Atomic Child und Biomachanic: HR Gigers Posthuman Creatures

SESSION C.1: Artist Talk: Time, Space, Matter
Day 2. Friday, 28th October.
16:00 – 18:00
Venue: CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona

The artist HR Giger (1940-2014) is famous for his grotesque creatures. Thereby, his monsters can not only be understood as a modern horror show, but as a visual expression of complex mental experiments, conducted to explore some conceivable effects of modern sciences on the development and overcoming of the human condition. In his cycle “We Atomic Children” (1963) Giger reflects the destructive power of nuclear technology, while presenting a futuristic race of deformed creatures after a fictive atomic fallout, whose bodies are partly supplemented by prostheses. Man and technology form an indissoluble whole, which generates the artistic nucleus of Gigers latter creations. His “Biomechanics” (1964-2014) are an indexical trace of a fictive technological disaster as well, but they don’t need no prostheses anymore, as the cataclysm erased all the sets of contrasts, such as man and technology, individual and species, or figure and landscape, by melting everything together in one proliferative organism. Thereby the corps of the old human world turns into the embryo of a new posthuman one. As an aesthetical device, transferring human into posthuman, Giger uses the visual cypher of the monster to ban a modern “wild terror” (Blumenberg, Arbeit am Mythos, 1979) arising from technology by its power to change the basic conditions of life. In Gigers works the monster is not banned by its traditional defeat by a hero (Cohan, Monster Theory, 1996). but by its staging as the next step in a technological advanced evolution. Thereby, something considered to be monstrous in the present world becomes the new normal in a fictive future. The presentation will scrutinize Gigers strategies of staging such a transgression from a ,conditio humana’ to a ,conditio monstrosa’, in the context of posthumanist discourses (Haraway, Cyborg Manifesto, 1998), and analyze its evaluation as a rather utopic and/or dystopic fiction, reflecting modern fears and wishes.

Kerstin Borchhardt
Leipzig University

Dr. des. Kerstin Borchhardt, art historian, works as a research assistant at the chair of art history at Leipzig University. Her studies are focussed on the reception of ancient mythology in modern art, Arnold Böcklin, animals in art, transhumanism, modern “monster-theories” and mythopoethical structures in American superhero comics. Phd theses: Bestiarium Böcklinanium: Mythos und Evolution im Werk Arnold Böcklins, Jena (DE) 2013.

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