Collaborations with TAKRAM

Shenu: Hydrolemic System

TAKRAM Seminar

On August 27, 2011, the Japanese design group TAKRAM held a workshop at Mullae Art Space in Seoul. Among other things, TAKRAM wanted to come up with a portable water bottle that could be used in the future and that would have to withstand conditions of the future. This new water bottle would be one that could purify water in a post-apocalyptic world with little drinking water. After pouring in sea water (or otherwise polluted water) into the bottle, it would have the ability to cleanse the water.
TAKRAM proposed a new water purifying system which ideally functions to deal with a post-apocalyptic world and also introduced a new design for future portable devices. Although this project is not aimed at manufacturing a product that functions perfectly right now, it is expected to be a prototype of something that could work in the future. We plan to work with the artists to share a vision for the concept drawings, and later leave the design of the product to the design group. We will also document the creation process to make into a book, with the product design displayed at an exhibition in the future.
This future-oriented item is not just aimed at addressing the future and raising issues about it, but about discussing various things about the present. There is also a goal to examine the practical role of art and to reflect on what vision we should have in today’s world concerning art.

디자인 공학 방법론:

타크람은 지구 멸망 후 새로운 환경, 시스템 그리고 새로운 가치 체계아래 존재하는 설정된 미래의 가상기업이 사용하게 될 물건 중 휴대용 수통을 만드는 일을 제안한다. 우리가 생각하는 휴대용 수통은 세기 말 이후 절대적으로 부족한 식수 공급을 위한 정수 기능이 있는 휴대용 물통으로서, 바닷물이나 기타 오염된 물을 넣었을 때 자체 정수 기능이 있어 걸러진 물을 마실 수 있는 휴대가 가능한 물통이다.
기능적으로 자체 정수 시스템과 새로운 환경을 극복하는 아이디얼한 기능이 탑제된 제품의 컨셉과 제안, 그리고 휴대용(portable)에 대한 새로운 개념의 도출과 디자인을 제안한다. 완벽한 기능의 완제품이 아니라 이러한 가정들과 가능성을 담은 제품디자인 고안, 그것의 제작 과정과 디자인 프로세싱을 보여주는 일련의 과정을 기대한다. 제작 단계에 있어서 컨셉드로잉을 위한 아젠다의 논의와 비전을 공유하기 위한 협업을 작가와 같이 진행하고 이후 하나의 독립적인 제품고안은 디자인팀에 일임하고자 한다. 또한 일련의 진행과정은 도큐멘트하여 책으로 제작되고 소개될 예정이며 실제 전시장에 제품 디자인은 새로운 형태의 엑스포 개념으로 전시될 예정이다.
모든 미래지향적인 설정은 단지 미래에 대한 진단이나 이슈가 목적이 아니라 현 시점의 다양한 아젠다를 논의학기 위한 설정이고, 예술의 실천적 역할 즉 현재의 사회, 세계 속에서 어떤 비전을 가져야 하는지 반성하기 위한 접근 시각이다.

Meeting, Moon Kyungwon, JEON Joonho & TAKRAM

i. Becoming: The Rise of TEMPUS

Towards the end of this Century, the humanity experiences cataclysmic sequence of events that has brought us to the brink of annihilation. Why and how has long faded as the memories of yonder years. Afflicted by both manmade causes and nature’s retributions, the rising sea level, exodus of radioactive
substances and hazardous materials into the environment has made this world inhospitable.
No longer are there any traces of once beautiful Earth abundant with diverse lifeforms, life-replenishing water, vegetations and oxygen. Indeed, the mankind has destroyed its own Garden of Eden out of anthropocentric delusions. The Earth is now a vast sphere of contaminated water - no longer a speck of blue celestial jewel in the Universe - and what were once highest peaks are archipelagos. Together with the pinnacles of tallest skyscrapers that long ago stood proud and mighty like towers of Babel reaching heavenly heights, these remaining masses above-water are now bases for the construction of platforms.
Another aspect of this post-Apocalyptic world is that there are no longer art or culture as we know it. Together with the socio-economic and political systems, the arts vanished. All masterpieces and records thereof ceased to matter. The cultural
meccas of museums and galleries are turned into mausoleums, some underwater while others barely afloat. Symbolically, these artifacts submerged or muddled in dusts and cobwebs are fast forgotten in the world that prioritized survival over decadence.
This provides an opportunity, not lament, to re-evaluate what constitutes art, culture and the quality of life itself when all prejudices and preconceptions vanish. In this netherworld of near future, there are two forms of survival.
Most crowd and subsist meagerly on manmade platforms, appearing like the Raft of Medusa against tempest tides. Others work for a corporate entity called TEMPUS. Shrouded in enigma, this corporate giant has supplanted the previous systems of governance. It is neither democracy nor dictatorship, for TEMPUS has no elections, claims no sovereignty over territories nor imposes explicit order upon few who has survived. Rather, it influences all aspects of life through material goods and services it produces on a floating metropolis, which has become a sole beacon of hope for the world that has not yet relinquished its attachment to life. As such, TEMPUS appears to and fro, ever nomadically and spontaneously, apparently without any attachments to particularities and devoid of any will to remain predictable or constant.
All that is known about TEMPUS is that it survived a series of catastrophes in the late 21st Century while all forms of governance, socio-economic and cultural orders failed to address the imminent danger. These institutions, preoccupied with their own interests, neglected the larger danger befalling humanity, only to be destroyed by their own machinations. By design or by chance, TEMPUS is the only institution left that is capable of maintaining what remains of the humanity.
While platform-dwellers and employees both depend on this enigmatic organization in one way or another, those who work for it is guaranteed a new modality of survival in this hostile environment. Thus, the employees are called “citizens” by whom’s measure unknown. To attain this new found hope, people clamor to become a TEMPUS citizen. As a condition to join, the
candidates are sent out on expeditions to remaining land masses.
Their mission is to analyze the contaminated ecosystem, collect and archive specimens systematically. Once the candidates accept this prerequisite, TEMPUS issues a kit comprising of three
basic elements of human survivability: clothing; housing; and sustenance.
“Sustenance” is provided in a unique case in which there are objects designed by takram design engineering. Here is its tale.

