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Development of Giger's Art
a) The Passages nightmares
Giger spoke about the Passages painting series, how the first of his corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these dreams he usually found himself in a large white room without doors or windows, he would compare the place to being like a stone grave or a tomb and the only way out
lead to an all powerful evil represented by a dark, iron opening barred by a clamp in the form of iron hoop half way along that was basically a large safety pin. The dreams also reveal the place to be a sort of an oven and he would have his arms drawn up.
Moreover in passing through this opening he regularly got stuck. And to crown everything, the exit at the end of this long chimney, where he could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be promptly shut by an unseen force. Then he would be stuck in the tube with his arms pressed tightly by his sides unable to move forwards or backwards and feeling that he was running out of air. He would always think in the dream "Oh my god, why am I here?" The only way out was to wake up.
He subsequently painted some of these imaginary passages and then then had been spared this birth trauma. The passages became for him a symbol of growth and dissolution with all the possible stages of pleasure and pain, and continue to have a hold on him. His mother revealed to him that he had a difficult birth and that he didn't want to come out.
d) Influence on Alien
See also H R Giger's Passages i-ix influencing design of Nostromo Corridors and Giger's influence on Ron Cobbs Alien birth Temple
- HR Giger: A
long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a
kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that
was probably a dream, which , from my mother... mine was a difficult
birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out
and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again,
and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become
dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams
stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent
that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's
turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since
then. (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution)
- HR Giger: The strongest thing in my work, I think, is the claustrophobic stuff. I still sometimes have shitty dreams with that in… being inside rooms that are like graves, a stone grave, a tomb. And I always think in the dream, ‘Oh my god, why am I here?’ (He laughs) Claustrophobic things are terrible. I used to think all that was finished but it’s still here. That’s more important to me than the erotic stuff.” (www.imaginefx.com/)
- Giger: As a boy, I would dream every
night that I was in a white room, from which I could only escape from a
hole in the cieling. But even when I managed to reach this hole. I was
stuck inside the wall and couldn't breathe. I freed myself from these
obsessions when I began painting my Passages (Cinefantastique vol9, no 1, p37-39)
- Giger: The initial "Passages" paintings
were created in 1969 following a series of dreams, I was in a large
white room with no windows or doors. The only exit was a dark metal
opening in which, to make things worse, was partially obstructed by a
safety pin. I usually got stuck when passing through this opening. The
exit at the end of a long chimney which could be seen only as a tiny
point of light, was, to my misfortune, blocked by an invisible power.
Then I found myself stuck as I tried to pass through the pipe, my arms
pressed against my body, unable to move forward or backward. At that
point I started to lose my breath and the only way out was to wake up. I
have since painted some of these dream images in the "Passages" series
(Passages I-IX) and as a result have been freed from recurring memories
of this particular birth trauma. But the "Passages" which for me
symbolize maturity and decay, with all the accompanying stages of
pleasure and pain, have not released their hold on me (HR Giger's Retrospective 1964-1984 p34 (From Paasagen ["Passages"] H R Giger 1974))
- Giger: The first of corridor pictures were prompted by a series of dreams. In these I
usually found myself in a large white room without doors or windows. the only exit a dark, iron opening barred by an iron hoop
half way along. Moreover in passing through this opening I regularly
got stuck. And to crown everything, the exit at the end of this long
chimney, where I could see only a faint shimmer of light, would be
promptly shut by an unseen force. Now I was stuck in the tube
with my arms pressed by my sides unable to move forwards or backwards
and feeling that I was running out of air. The only way out was to wake up. I subsequently painted some of these
imaginary passages (I-IX) and since then had been spared this birth trauma. But the
passages became for me a symbol of growth and dissolution in ever
possible stage of pleasure and pain, and they had remained with me to this day.(From Giger's Necronomicon English edition, 1991)
Passage VII (1970)
- HR Giger: The first passages paintings resulted from a series of vivid dreams. Most of the time I would find myself in a big white room without any doors and windows, where the only exit leads to an all powerful evil, which was represented by a dark, metal opening obstructed by a metal clamp. I often became firmly stuck when I tried to pass through this opening. To my misfortune, the exit at the end of this long tunnel, which could be spotted as a tiny gleam of light. was promptly locked by an invisible force. Now I would be stuck in the tube with my arms pressed tightly against my body and could not move forward or backwards, and I felt as if I was running out of breath. The only solution was to wake up. I then drew some of these imaginary PASSAGES (I-IX) and since then have been spared the birth nightmare. But the PASSAGES, which have become for me the symbol of Becoming and Passing with all stages of lust and suffering, have not let go of me to this day (Giger's Film Design, p10)
- C J Fifer: I suffer
from bad dreams, and use them to create my own art. Of all the night
terrors you've had, is there one particular nightmare that has stuck
with you .
HR Giger: There are many. In a lot of cases, recurring dreams eventually led to the creation of some of my most poignant works. I frequently wrote about this in my books, such as the Necronomicon. An exampled of this is the 'Passagen' series of painting of the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Bizarre magazine, 2013 p67)
- Giger: ...
sometimes I have these images, while I was painting the Passage, it was
okay, but when I get into unpleasant situations, I suddenly find myself
in some kind of masonry in which I get stuck and it's getting hot or
I'm sitting outside and I have to get inside... (Through the eyes of Giger, video interview)
- HR Giger: A
dream where I can’t get enough air, that’s frightening. Or the kind of
dream where I was stuck in a grave or something like that, that was
frightening. But later I developed these passages paintings [Passage I-XXX]
and they were very good for that. I got some sort of relief. I got no
more bad dreams when I painted these passages. It was helpful.
Conor Creighton: Does that happen often?
HR Giger: No, not often, but I did the right thing because at the time these passage dreams were ruining my work. It was the right thing to make me feel better.
(conorcreighton.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/) & (www.vice.com/)
- Giger found inspiration for his art in the night terrors he experienced
beginning in his childhood. Painting his dark and disturbing visions
provided a kind of self-therapy: (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013)
- HR Giger: I don’t have these dreams anymore. Well, maybe I do but I don’t make sketches of them. I draw some of the things I have dreamt. For example, there’s a rather unpleasant dream where I am stuck in a tomb and the only way out is a very narrow passage. There are huge stones and I am totally stuck. I cannot move at all. So terrifying, claustrophobic nightmares. I made some drawings of them, and every time I look at them, it puts me back into that terrible situation. Looking at these pictures bothers me so much, that I don’t look at them anymore.” (www.cgsociety.org/ 2 May 2013
- Interviewer: Do you get your inspiration from dreams, and does your art work reflect your dreams.
H R Giger: My dreams are usually very realistic, there aren't any figures like the ones in my paintings. But I for example used to have an unpleasant dream, I always tell people the same thing but it happens to be true; a long time ago I used to have nightmares, they were, I was stuck in a kind of oven with my hands drawn up and I couldn't get any air, and that was probably a dream, which, from my mother... mine was a difficult birth, you see, that's what my mother told me, I didn't want to come out and of course I couldn't get any air and that happened again and again, and then from far away, I would see a light and then it would become dark again, couldn't get any air and so on, and these unpleasant dreams stopped when I began to paint those passages which actually represent that condition. At the time, I didn't notice that at all, but well it's turned out to be true because I haven't had any of those dreams since then. (report from unused conversation with H R Giger for Alien Evolution)