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Work / Photography

Murray Ballard explores the strange, myth-filled world of cryogenically freezing people

Worldwide, approximately 200 patients are stored permanently in liquid nitrogen, with a further 2,000 people signed up for cryonics after death. Cryopreservation – the act of freezing your body after you’ve died, with the intention of being brought back to life some day – remains surrounded by myth, intrigue and unshakeable hope.

It was both the process and the people who’ve signed up to the idea that first interested photographer Murray Ballard back in 2006 while he was at university. Since then, over the course of nine years, he’s travelled to multiple states in the USA, Russia, France, Norway and places throughout the UK to get a deeper understanding.

His findings are now part of his series The Prospect of Immortality, which has just been published as a book by London publisher GOST Books. Murray photographed the high-tech labs of Arizona and Russia as well as personal portraits of people “engaged in the quest to overcome the problem of death.” Murray provides an impartial perspective and there’s an honesty in the way he presents his subjects. The series transitions from clinical shots of bizarre equipment to warmer images of those interested or involved in the cryonics, and this builds a bigger narrative.

Murray used a large format camera and 5×4 inch colour negative film to shoot the series. A slower process than using a conventional camera it allowed him to really focus on his subjects and consider what he was photographing. “I think cryonics is a fascinating and extraordinary idea and provokes all sorts of questions about the future of humanity,” says Murray. “What I like about cryonics is that it gives us a vehicle to consider questions about the future. There’s an incredible optimism signing up to cryonics, which I admire.”

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality

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Murray Ballard: The Prospect of Immortality