Patrick Millard is a Michigan based artist who works with different media including photography, painting, mixed media, sound, and installation. He currently works as an adjunct professor of photography at Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College and is a photography instructor at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids.
One of his current photography projects involves cryonics and he hopes to visit other cryonics organizations to continue the project:
Cryonics first began in the late 1960’s as a way to preserve the legally dead with the hope that they will one day be brought back through new technologies with revived youth and health. Patients are cooled to a very low temperature [below -312ºF, -196ºC] with liquid nitrogen and cryopreserved at that temperature in what are called cryostats. It is inside these Hard Shell, Soft Vacuum [HSSV], or Steel Dewar in the case of Alcor, cryostats that the patient will wait out the time necessary to create life extending and reparative medical advances which will allow the rejuvenation and life extension that is desired. The hope is that one day future medicine will not only cure disease, aging, and death for those still living,but also provide the opportunity for those who have been in cryostasis to be brought back to a life and body that has been returned to youth and happiness.
Visit the artist’s website.
Edvard Munch’s painting “Death in the Sick Chamber” (1895) portrays death as expressed through the survivors. A striking aspect of this work is that all the people in the room do not console one another and are physically and emotionally isolated.
In “Modern Art and Death”, Carla Gottlieb writes:
….the faces are contorted, not in mourning for a beloved lost member, but in fear of the unknown which has just swallowed the deceased, fear for themselves who are eventually to meet the same fate. In this agony, each person is alone; each survivor turns away not only from the dead but also from the other participants in the scene. Faced with death, the family bonds fall apart, revealing their superficial character. Thus Munch experienced death as dissolving family ties…
The accompanying black and white lithograph evokes an even bleaker atmosphere, as can be seen in the sunken eyes and grim mouth of the woman facing the viewer.
Munch shows the destabilizing and alienating effects of death. Although the people in the room seem to be at a loss how to proceed in life, there is closure. In cryonics such closure is not available. Cryonics also destabilizes the fabric between people because some may survive and others may not. The idea of cryonics can also produce guilt about loved ones who died and never got the chance. These factors, and not just technical feasibility alone, may explain why cryonics is so unpopular.