Faith in -196C: pioneers of resurrection – a photo essay – Giuseppe Nucci

Olga Levitskaya, 24 years old trans-humanist and neuro-biologist, after a fundraising event hold in the cosmonauts’ museum, to support the development of the cybersuite

Neurobiologist and transhumanist Olga Levitskaya, 24, pictured in Moscow, is among those who believe that, through science, humans will reverse death. Photograph: Giuseppe Nucci The Guardian picture essay

Faith in -196C: pioneers of resurrection – a photo essay

The photographer Giuseppe Nucci meets the cosmists and pioneers of transhumanism who make up the first cryopreservation society in Eurasia. Its storage conserves more than 80 bodies from around the world with the aim of bringing them back to life in the futureby

In Moscow at the end of the 19th century a librarian of poor origins started reflecting on how future human beings, raising themselves from a condition of conflict and divisiveness, would eventually be able to defeat evil and death through a technological and cultural revolution. His name was Nikolai Fedorovich Fedorov. In the long run, the philosopher’s beliefs permeated Russian culture, inspiring scientists, mystics and artists who shared a peculiar, spiritual-philosophic doctrine later known as cosmism.

Moscow, Russian Federation, December 2017. In the musem-library named after Fedorov, some cosmists prepare celebrations on the occasion of the anniversary of Svetlana Semenova’s death. During the years, this place has represented the very heart of the Russian cosmist movement, and is to these days engaged in promoting and developing Fedorov’s ideas and thought.
In the museum library named after Fedorov, cosmists prepare to mark the anniversary of the death, in 2014, of Svetlana Semenova, a leading researcher into Fedorov’s works, whose DNA has been preserved. The library, seen as the heart of the Russian cosmist movement, is engaged in promoting and developing Fedorov’s ideas and thought.
Cosmists during the annual meeting on the occasion of the anniversary of Svetlana Semenova’s death.
Left, cosmists during the annual meeting on the anniversary of Semenova’s death. Right, Misha Ivanov and Elena Milova, two delegates at a conference on anti-ageing.
Anastasia Gracheva, activist of the Russian Cosmist Movement
Semenova’s daughter, Anastasia Gracheva, a Russian cosmist activist, studies objects in the museum. Her mother’s body is preserved by the cryopreservation society KrioRus with the aim of bringing her back to life some time in the future.

Fedorov’s ideas have been spread by Russian cosmists, whose thoughts have merged into a wider international philosophic movement known as transhumanism.

Alexey Samykin and Igor Trapeznikov – activists of the Russian transhumanist movement – inside Kriorus headquarter during the making of the company documentary by the German channel Galileo.
Two transhumanist activists, Alexey Samykin and Igor Trapeznikov, pictured at the KrioRus headquarters during the making of a documentary by the German channel Galileo.
Alexey Samykin and Igor Trapeznikov activists of the Russian Transhumanist movement inside Kriorus headquarter during a Cryopreservation exhibition for a documentary about the company by the German channel Galileo. Bodies’ cryopreservation costs about 35.000 USD while brains’ cryopreservation costs about 18.000 USD. Cryopreservation of humans is not reversible with present technology; cryonicists hope that medical advances will someday allow cryopreserved people to be revived.

Transhumanism is a cultural movement that encourages scientific and technological discoveries to enhance human physical and cognitive capacities. It believes that a future most people dismiss as science fiction is just around the corner. Transhumanists say that by 2045, humanity will experience “singularity”, a theory predicting human and artificial intelligence can be fused.

Filippo Polistena, founder of the Polistena Human Cryopreservation, and his collaborators prepare the body of a cryopatient to be sent to Russia in a cemetery in Bologna, Italy, November 2017. Kriorus is making numerous deals outside of Russia to promote the practice of hybernation and carries out directly the training of collaborators.
Filippo Polistena, founder of the KrioRus subsidiary Polistena Human Cryopreservation company, and colleagues, prepare the body of a client in Bologna, Italy, to be sent to Russia. KrioRus is making numerous deals outside Russia to promote ‘hybernation’.
One of Kriorus’ technicians about to enter the cooling chamber before the immersion into liquid nitrogen. In the cooling chamber the bodies are covered with dry ice to homogeneously drop body temperature to -78C. The use of the mask is mandatory, because the carbon dioxide vapours produced by sublimation can cause asphyxia.
A KrioRus technician prepares to enter a cooling chamber, where bodies are covered with dry ice in order to drop their temperature to an initial -78C. The mask is necessary to guard against asphyxiation by the carbon dioxide vapours in the chamber.
During the twice-a-week storage maintenance, Ivan Stepin, deputy director of Kriorus and member of the transhumanist moment, waits for the end of the storage filling.
Ivan Stepin, deputy director of KrioRus and member of the transhumanist moment, waiting for twice-a-week storage maintenance to be completed.

