How can I make people think about how there are places in the world where people don’t have access to drinking water, but they have access to coca-cola?

Turning Coca Cola into clean drinking water

In this project Helmut Smits made an instillation that transforms coca cola back into clean drinking water. The point is to make people “think about how there are places in the world where people don’t have access to drinking water, but they have access to Coca-Cola.” Or, alternately, “I just want people to laugh and then hopefully think about the shit that they consume. This project aims to create awareness in a straightforward and honest manner with a touch of humor.

Smits is an artist, not a designer, and came up with the idea back in 2006. “I’m quite critical towards big companies, so of course Coca-Cola, they’re like the biggest company, and they are inspiring in that way,” he says. Smits has a particular methodology for starting his art projects: He picks a subject, and then tries to observe it like an alien, seeing it for the first time. “So I looked at Coca-Cola not as Coca-Cola, but as I’ve never seen it before. And then I saw dirty brown water,” he says. “It was logical to filter it to clean drinking water.” Smits doesn’t have a chemistry background, so he worked with scientists at the Synthetic Organic Chemistry Group at the University of Amsterdam to create the working installation.