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‘Futurists’ Portraits Prove That Cyborgs, Telepathy, and Virtual Worlds Are No Longer the Stuff of Science Fiction

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Neil Harbisson is widely considered to be the worlds first officially recognised cyborg. Born with a rare form of colour blindness, the antenna is implanted directly into his brain and allows him to hear visible and invisible colours as sound. It also has a wifi connection so he can receive music or phone calls and even colors from satellites and extraterrestrial colors from space directly to the brain.

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DIY brain hacker Andrew Vladimirov uses electrical currents, magnetic fields and lasers to alter his moods and state of mind.

“I’ve met a man who can receive information from outer space directly to his brain,” says London-based photographer David Vintiner, who, over the course of his series Futurists, has in many ways been documenting various possible futures for mankind. The man he mentioned is Neil Harbisson, an artist, activist… and cyborg, who at the age of twenty one, had an antenna permanently implanted into his skull. For the photographer, Harbisson is just the beginning; Futurists features a wide array of men and women who, through their careers or hobbies, are working to push technology to its limits, all in the name of a better future.

Vintiner and his longtime collaborator, art director Gemma Fletcher, met their subjects through the London Futurists, a network that hosts monthly meetings for amateurs and professionals alike. A futurist can be an academic, a scientist, an economist, a politician, and more; according to the Association of Professional Futurists, individual community members can work in a wide variety of fields. The job of a futurist is to think long-term, to analyze data and trends from the past and present to construct any number of possibilities for the future of a specific industry, for mankind, or the planet as a whole. Once all the possible outcomes are determined, the futurist works to create a roadmap for success, to do everything within their power to ensure the best fate for generations to come.

Although not all of the futurists with whom Vintiner and Fletcher worked are professionals, they all share a passion for the betterment of mankind through innovation and new technologies. Futurists aren’t fortune tellers; they can’t foresee what’s to come, but they can direct their energies towards guiding the course of human evolution. Most were eager to be involved, to be photographed, and to spread the word about the extraordinary things they’re accomplishing.

For the photographer, the subject has been a source of endless fascination. Where most photo shoots place the power in the person behind the camera, Vintiner has also had the rare opportunity to be on the receiving end of his sitters’ own devices. During one session, he explains that he was able to use virtual reality technologies to experience what it would be like to be, as he puts it, “inside myself as a child looking back at myself as an adult.” He’s also been invited to have electrical currents sent into his brain, but still he craves more. Futurists is now on-going, and Vintiner’s always on the lookout for new subjects.

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Anders Sandberg is Currently a James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. A futurist and Transhumanist, Sandberg’s research centers on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology.

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Caroline Falconer has created a virtual reality program for treating people suffering from depression.

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Virtual reality tracking points.

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Virtual reality software

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Andrew Vladimirov

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Dirk Bruere is party secretary of The Transhumanist Party, a political party that put science, health & technolgy at the forefront of politics.

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Tiana Sinclair

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Tiana Sinclair operating a thought controlled drone.

All images © David Vintiner

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