£35 / €45 / $55
Published April 2016
216 x 280 mm (portrait)
“Would you like to live forever and ever, here on earth? In the near future this may become a real possibility. The Prospect of Immortality is a sober, scientific, and logical argument founded on the undeniable fact: that a body deep-frozen stands a better chance of being revived than of one rotting in the ground; and that many people who died fifty or a hundred years ago of ‘incurable’ diseases would today be cured.” Robert C. W. Ettinger, The Prospect of Immortality
In 1962, Robert C. W. 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. Photographer Murray Ballard has undertaken a ten year extensive investigation into the practice Ettinger inspired.
The photographs in this new book document 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, Ballard has tried to 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.
Murray Ballard (b.1983) is a photographer born and based in Brighton, UK. He graduated from the University of Brighton in 2007 with a degree in Photography. His first solo exhibition, The Prospect of Immortality, was held at Impressions Gallery, Bradford (2011), before touring to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland as part of the exhibition Moral Holiday (2012), the Centro Cultural de Espana in Mexico City for the Transitio_mx 05 festival (2013) and most recently it was shown at Format International Photography Festival in Derby, UK as part of the exhibition Beyond Evidence: an incomplete narratology of photographic truths. Ballard’s work has been published in publications including The British Journal of Photography, Esquire, FT Weekend, GEO, GQ, The Guardian, HotShoe, The Independent and Wired.
’The Prospect of Immortality’ is on display at Side Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne, until 31 April 2017.