Cryogenics, Robot Dinos, and Other Visions of the Future
The Italian photographer spent 15 months traveling the world documenting glimpses of the future for his series Surviving Humanity. The trip took him to eight countries, where he saw researchers attempting to bring back the wooly mammoth, atmospheric scientists firing lasers into clouds, and a big bubble that simulates life on Mars. “Reading news every day about climate change, migrants, wars, I understand that the future is not so clear,” says Giuliani. “I tried to understand what we are doing as human beings to face these challenges.”
His journey started in January, 2016, when his girlfriend’s 10-year-old son asked what the world might be like when he grew up. “Instead of saying something without any real meaning, I started to ask myself how it would be,” Giuliani says. He started googling companies and laboratories working to preserve or prepare humanity for the next few millennia. Then he started reading scientific journals, chatting with professors, and begging these places to let him in with a camera.
So far, he’s visited 14 locations around the world. He made the long trek to the Svalbard archipelago to see the Global Seed Vault, which contains 880,000 seed samples from 234 countries to protect the world’s plants from a doomsday scenario. He photographed the stunning 164-foot-high dome of the Eden Project biosphere in Devonshire, England, which houses a rainforest with 1,185 varieties of plants. He strolled the halls of the Sooam Biotech company in Seoul, South Korea, where scientists will clone a pet for only $100,000.
He found the NASA HI-SEAS project, which simulates life on the Red Planet, a bit silly. “These ‘astronauts’ spend half a year growing lettuce like on Mars, but you know that after a half an hour driving, you’re eating an ice cream by the beach,” he says. On the other hand, the Alcoa Life Extension Foundation cryogenics facility, where enormous cylinders hold as many as eight bodies apiece, each of them awaiting the future—struck him as creepy. “These people believe they are just in stand-by, but to me, you are in a cemetery,” he says.
Giuliani hopes to eventually document luxury bunkers where the wealthy will live out the apocalypse, and perhaps even a head transplant. It all feels really surreal, and a bit frightening. “The extinction of animals, of landscapes—we must change many things about our lives, it will be difficult,” he says. “I’m not sure that I will have those skills.” No one knows quite what the future holds, but rest assured, Giuliani will have his camera ready.