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Artist H.R. Giger, Creator Of Surreal Biomechanics, Dies

NPR icon by Bill Chappell
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Robert Jaeger

You might not know the name, but you probably know the work: H.R. Giger created some of the most powerfully creepy visuals in Hollywood's history, including animals and props that forced some viewers of 1979's sci-fi film Alien to watch the film through their fingers.

Hans Rudolf Giger was 74; he died in Zurich from injuries suffered in a fall, a representative of the H.R. Giger Museum in Gruyeres, Switzerland, tells the AP.

In a career that spanned decades, Giger reflected humanity's increasingly close (and sometimes fearful) relationship with machines, creating work that seamlessly melds the organic with the mechanical. Wired magazine has said he merged "sex, tech, legend."

His unique style helped the Swiss artist win an Oscar for his work on Alien.

Writing about how that style developed, Wired reported that in Chur, Switzerland, Giger lived "an idyllic childhood in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But it harbored forbidding structures and estranged elements that left an impression on a child subjected to night terrors and panic attacks."

Giger's unique aesthetic also inspired a Giger Bar in Tokyo; another opened up in his hometown.

As the website io9 reports, Giger "became a concept designer for movies like Species, Poltergeist 2, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune, and even Batman Forever (although his Batmobile design wasn't used, unfortunately)."

Giger's work also included album covers, as the AP notes:

"Giger's vision of a human skull encased in a machine appeared on the cover of Brain Salad Surgery, a 1973 album by the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Along with his design for Debbie Harry's solo album, Koo Koo (1981), it featured in a 1991 Rolling Stone magazine list of the top 100 album covers of all time."

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