fourth Giger bar was located in Shirokanedai, Tokyo in the late 1980s. Giger dissolved his involvement with this location after facing frustrations with Japanese building codes and with the Japanese company behind the bar, which created the bar after only rough preliminary sketches. Giger had wanted private booths that functioned as individual elevators which traveled up and down the interior four stories of the design. This design was problematic given restrictions caused by earthquake resistant engineering. Giger disowned the Tokyo Giger Bar and never set foot inside. Within a few years, the establishment was out of business.

 
Giger Bar
One of Giger’s sketches for the bar
 
The description of the bar on the museum’s website is suitably Gigerian:
 

The interior of the otherworldly environment that is the H.R. Giger Museum Bar is a cavernous, skeletal structure covered by double arches of vertebrae that crisscross the vaulted ceiling of an ancient castle. The sensation of being in this extraordinary setting recalls the tale of Jonah and the whale, lending the feel of being literally in the belly of a fossilized, prehistoric beast, or that you have been transported into the remains of a mutated future civilization.

 
The Giger Bar is open every day of the week, except that between November and March it is not open on Mondays.
 
Giger Bar
 
Giger Bar
 
Giger Bar
 
Giger Bar
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.10.2014
01:34 pm
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H.R. Giger and Debbie Harry interview, 1981
05.13.2014
09:40 am
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Sad news is spreading this morning: Swiss surrealist artist H.R Giger has died. Giger is famous as the designer of the eponymous creature and bizarre sets for the film Alien, and for a lifetime’s worth of beautiful and disturbing organic/machine hybrid body-horror paintings (he called them “biomechanoids”). He also became a part of the music world when his works were used as album covers for the likes Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Magma, Celtic Frost and Danzig, among many others. Notoriously his “Penis Landscape” was included as a poster in Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist LP, setting in motion an avalanche of censorship and legal difficulties which derailed the band.

Here’s a 1981 British television interview with Giger and Blondie singer Debbie Harry. The occasion for the seemingly odd pairing is Giger’s portrait of Harry for her debut solo LP, KooKoo. Giger also made videos for the album’s songs “Backfired” and “Now I Know You Know.”
 

 
The music videos are seriously dated by a quaint, acutely ‘80s video cheapness, but they’re still pretty damn cool. They’re by Giger, after all.

 

 
Many thanks to the ever-resourceful Beth Piwkowski for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.13.2014
09:40 am
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The Occult Experience
10.18.2013
01:05 pm
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Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, the Temple of Set’s high priest Michael Aquino and H.R. Giger figure into The Occult Experience, a well-made, intelligent mid-80s Australian TV documentary,  Of particular interest is the section, starting at 33 minutes in, focusing on “witchy” Australian painter Rosaleen Norton, where you can catch a glimpse of some of her fantastic—yet seldom seen—paintings.

Noted occult author Nevill Drury (who contributed two essays to my Book of Lies anthology) did the interviewing, research and co-wrote the narration script, so this one is a cut above the usual fare. Drury’s latest book, co-written with Lynne L. Hume is The Varieties of Magical Experience.
 

Thank you, Tim Bob!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.18.2013
01:05 pm
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Suck on that: ‘Alien’ facehugger bong
09.25.2012
12:23 pm
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Not exactly what I’d want in my mouth (and over my face) if I was getting high, but horses for courses.

Thanks to Rutch Dudder, by way of Grizz.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.25.2012
12:23 pm
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KooKoo: H.R. Giger directs Debbie Harry music video, 1981
07.01.2012
12:14 pm
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Little-known are the two music videos directed by Oscar-winning Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger for Debbie Harry’s 1981 solo album KooKoo (for which Giger also did the now iconic cover art).

“Now I Know You Know” was written by Harry and Chris Stein and produced by Chic’s resident geniuses, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. At the time of KooKoo‘s recording, sick of being “Blondie” and taking a year off from the band, Harry had dyed her signature two-tone bleached-blonde hair brunette and was pictured on the album cover with four spikes going through her head and neck (something inspired by Giger’s visit to his acupuncturist).

The video was shot in H.R. Giger’s studio in Switzerland, in it Harry cavorts around in a sexy black wig, with make-up and a body-hugging catsuit painted by Giger.

Another video was shot by Giger—and he’s in it, too, judging from the hairstyle of the masked male “magician” character—for KooKoo‘s first single, “Backfired,” but it’s pretty weak, actually.
 
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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.01.2012
12:14 pm
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