Russian transhumanists established KrioRus, the first cryopreservation society in Eurasia, in 2003. Today it conserves 81 human bodies, from Russia, the US, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and Australia, as well as animals. It is based in Sergiev Posad, a residential neighbourhood more than two hours north of Moscow.

Outside a liquid nitrogen and dry ice factory called Pole of Cold at the periphery of Moscow during stockpiling operations. This company was founded by Russian transhumanists Eugeny Zimin and Andrey Shvedko, who previously worked for Kriorus. The cost of liquid nitrogen is about 10 rubles (£0.1) per litre while the cost of dry ice is higher, about 80 rubles (£0.8) per kg.
Outside the liquid nitrogen and dry ice factory Pole of Cold, on the periphery of Moscow.

Signing a contract to be cryopreserved is an act of faith in scientific research, whose progress in the fields of life extension and medicine make some people believe that humanity is inexorably heading towards immortality. While awaiting technological their hoped for resurrection, the bodies of KrioRus’s clients float in storage units at a temperature of -196C.

With death many people’s greatest fear, cosmists and transhumanists can offer a seductive myth of immortality.

Faith in -196C: pioneers of resurrection – a photo essay – Giuseppe Nucci

Permanecia Voluntaria – recovered Mexican pop film

There was also a time when people would sit in the aisles so they could dance along with the musical numbers.

A poster for the film Santo v the Evil Brain
“In the beginning, the biggest challenge was the disdain for popular cinema,” says García Besné.

“I’ve heard important people say that these films should have been burned. What I tried to do was put these films in the proper context and explain why they were made and why people wanted to see this kind of cinema.

“It’s about getting people to see things through different eyes. Mexico is a very class-ridden country, and we’re very used to saying, ‘Well, that’s not worth much’, or, ‘That’s just rubbish.’”

A poster for La mujer murcielago (The Batwoman)
Permanecia Voluntaria – recovered Mexican pop film

Phuong Tâm – nhac kich dong (action music)

Magical Nights compiles recordings from 1964 to 1966, her final years singing. It is a testament to Vietnam’s embrace of rock. The music initially trickled into the French high schools, a legacy of colonial rule, then later via the Americans – a growing presence since the 1950s, as the Vietnam war escalated. In South Vietnam, performing foreign music was permitted but recording it was not, given that all cultural products were vetted by the authorities. But the influence of foreign music could not be quashed, so composers began writing Vietnamese songs in styles including the twist, surf, hully gully and mashed potato. All this music was known locally as nhac kich dong (action music).

Magical Nights: Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul 1964-1966 is out now on Sublime Frequencies

Phuong Tâm – nhac kich dong (action music)


Yet, despite her predilection for pushing boundaries, Yano remains remarkably unassuming about her early work. Was it radical to be self-producing her albums? No, not really, she just thought it would be easier that way. Was it unusual to use an ARP synthesiser in 1976 (a year before it appeared on David Bowie’s Low)? She shrugs and says she never really thought about it.


Premonition: the tone of my voice is my weapon of choice

From Lynche’s version of Dune, Fatboy Slim borrows the line Paul mumbles to Jessica when fleeing through the desert – “walk without rhythm, and it won’t attract the worm”. Thanks to John Perich for that info:

Watkens brilliance wells deserves its remastering, as does Jonze’s direction, as a worthy recalled, ‘side show’ of Villeneuve’s Dune.

Premonition: the tone of my voice is my weapon of choice

power to the tuba!

such a refreshing take, not without great wit and humor, on the subaltern, and the history and politics of ID. it’s fun to speculate, wildly perhaps, that the ‘Your’ of the title takes an aim at the Ludwig Göransson/Kendrick Lamar composition/production of soundtrack, Black Panther: The Album, which was released on February 9, 2018; while, Son’s of Kemet release this album a month later, in March. But alas, this fantasy falls quickly to the more obvious postcolonial reference – Your Queen is obviously Elizabeth the second, with the added reference to the lizard people of the reptilian conspiracy theory of David Icke in which shapeshifting aliens assume human form and rule the earth. To state the obvious then: Queen Elizabeth is an Icke-ian alien, thereby reversing the POV of the colonists narrative. “My Queens” are antidotes to that, or, are they?

Track listing

  1. “My Queen Is Ada Eastman” – 6:41
  2. “My Queen Is Mamie Phipps Clark” – 5:31
  3. “My Queen Is Harriet Tubman” – 5:40
  4. “My Queen Is Anna Julia Cooper” – 5:07
  5. “My Queen Is Angela Davis” – 6:35
  6. “My Queen Is Nanny of the Maroons” – 6:44
  7. “My Queen Is Yaa Asantewaa” – 7:04
  8. “My Queen Is Albertina Sisulu” – 5:20
  9. “My Queen Is Doreen Lawrence” – 6:52

note: Ada Eastman, was Hutchings’s great grandmother from Barbados.

power to the tuba!

