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A Tokyo Design Firm Made Artificial Human Organs for the Post-Apocalypse

Get your post-apocalyptic water-recycling gear while it lasts.
Images: takram design engineering

Once that great apocalyptic event—contagion, climate change, nuclear holocaust, zombies, whatever—drowns out the huddled masses of humanity, we can take solace in at least one thing: those who remain will have no shortage of suggestions from art and pop culture as to how best to carry on.

If it's a zombie scenario, they could, for instance, go Walking Dead and form a scrappy band and shack up in a prison. If it's disease, they could hack their bodies, adding Matt-Damon-in-Elysium-style cyborg arm implants to do combat with the rich. If it's rising sea levels, they could follow one Tokyo design firm's advice, and outfit themselves with artificial organs designed to make the human body more water-efficient.


What you're looking at above is a pile of the freshly designed artificial organs, ostensibly conceived to increase the human body's capacity for conserving water in resource-scarce, post-apocalyptic environs. The project came about when two South Korean artists, Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho, asked the noted Japanese designer Kaz Yoneda, of the renowned takram design engineering, to build a water bottle for the grimmest sort of future—one where the world was "Afflicted by manmade causes, the rising sea level, radioactive emissions and release of hazardous materials into the environment."

Moon and Jeon were, according to their statement, working on a project "to bring together designers, architects and big thinkers to envision life in a catastrophic, post-apolcalyptic future." So instead of designing a water bottle, Kaz went cyberpunk. Once he realized how scarce water would be in a world ravaged by disaster in the climate-changed future, he upgraded his ambitions, and put together something called the Shenu: Hydrolemic System.

In his team's words, here's how it works: "A set of artificial organs that work together to minimize intake and regulate water loss so that people with these organs can consume less water to survive.  This includes: nasal cavity inserts to inhibit water loss through exhalation; a urine concentrator; a renal dehydrator; and a heat irradiant neck collar."

Put it all on, and the future apocalypse survivors will look something like this:


The end result is sort of a 21st century, post-collapse moisture-recycling survivalist cyberpunk aesthetic. If I do say so myself. It's like Paul Atreides and the Fremen took to the Road. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is about to open an exhibition of the team's work, and it features the first-ever stateside showing for the Korean artists.

Here's a breakdown of the conceptual tech, piece by piece. First up, here's the requisitely nefarious-looking steel briefcase that contains all the organ parts.

These will be toted by the leather-clad agents of the underworld militias that have inevitably arisen to fill the power vacuum. And, of course, scrappy heroes who've managed to get ahold of a couple.

Here are "Rubedo candies," the hard-shelled candies from which you'll draw your moisture.

"Five of these contain the new daily-required intake of nutrients and 32 mL of water," takram explains.

And of course, your nasal cavity inserts.

"The moist air from the lungs is condensed here and returned upon inhalation." Why didn't we think of that.

You're also going to need a heat irradiant neck collar, naturally.

This will convert "the electrical energy generated by the exchangers back into heat and radiate it through polymicroporous titanium grills."

Here's where things get a little gross. Because, well, post-apocalyptic living isn't pretty. So let's say it bluntly: you're going to need to recycle your urine and feces. NASA is working on something like this, so takram ran with it.


Those friendly-looking devices are a "hydrolemic bladder"—a "microcosmic water filtration and uric concentration plant"—and a "Renal Fecular Dehydrator." Which, just: "Located in rectal ampulla, the dehydrator works to elongate fecal duration in the large intestine and squeeze out any remaining water."

There you have it. Your complete set moisture-recycling wearable gear for the end times.

News from Nowhere: Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho from SAIC on Vimeo.

The designs are to be showcased in the News from Nowhere: Chicago Laboratory exhibit that's about to open at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It might be worth checking out if you plan on weathering the storm.