Helmut Smits’ The Real Thing is a machine that turns Coca Cola back into water

The machine developed with University of Amsterdam masters student Martien Würdemann uses a simple distillation process. “I try to look at the world and the things around us as a child or as an alien, like I see things for the first time,” Smits told Dezeen. One – I think I’m quite lazy. “I think there are two reasons for that. “When I looked at Coca-Cola that way, I saw dirty brown water, so it was logical to filter it back into clean drinking water, just as we do with all our waste water.”

Smits’ research revealed that the production of one litre of Coca Cola can use up to nine litres of clean drinking water, a fact he described as “absurd”. “A machine that filters Coca Cola into pure drinking water suddenly makes a lot of sense in a world in which drinking water can be harder to come by than the multinational soft drink.”

Despite interest generated by the exhibition, Smits has no plans to take the Coca Cola filtration project any further. Minerals are added at the end to make sure it is safe to drink. Helmut Smits worked with   the Synthetic Organic Chemistry Group at the University of Amsterdam to develop a device to turn Coca Cola into clean drinking water. Two – for me the concept is the most important part of an artwork, that’s where I find the most pleasure,” he explained. Dutch Design Week 2014: Netherlands-based multidisciplinary artist Helmut Smits has developed a distillation system for “a world in which drinking water can be harder to come by than Coca Cola”. Smits had never originally intended to build a working machine and fully realise the project. “I’m not planning on turning all the Coke in the world back into water, it’s more to let people think about how we humans create the world around us and ask questions.”
“I just want people to laugh and then hopefully think about the sh*t that they consume.”

Sense Nonsense opened at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven on 18 October and runs until 9 November.

Updated: 04.11.2014 — 17:09