Robert Reich on spontaneous ‘general strike’: 4 million Americans/month quit jobs

The media failed to report the big story, which is actually a very good one: American workers are now flexing their muscles for the first time in decades. You might say workers have declared a national general strike until they get better pay and improved working conditions.

My take: workers are reluctant to return to or remain in their old jobs mostly because they’re burned out. Some have retired early. Others have found ways to make ends meet other than remain in jobs they abhor. Many just don’t want to return to backbreaking or mind-numbing low-wage shit jobs.
The media and most economists measure the economy’s success by the number of jobs it creates, while ignoring the quality of those jobs. That’s a huge oversight.

Workers are fed up, wiped out, done-in, and run down. In the wake of so much hardship, illness and death during the past year, they’re not going to take it anymore.

Corporate America wants to frame this as a “labor shortage.” Wrong. What’s really going on is more accurately described as a living-wage shortage, a hazard pay shortage, a childcare shortage, a paid sick leave shortage, and a healthcare shortage. Unless these shortages are rectified, many Americans won’t return to work anytime soon. I say it’s about time.

That’s the good news. The hidden consequences are also good news: higher ‘unemployment’ means lower consumption means lower carbon costs to the environment. The pandemic together with the free money from the American Recovery Act; the realization of just how rigged the economy is and of who benefits from it; that the government can in fact with ease and even efficiency provide a basic universal income, without exploitation of labor; the taste for security, leisure, lack of stress, time with family and friends despite isolation; and perhaps, simply a radical shift in what’s considered ‘normal’; has opened up a space for a protean new political consciousness.

The bad news is that of course it will not last. All the powers of exploitative capital that govern ‘normalization processes’ will return perhaps at a slightly higher wage, with perhaps for some, a few more bones in the shape of benefits thrown in. Those participating in the spontaneous ‘general strike’ will be lured back into the belly of the beast and lulled again into the torpor of normalcy. Their momentary political ‘enlightenment’ will be reconsidered as merely a fantasy or momentary lapse in good, pragmatic judgment; for, whatever glimpse of enlightenment they may have attained will soon be reconsidered as a betrayal of duty to family, party, country – which are essentially simply scale shifts in the same structure that maintain the power of the social Darwinist elite. And for those who attempt to hold onto the vision of a better life beyond capital, Capital will devise ways to hunt them down and either force their compliance, or ruin them.

Reich’s liberalism will be the tool by which that happens, in the form of an inevitably compromised, scaled down to bare knuckles version of remedying the list of shortages that need addressing to bind them again to Capital’s devastating, mind-numbing, managerial, accountant’s conception of ‘life’.

Robert Reich on spontaneous ‘general strike’: 4 million Americans/month quit jobs

Hope for the future: Nandi Bushell + Roman Morello

During lockdown, you taught your son Roman to play guitar and he ended up collaborating with the 11-year-old drummer and internet sensation Nandi Bushell. How did that come about?
They wrote the song, I produced it. Nandi is spectacular – an effervescent soul of joy that the world needs now more than ever. She called up and asked if I wanted to do a song, and I said: “I’d love to, but I’ve got a kid here who’s your age who really can take it from here!” So I said to Roman: “Throw some riffs at me, man”, and he came up with a couple of hot riffs. I put an arrangement together and sent it to Nandi, and asked her what she thought. She said: “It sounds epic!” like she does. And she wrote the lyrics and played the drums on it – she just murdered it, she’s so great. One of the best drummers in the world happens to be 11 years old! It was a reminder of why you started, you know? It was pure joy, pure excellence, pure rock’n’roll.

This video is part of Bushell’s work as the current Cartoon Network musician-in-residence and is a collaboration with the nonprofit Fridays For Future Brazil and England, branches of the global youth climate movement started by Thunberg.

Hope for the future: Nandi Bushell + Roman Morello

authenticity/expertise – irony – in the words of Yangyang Cheng

well articulated, unacknowledged, ubiquitous problem, to be furthered:

It took me a long time to see through the myth of meritocracy, that no learning field is created equal. The ability to train and gain a foreign tongue, like many other prized possessions in life, is often reliant on privilege.

I’m reminded of that episode each time I hear the debate in professional circles and on social media over the thorny issue of whether one needs to know Chinese to be an “expert” on China. Some claim it as a prerequisite. Others point out that language is but one skill among many. The exchange quickly devolves from the professional to the personal, with a good dose of envy and insecurity in the mix.

