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

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