When Alien hit theaters in 1979, the monster on screen was unlike anything moviegoers had ever seen. The film's deadly, parasitic Xenomorph was terrifying and grotesque, yet graceful and stunning. "I always wanted my alien to be a very beautiful thing, something aesthetic," production designer H.R. Giger has said of his creation. "A monster isn't just something disgusting; it can have a kind of beauty." Giger, a Swiss artist known as much for his darkly surreal paintings as for his cinematic work, is the subject of a new video essay that explores how his background in design informed not just the appearance of Alien's titular interstellar stowaway, but the look, feel, and pacing of the film, itself.
H.R. Giger's art is literally the stuff of nightmares. For most of his life, the Swiss artist, whose morbid artistry informed the look and feel of the entire Alien franchise, suffered from debilitating night terrors. And Giger was an expert in translating his fears into beauty. "He worked through his horrors, and you feel that," says Andreas Hirsch, an art historian who has written an essay in Taschen's new $900 monograph of Giger's work, Mythologies For the Future. The book is a jumbo-sized tribute to Giger's body of art (400 15 20-inch pages filled with his designs), and proof that his talent extended far beyond his work on the Xenomorphic elements of Ridley Scott's seminal sci-horror film.
Much of today's hype around artificial intelligence (AI) is concentrated in a few areas: enabling futuristic applications like self-driving cars, helping conversational interfaces like chatbots come to life, and making business more efficient and predictable. But in this episode of "Behind The Numbers," we focus on how AI is being used to spur creativity in areas like art, music and storytelling. The podcast kicks off with a new intro song--at least for this episode. The song, titled "Daddy's Car," is unique because it was generated by AI from Sony's Computer Science Research Lab in Paris and arranged by a human composer, Benoît Carré. Much of the track is generated from suite of Sony's AI tools called Flow Machines, which is trained from around 13,000 existing compositions across a variety of styles.
The best science fiction movies use costumes, models and physical props to sell their vision of the future. Alien, for instance, would be nothing without the compression suits worn by its ill-fated crew outside the Nostromo. From June 3rd, the Barbican Centre in London will be celebrating these movies and the staggering work that went into them through a new exhibition called'Into the Unknown.' Walk down its dark, curving corridor and you'll find original spacesuits from Alien, Moon, Sunshine and Star Trek, as well as original Darth Vader and Stormtrooper helmets from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Delve deeper and you'll see the black, monolithic TARS robot from Interstellar, the humanoid Sonny from I, Robot and the smiling Twiki from the 1970s TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. They're flanked by manuscripts, concept art and other intriguing props -- one cabinet hides a metal chair designed by H. R. Giger for Alejandro Jodorowsky's unreleased film adaption of Dune.
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