Red Market Economics


An exercise in conceptual mapping, this piece analogizes organ harvesting by imagining it as currency. Utilizing data reports published by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, I compared the current donor and patient waiting lists for six organs, then used those numbers to formulaically abstract illustrations of pancreta, kidneys, and the like. I divided front and back of the bills into supply and demand: the total number of registered organ donors versus the number of patients in need of a transplant. The gulf between the two numbers communicates a dire need for life-saving organs, and a profitable market for those smarmy enough to illegally conduct transplants.

Throughout this project, I conducted a number of experiments, most related to materiality. An early iteration involved acetone transfer onto practice tattoo skin. Reproducing the nuances of rag paper money was accomplished through UV pigment and debossing; designing guilloche patterns unique to every organ was a great benefit to the overall aesthetic. The blocks of zeroes and ones are one final hidden message — a binary translation of the below Gordon Gekko (Wall Street) quote:

“It’s a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred – from one perception to another.”