|In 1981, a year after being awarded the Oscar
for Best Achievement for Visual Effects, the book H.R.
GIGER/N.Y CITY was published. This series of post Alien
works, the result of an intense period of non-stop
painting, literally day and night, were inspired by
Giger's trip to New York City and a template which his
colleague Cornelius de Fries, brought back from one of
his excursions into the electronic industry. The stencil
was actually a sheet of scrap metal from which electrical
components had been puncehed out. The HRG/NYC book has
been out of print for ten years but all the paintings
have been reproduced in Giger's 1997 book by TASCHEN, www
HRGiger com. The wonderful Foreword by his late friend,
TIMOTHY LEARY, one of the most insightful texts about the
artist's work can be found and appreciated here on
Giger's official website and also in the 1993 Taschen
book HR GIGER ARh+.
HR GIGER/N.Y CITY
Ugly Publishing Zurich
I am sitting in my study in the Hollwywood Hills writng a foreword to Giger's N.Y. City I look out the window and watch Barbara's rosebushes blooming, the 12 tall, slim Italian cypresses, the hill green with ivy. Our dog and cat play with each other on the lawn. The sky is blue. Photographs of Giger's N.Y City paintings are scattered around my desk. I examine them for the hundredth time, overwhelmed with admiration for this Swiss painter who is producing the great art of the 21st Century. What word can I use to describe these scientifically precise pages ripped out of my own body? Glance through this book yourself for a minute and sympathize with my dilemma. Our primitive, prescientific language contains few words accurate enough to communicate the scary, awesome facts that Giger reveals. Giger, you slice my tissues into thin microscopic slides for the world to see. Giger, you razor-shave sections of my brain and plaster them still pulsing across your canvas. Giger, you are an Alien lurking inside my body, laying your futique eggs of wonder. You have wound silken threads of larval cocoon around you and tunnelled down deep into my wisdom gland. Giger, you see more than we domesticate primates. Are you from some super-intellgent species? Are you a viral visitor staring with your petalled-poppy eyes into our reproductive organs? Kekule von Stradonitz dreamed of the serpent eating its own tail, discovered the carbon ring and thus started the Golden Age of Chemistry. Einstein dreamed of floating in an elevator, understood the principle of relativity, and started the Golden Age of Physics. And here comes Giger. He has obviously activated circuits of his brain that govern the unicellular politics within our bodies, our botanical technologies, our aminoacid machines. Giger has become the official portrait photographer for the Golden Age of Biology. Giger's work disturbs us, spooks us because of its enormous evolutionary time-span. It shows us all to clealry, where we came form and where we are going. He reaches into our biological memories. He takes baby pictures of us eight months before we were born. Gynecological landscapes. Interuterine postcards. Giger goes even further back, probably into the nucleus of our cells. Do you want to know what you DNA code looks like? Glance ahead in this book. Are you ready to observe your RNA mass-producing cells and tissues, relentlessly cloning our fleshly architecture? Turn the page. Like Hieronymous Bosch, like Peter Brueghel, Giger mercilessly shows us the anabolism and catabolism of our realities. In these paintings we see ourselves as crawling embryos, as fetal larval creatures protected by the membranes of our egos waiting for the moment of our metamorphosis and newbirth. We see our cities, our civilizations as insect hives, ant colonies peopled by crawling creatures. Us. Giger gives us courage to say "hello" to ur insectoid selves. Eugene Marais, the Boer naturalist, and Edward Wislon, the Harvard sociobilogist, have descried the complex, intricate survival technologies of the social insects. From these ethologists we learn that social insects, termites, for example, have been successfully ruinning urban civilizations for over 400 million years. From the social insects we are now learning the evolutinary strategies of the intelligent species. If we want our species to evolve and to grow, we must understand exactly how the social insects are superior to us. They have developed the twactic of metamorphosis the individual passes through several stages each smarter and more mobile than the preceding. They use division of labor into temporal and structural castes. They developed winged forms which carry the DNA bible of the species a loft migrating to new ecological niches. Egg intelligence organizes the hive (gene pool) into a harmonious, flexible, diverse unity. New York City is the up to date peak of human terrestrial intelligence. NYC is a hive of nine million humanoids. Humanoids frantically running around waving their antennae nervously. The swarming city hums with hive energy. Giger's NY City confronts us with the fact that our bodies are enormous , membrane contained cities swarming with trillion of cells which scuttle around the RNA designed streets, arteries, tissue bone buildings. Giger's NY City reminds us that city life, civilizations, is an insectoid stage our species is passing through. The age of cities is over. Sure no free, intelligent person wants to spend his life as a furtive, shadowed rodent running around in a caverened metropolis. Like it or not, we are all insectoid aliens burrowing within our urbanoid bodies. Giger's fleshscapes, his microscopic slides are signals to mutate. City dwellers alert! It is time to evolve! We shall no longer have to cling like barnacles and crawl liek caterpillars in the darknewss of our own metropolitan tissues. Giger's art flashes the illumination of biological intelligence down into the dark caves of our cities. The genetic signals clear. Crawl out of the city tunnels! Expose your plaen membraned body to the sun and the sky! Unfold your glorious, silken wings! Soar above the planet surface and fly high into space! Here is the evolutionary genius of Giger. Although he takes us back far, deep into our swampy, vegetative, insectoid past, he always propels us forward into space. His perspective is ultimately post terrestrial. He teaches us how to love our crawly, slimy, embryonic insect bodies so that we can metamorphize them. Here in California we love Giger. We gave him our highest award for scientific achievement. The Oscar. We love Giger because Los Angeles is not a city. We are post urban. There are no subways in Southern California. Here we live in small space like communities and neighborhoods connected with freeways. Okay, I have written my tribute to the genius of Giger. Now I shall walk from my study out to the sunny patio. The winged birds are calling me, a butterfly just zoomed by my window, and Giger is awaiting me up there above the trees where the sky is blue.
Timothy Leary, Hollywood, June 1981.
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