Friday, September 20, 2013

A Surreal Kit For Surviving An Apocalypse


The Shenu: Hydrolemic System is a set of conceptual organs that minimize loss of hydration, allowing humans to consume less water altogether. Image: Naohiro Tsukada.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the end of the world came and we were all just gone? Maybe it sounds defeatist, but just think how easy things would be if our impending apocalyptic event happened and we simply disappeared. There’d be no need to rebuild, no need to struggle, no need to adapt our bodies to a forever-altered environment. Of course, no one really knows what kind of world-ending event will occur or how we humans will react, but there’s been plenty of speculation on the subject anyway. One of the more elaborate scenarios dreamt up is from Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho, who in their recent project News From Nowhere envision a world on the brink of annihilation thanks to a cataclysmic series of events, both man-made and natural. In this world, the sea level rises and radioactive emissions are released, leaving the remaining water non-potable. To save the world, the artists took a multidisciplinary approach, asking architects, engineers and designers to imagine how life could go on in this dystopian land.

They tasked designers from Japanese design firm Takram with creating a new water bottle that addresses the newfound scarcity of water. Instead of reinventing the standard water holder, the designers got creative. Really creative. “It was a catch-22,” says Kaz Yoneda of Takram. “OK, so you want us to design a water bottle, but there’s not going to be much water to begin with, so how do you deal with that?” Apparently by creating a hyper-futuristic set of artificial organs that are meant to increase the efficiency of our bodies’ hydration system. Functionality-wise, the organs are similar to “stillsuits,” the water-recycling bodysuits worn in the sci-fi series Dune that helped inhabitants maximize body moisture retention in the harsh desert environment. “It became less about how to store water, since there would be very little left,” he says. “And more about how to preserve the hydration that’s already in our bodies.”

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