Cryonics may be a fanciful notion to some and it's certainly an expensive undertaking, but that hasn't stopped a handful of people from having their bodies cryogenically frozen in the hope of being revived in some distant future. Photographer Murray Ballard stepped into the world of cryopreservation with his camera in hand, offering an unusual look at the labs and the people who do the work.

Ballard's The Prospect of Immortality took him to facilities in Detroit, Moscow, Phoenix, Florida, and the UK where patients are cryogenically frozen and then stored. The series, which had a gallery show and has a planned book publication in Spring 2013, shows the facilities, equipment, and occasionally the bodies of the people and pets being preserved, and has people talking as much about their own mortality as about the science behind cryopreservation.

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Wired's Raw File blog recently interviewed Ballard about his photos, and he says that many people are surprised by the homemade appearance of the equipment:

"People have pointed out the contrast between the appearance of the equipment and the ambition of the concept," says Ballard. "The cryonicists design and build a lot of the equipment themselves. I assume many scientists don't worry about the aesthetics of their equipment, only the science. […] but I have photographed subjects at highly respected research laboratories and I've found that their equipment, in many cases, looks just as DIY."

You can see more photos from the series at Ballard's website and Raw File. There's nothing gory, but there are photos of wrapped up bodies (including a couple below) and cryopreserved animals.

Top photo: Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, by Murray Ballard.

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The Prospect of Immortality [Murray Ballard]
Cryonics Photos Delve Into the Frozen World of the Immortality Faithful [Raw File]

Operating room, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, by Murray Ballard.

Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen), Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Phoenix, Arizona, by Murray Ballard.

Patient #2 before cryopreservation, by Murray Ballard.

Cryostat interior. Kriorus facility, Alabushevo, near Moscow, Russia, by Murray Ballard.