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Until Cryonics Do Us Apart is a design project for individuals in a specific situation -- cryonics. Inspired by a story of a couple whose the hushand wants to be cryonically preserved, while the wife strongly disagree with it. I decided to design a ritual and an main object of the ritual for the wife.

There are ways of speaking about dying that very much annoy Peggy Jackson, an affable and rosy-cheeked hospice worker in Arlington, Va. She doesn’t like the militant cast of “lost her battle with,” as in, “She lost her battle with cancer.” She is similarly displeased by “We have run out of options” and “There is nothing left we can do,” when spoken by doctor to patient, implying as these phrases will that hospice care is not an “option” or a “thing” that can be done. She doesn’t like these phrases, but she tolerates them. The one death-related phrase she will not abide, will not let into her house under any circumstance, is “cryonic preservation,” by which is meant the low-temperature preservation of human beings in the hope of future resuscitation. That this will be her husband’s chosen form of bodily disposition creates, as you might imagine, certain complications in the Jackson household.

“You have to understand,” says Peggy, who at 54 is given to exasperation about her husband’s more exotic ideas. “I am a hospice social worker. I work with people who are dying all the time. I see people dying All. The. Time. And what’s so good about me that I’m going to live forever?”

The provenance of this disagreement remains somewhat hazy, as neither Peggy nor her husband, Robin Hanson, can remember quite when he first announced his intention to have his brain surgically removed from his freshly vacated cadaver and preserved in liquid nitrogen. It would have been decades ago, before the two were married and before the births of their two teenage sons. With the benefit of hindsight, Robin, who is 50 and an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, will acknowledge that he should have foreseen at least some initial discomfort on the part of his girlfriend, whom he met when they were both graduate students at the University of Chicago. “I was surprised by her response,” he recalls, “but that’s because I am a nerd and not good at predicting these things.”

The initial idea I had from the first was to suggest a design for people 'left behind in the present'. The process and technology of cryonics have been basically the same since the idea suggested for the first time, which almost have no guarantee of reverse-cryonics at this stage. Above all, the fact that the husband may come back alive is not important at all for the wife, since he completely leaves her current life. I noticed this interesting relationship between the two about life and death -- who is dying first? who is leaving who? --, and decided to design an object and a ritual, which would have a similar meaning to a funeral.

The object is designed to function as a recorder/player of the wife's last will, as well as have symbolic meanings as a ritualistic object of a very private ritual.

Created with : Wood, LEDs, Acrylic boards, Heat shield film.
©Sangwoo Han – All rights reserved 2011-2020