Consciousness as a Product.

I dreamed I was writing this article, it was something like this…

(versão em Português aqui)

Imagine if you see a canvas with numbers, each canvas with a tone of grey. And, taking a step back, you realize the artist painted one canvas a day for his entire career, listing from 0 to infinite, each day he started from the remaining number of yesterday, until the end of today’s canvas. Each day he added 1% of white in the background’s black paint. The black becoming grey, the grey becoming white… until his death, until the infinite.

Roman Opalka was an artist from a 60s - 70s movement called Conceptual Art, where the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the finished art object. Duchamp, Yayoi, Beuys and Cai Guo-Qiang can also be considered part of the movement — even though framing an artist isn’t a good ideia — we can say the process was giving meaning to the artwork.

They shocked the world with their art because it was a radical break from the Formalism, from the early 20th century. Formalism was about basic elements: color, line, composition, and texture. Sharing beliefs with Bauhaus, abstraction or representational, a painting had more or less value if an artist was able to create a visual balance of the elements.

Jasper Jones and Jackson Pollock, two representation of the Formalism and visual balance.

Many things happened in the world to create this contrast between Formalism and Conceptualism. In the 60s and 70s we had an explosion of media and freedom. Civil and gay rights, bikinis, afro hair style. Tech evolved, TV was getting mainstream as well as mass media, “15 min of fame” and celebrities.

Consumerism boomed. Specially influenced by the US that was creating trends and heroes. We were consuming concepts and projections, the idea behind — and who was using — was as important as the product itself.

But, of course, we weren’t buying Duchamp’s urinal. Like in fashion runways, we need strong statements so we can wake up and balance things up. The shoes, clothes, technology we were purchasing had an idea behind without neglecting formalism and usefulness. A Venn Diagram came to my mind:

My dream stopped here. But with a hold on serendipity, I kept going…

Fast forward to today. You see a sculpture, that resembles a solid smoke.

Have you ever seen melanin?

A group os scientists, led by Neri Oxman, took melanin to illustrate biodiversity in form and beauty, and to awake us that the planet Earth is under threat, with growing extinction rates. The exhibit at MoMA, Material Ecology, also presents the information using a paint made from turmeric and beetroot that changes color over time, like the interrelation on nature.

The work of MIT Mediated Matter has beauty and function, as well as a strong idea behind it. In fact, Formalism and Conceptualism became ubiquitous and fractioned in a number of different things. And these fractions aren’t disassociated, but interrelated.

Other contemporary artists like AiWeiWei, Marina Abramović, Olafur Eliasson and Banksy are also composed of interrelations. They became layers of creative expression through different values: Climate change. Beauty and Aesthetics. Gender and Racial Equality. Ethics and philosophy. Pop, Media, Street and Fashion. Biomimetic and AI. Death and Life.

One feeding the other. A transitional expression, connecting different subjects that move on interpretation through time and space. An awakening art with a Consciousness… Framing artists isn’t still a good idea, but we are not on a Venn Diagram anymore, but on a Cycle.

Neri Oxman’s Krebs Cycle of Creativity

And what about today’s consumption?

We are still consuming function and beauty, for sure. And we are still consuming ideas. In fact, the majority of the things we consume are still the same as last decades. Of course, technology evolved, but it’s still about that celebrity sneakers and clothes, the latest tech gadget and that music with 3 chords and repetitive chorus. We are still consuming like 90s kids, but with adult cash, e-commerce and delivery.

The 20’s pandemic might be helping to accelerate what is still niche today in terms of consumption, a Conscious Consumption. The one that take into consideration the interrelations of the “Act of Purchase”:

Where is this product coming from? Where does it goes when discarded? Does it harm anyone or the planet? Who is getting my money and what they will do? Who am I investing to? Who am I voting for when I make this purchase?

Consciousness needs to move from art to mainstream culture. It needs to be Useful, Beautiful, Conceptual, and has a Consciousness to become a good product. That’s still my dream.



Co-founder of

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store