ii. Beyond Water Bottles
Upon this pretext, takram design engineering was initially asked to design a water bottle as a part of kit issued by TEMPUS. The idea was that this hostile environ will necessitate an ingenious solution to collect clean, drinkable water for these citizen candidates
out on missions in remote, hostile areas of the
globe. While early discussions generated equally whimsical and provocative ideas, none of them really transcended what we know to be water bottles, or better yet, had not escaped the orbit of conventional sphere of solutions. What became necessary was a fundamental revaluation of “how we can consume water.”
Typically, we use water bottles to carry clean water or store contaminated water until it can be treated before consumption. Whatever the media, early solutions had biological or mechanical apparatus that internalized the water filtration processes. In other words, the object of water bottle came in various guises and forms but fundamentally with little differences in terms of water purification. The fact remained that any type of water bottle would have to provide at least 2.0 liters of water daily. This can be cumbersome especially when there may be situations in which there are no water sources available at all.
Hence, takram redefined the issue to “how we can conserve water.” That is to say, how to conserve water internally in order to minimize the intake and output of water altogether. In this way, the energy to carry and collect drinkable water can be appropriated to other activities. This was a moment of r evelation in which the water bottle transfigured into prosthetic organs for water reabsorption. The goal of this transplantation is to reduce the daily intake of water from 2.0 liters to infinitesimally small amounts. It is impossible to devise a total water-conservation system that would stop all excretion of water since some must excrete with urine or fecal matters to prevent damages of human membranes.
Setting this level of water loss as the absolute minimum, all else must be reclaimed internally by four strategically placed prosthetic organs. From top to bottom, they are: arterial-jugular transducer; heat exchange assembly; Sinus maxillaris inserts; urine concentrator; and renal fecular dehydrator.

iii. Prosthetic Organ 00: Prelude
Humans take in and give out approximately two litres of water every day. As for the intake, 1.2 litres from drinking, 0.6 litre from foods, and 0.2 litre from burning food. As for the outflow, 1.2 litres through urination, 0.7 litre through perspiration, and 0.1 litre through feces excretion. In order to minimize the necessary water
intake, water outflow must also be minimized so that water can be recycled in the body. Inspirations were sought in how animals living in arid regions of the world save water.

iv. Prosthetic Organ 01: Arterial-Jugular Transducer
Species of antelopes living in arid areas of Africa and the Arabian peninsula called oryx has a blood circulation system that keeps the head at a lower temperature than its body. This mechanism, realized by heat exchange between the veins and arteries entering and exiting the head, maintains the sensitive brain from
getting too hot while allowing the body temperature to rise up to 46.5 degrees Celcius before the animal begins to perspire and lose its precious water into the air. The carotid heat exchanger was inspired by this heat exchange system of the oryx. A pair of the device is installed in the neck, one on each side, on the carotid artery and the internal jugular vein. The arterial and
venous blood flow go through closely interwoven capillaries inside the device to exchange heat; warm arterial blood is cooled by the venal blood.
This artificial heat exchanger is eventually to be replaced by network of real capillaries bioengineered from the oryx or some other animal. Such heat exchange systems are not unique to the oryx. For example, it is also common in waterfowl that expose the legs in cold water for keeping the body warm by having the heat exchange for blood going in and out of the legs.
Unfortunately, even though some heat exchange at the neck may help keep your head relatively cool, human body cannot withstand high temperatures like the oryx. So, something else also needs to be done to reduce sweating. The heat exchanger device also serves as a small electrical power generator that produces alternating current using the Seebeck effect (reverse
of the Peltier effect) and an alternator. The electricity is fed to the transducer that is installed just beneath the skin on the neck.
Heat energy from the blood flow is converted to electrical energy as such, and that can be extracted outside the body by wearing matching transducers around the neck.
It would be even better if the human body can be bioengineered so that we can withstand high temperatures like the oryx. That may require some time for development.

