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Containing a selection of published articles from various print media.

Sheridan Sun: Profile of an artwork: The Alien Xenomorph

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Creeping, visceral horror, alien monsters slithering through cramped ventilation ducts, oozing acidic blood. Bizarre extraterrestrial life forms, infiltrating the human body, warping it in their own image.

If you have ever watched Alien, you are already familiar with the work of Hans Ruedi Giger. The Swiss artist painstakingly designed the slavering, glass-fanged Xenomorph over a span of years, developing the concept in his artwork before applying it to the silver screen.

The term “Xenomorph” – literally, “foreign form” – was borne of Giger’s nightmares. He dreamt of a creature that infests the human body with a spore, or seed. As the creature gestates in its unwitting human host, it begins to alter the host’s physiology to fit its whims. The writers and directors of Alien quickly picked up the design, as they found Giger’s imagery far more frightening than their existing concept sketches. “I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible, and at the same time, as beautiful,” said Alien writer Dan O’Bannon, in an interview given after the film’s release.

Giger elaborately designed an entire life-cycle for his creature. The Xenomorph egg was inspired by the anatomy of the human vulva – in fact, the entire creature is designed with a nod to human sexuality. From the egg hatches the Facehugger, the larval form of the Xenomorph. As its name suggests, this spindly creature latches onto a terrified host, and deposits mutagenic alien DNA into said host’s gullet.

Once the gestation is complete, the Facehugger’s offspring emerges in brutal manner, by bursting from the host’s chest cavity. This new creature is the Xenomorph’s final form, hybridizing alien DNA and that of the host in a single body – aliens born from human hosts resemble men, while those born from other creatures adapt elements of their form into its own.

“He had to be a bit twisted to come up with this stuff,” said Sandy Nowak, a Mississauga artist. “I mean, a gun that shoots fetuses? An alien/human breeding machine? Creative!”

Giger’s bio-mechanical art style has not only inspired a series of blockbuster movies. In Switzerland there are two “Giger Bars,” drinking establishments with an interior design by Giger himself. In addition, his art has inspired countless tattoo artists throughout the world.

This story originally appeared in the Sheridan Sun.

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Written by tomczerniawski

March 14, 2010 at 11:59 am

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