My first impulse is to laugh, immediately followed by a feeling of sadness as I recognise that on the other side of the seemingly absurd question is a painful reality – that one needs to know English to know China. English-language publications in China are accorded more leniency from censorship (even if that space is shrinking). It’s only from foreign shores and through a foreign tongue that I’ve been able to access the forbidden archives of my native land. English, the language of privilege and exclusion, can also be the language of mobility and emancipation.

As China develops from an impoverished backwater into the world’s second largest economy, many in the west have looked to it as fertile ground for promising careers. Their passion is not in Chinese history or culture, at least not as a priority. To the corporate elite, China is a market to be mined. To the security expert, China is a threat to be addressed. To the politicians and pundits, China is a “problem” to be solved. The lives and wellbeing of Chinese people, affected by policies, rhetoric and business deals, barely register in these discussions. Knowledge of the local language becomes irrelevant when the natives are presumed silent.

Yanyang Cheng

‘China-watching’ is a lucrative business. But whose language do the experts speak?

Wed 13 Jan 2021

note: Cheng before the ellipsis is spot on; after, naive. not that she’s wrong, but her own nationalism, or is her US otherness, creeps in and supposes that the way non-Chinese experts see China is any different than the way they see their fellow citizens… US or British protesters, protesters across the world, are seen merely as problems of the all the same types as those she mentions, and not as people with lives. the irony in this case is that Cheng might have applied more of what i assume, perhaps erroneously, was her marxist education.

she is in line with but could use some tips from Derrida’s Monolingualism.

but this is relatively small criticism – her lucidity is powerful, even is expressing well plied linguistic territory.

as here, in another, more recent Guardian article:

In the prevalent narratives about China, the central government is an almighty monster embarking on world domination, imbued with ancient foresight and effortlessly expressing its will through the vast bureaucracy of government. Public expression in China is either protest or propaganda, and the people are either helpless victims or mindless foot-soldiers of state oppression.

Cheng’s analysis, again, in kind and in terms of the last sentence’s specifics, is a description of the complete aporia between the Republican and Democratic parties, and of both party’s description of the ‘left’, and even, of ‘liberal progressives’ like the stupidly named, Squad. [Were it true they had superhero powers… rather than easy to assimilate ones…]

Cheng’s writing’s move me to write her brief letter with a suggestion/request/plea:

dear doc yangyang,

i’ve had the pleasure of reading several of your articles, most recently in the Guardian. I appreciate the lucity of your arguments, and the undercurrent of genuine concern and care, for people.di

In particular of late, I love the ironies you described about the privilege of languages,  “that one needs to know English to know China.”

I would say the principles of my politics, not the same as the pragmatics of my politics, align with Marxism. Pragmatically, honestly, as a 64 years old, white American male currently living in Mexico, I’m not sure. 

I’m still guided by Benjamin, I suppose; by his rather dire long term historical view that, to paraphrase, ‘just because things have been bad for a 1000 years doesn’t mean they will improve anytime soon…’

I completely concur that US and other western powers have long, simplistically and absurdly, demonized China. Oversimplification is what the US does as a power strategy, in part because much of its critique of ‘non-democratic’ powers, particularly of the ‘communist’ kind, leave it wide open to charges of hypocrisy, even complicity. yet, these charges are rarely ever brought. Power can only survive when there is struggle, when there is a perceived enemy, and which allows the principles of democracy to forever be deferred, a lesson the Romans learned and kept the military in charge because of real and imagined threats, for more than 200 years.

So China and the US need each other as enemies and choose to dance agonistically together in public to maintain control over their subjected subjects, and their respective portions of the economic pie.

All to say, why is it that a comparative analysis of applied policies of oppression of their own peoples never sees the light of day? How difficult would it be to draw up the list of all the reasons the US cites to demonize China, and match it with all the same reasons to demonstrate how the US oppresses it’s own people?

As it was during the Cold War period, the US and the USSR were mirror reflections of each other. Today, Putin would like that to be true, and to a degree it is, but geopolitics has shifted East, as you know better than I. 

But… the agonistic dance, and the comparative list of equally dastardly deeds on both sides, needs desperately I think, to be exposed publicly, in the pages and data streams of the newspapers you write for with such persuasion. 

The mystification that the US is a democracy, free of human rights abuses, a land of equal opportunity, where free speech is unfettered, free of censorship and propaganda, free of oppression of its own citizens, free of reeducation camps, etc… That mythology needs to be punctured. Just as does the mythology that China is a communist country that is only authoritarian with no interest in furthering it’s on internal domestic wellbeing. 

That binary must be exposed as the simplistic strategy of propaganda used to maintain the power elite, that it is. 

You have the authority and the platform, the expertise and the sensibility, to do that. As far as I know, no book length work of scholarship exists that does that. Such a book would be a great contribution to the future. But more importantly, to be pragmatically effective, the comparison needs to reach the public, persuasively.

I for one would like to see you do both things. 

authenticity/expertise – irony – in the words of Yangyang Cheng