The Prospect of Immortality

  • Patient storage
    Patient storage
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Phoenix, Arizona, USA. 2009
  • ‘Clearly, the freezer is more attractive than the grave, even if one has doubts about the future capabilities of science. With bad luck, the frozen people will simply remain dead, as they would have in the grave. But with good luck, the manifest destiny of science will be realized, and the resuscitees will drink the wine of centuries unborn. The likely prize is so enormous that even slender odds would be worth embracing.’ Robert C.W. Ettinger

    In 1962, Robert Ettinger published The Prospect of Immortality, the book that gave birth to the idea of ‘cryonics’ – the process of freezing a human body after death in the hope that scientific advances might one day restore life.

    Fifty years later, between 2006 and 2015, I have undertaken an extensive photographic investigation of the practice Ettinger inspired. The photographs take the viewer on a journey through the small but dedicated international cryonics community, from the English seaside retirement town of Peacehaven; through the high-tech laboratories of Arizona; to the rudimentary facilities of KrioRus, on the outskirts of Moscow. Worldwide there are approximately 200 patients stored permanently in liquid nitrogen, with a further two thousand people signed up for cryonics after death.

    The project combines photographs of the technical processes involved, alongside portraits of the people engaged in the quest to overcome the ‘problem of death’. Whilst members have often been ridiculed for their views, I take an objective stance, allowing the viewer to consider the ethics of the practice, and to decide whether members are caught up in a fantasy world of science fiction, or genuine scientific innovation.

    A book of this work will be published in March 2016 by GOST.

  • Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen)
    Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen)
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. October 2006
  • Meeting for new members
    Meeting for new members
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. October 2006
  • Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director
    Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, USA. August 2009
  • Operating room
    Operating room
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. October 2006
  • Hugh Hixon, Facilities Engineer
    Hugh Hixon, Facilities Engineer
    Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. April 2007
  • Bob (practice dummy)
    Bob (practice dummy)
    Cryonics UK, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK. July 2010
  • Frank, standby team training
    Frank, standby team training
    Cryonics UK, Peacehaven, East Sussex, UK. May 2007
  • Transhumanist meeting
    Transhumanist meeting
    KrioRus, Moscow, Russia. February 2010
  • Margaret, holding a photograph of her mother, Ludmila
    Margaret, holding a photograph of her mother, Ludmila
    KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia. September 2010
  • Eugenij Kiselev (left) helps KrioRus technicians hoist his wife
    Eugenij Kiselev (left) helps KrioRus technicians hoist his wife's body into the new cryostat, Kriorus facility, Alabushevo, near Moscow, Russia 2010
    KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia. September 2010
  • Patient #4
    Patient #4
    KrioRus, Alabushevo, Moscow, Russia. September 2010