v. Prosthetic Organ 02: Urine Concentrator
Kangaroo rat is another source of inspiration. This tiny rodent, living in arid and semi arid regions in North America, is such an expert at saving water that it can survive dry climate with minimal or no drinking. It does so by recycling water in its body.
As previously mentioned, urination is the largest means by which we lose water. It accounts for fifty to sixty percent of our daily water loss. Kangaroo rat urine is known to be about four times thicker than that of humans. Its kidneys are responsible for concentrating the urine. The artificial urine concentrator, however, is not to replace the human kidney but is to be installed in the bladder for spacial reasons and for avoiding risks associated with total kidney replacement. Urine from the kidneys flow down the ureter into the two lower holes on the device. Extracted water is fed back into the bloodstream by capillary blood vessels that grow into the two small ports that extend outward. The capillaries need to be led in from outside the bladder by surgically creating two small openings on the wall of the bladder.
Incoming blood is monitored to sense water content so as not to excessively dilute the blood. Strips of nerves originally used to contract the bladder also enter the device from the same ports to control urine outflow when urinating, probably once a week. Concentrated urine is drained from the bottom port down the urethra. Some irritation would be experienced in the urethra until the body tissue adjusts to the thick urine.
The urine concentrator will no longer be necessary once urine concentration becomes possible with human kidneys bioengineered from the kangaroo rats. However, the big problem then will be finding kangaroo rats after most of the land has sunken under water after the climatic catastrophe.

vi. Prosthetic Organ 03: Sinus Maxillaris inserts
Another inspiration from kangaroo rats is its moisture recycling system in its nasal cavities. Fine hair in the nasal cavity captures moisture when breathing out, and water is then carried back into the body along with inhaled air. The artificial nasal insert provides the same function by letting the air go through a block of engineered charcoal with micro through holes that capture and release water molecules. The surgical installation of this device is the most painful of all. Nasal cavities are to be accessed by cutting the nose open, and the waving, shelf-like bones of the nasal concha (also called the turbinates) must be ground away to make room for device insertion.
Hopefully, this water recovery function will be replaced by means that do not require such painful surgical operation. For example, why not simply use smaller nasal insertion devices? It’s partly because such small devices wouldn’t be able to provide enough functionality due to limited surface area. The other reason is the
discomfort the user would experience having a stiff nose which would also limit rich facial expressions. Such devices will surely be developed after some time. Growing fine nano-hair in the nostrils and the nasal cavity will become another option. The nano hairs will have fractal branch structure that start from 0.1mm
thickness and go down to only few tenths or hundredths of micrometer in diameter. The big challenge here would be growing hair. Mankind has been trying so hard to find ways of growing hair and no one has been successful so far.

vii. Prosthetic Organ 03: Renal Fecular Dehydrator
The last device, renal fecular dehydrator, was not inspired by animals from arid regions, but from how men and women differ, stereotypically. Typically, males are able to excrete on more regularly than women. To be more specific, men usually excrete on daily basis while women tend to have irregular, long intervals
between excretions. When women are not able to excrete, the feces does not simply stay in the large intestine. Water is absorbed through the intestinal walls so that feces is reduced in size, recycling water into the bloodstream. The artificial fecular dehydrator does the same, only more effectively.
Going back to the animals, both the oryx and the kangaroo rat are nocturnal like many other animals in areas with hot and dry climate. This is to minimize sweating by avoiding the heat during the day. When water supply is extremely limited, humans will
also choose to be nocturnal especially in hot climate. People will also live in the shade, or even underground where it’s cool. Night vision goggles may also become indispensable.
One last thought. Moisture is lost through breathing, and speaking is no exception. When water is precious, people will choose to speak more softly. Linguistically, how Arabic saves water by using more consonants and less vowels already proves the tendency. No loud laughing, shouting, or crying.
People will also choose to wear masks. Vocal synthesizer will be developed so that people can speak without opening the mouth. Surgical operations to seal or the mouth completely or to reduce its size may even become an option for consideration. However, the mouth may be one of the last part on the human body to be sacrificed for the sake of survival. How would we communicate without it? How would we enjoy food without it? What is the point of survival when you can no longer enjoy talking and eating? Not much hope for the Italians anyway...