Bumper Ballet

Dancing and Bumping; when autonomous technology takes over

Bumper Ballet is an art installation in which Artificial Intelligence takes over control of bumper cars and makes them dance, based on audiovisual archive materials.

The installation is consisting of a bumper car track of approximately 6 x 12 meters containing four bumper cars. Any visitor can hop in and take the cars for a ride. Initially the bumper cars function as normal, but after a while ‘the system’ takes over and the steering wheel no longer works. Visitors become subject to the cars and experience first hand what it means to lose control when a computer takes over. From that point on, the cars perform a ‘dance’: a bumper car ballet inspired by audiovisual archive materials, based on an artificial intelligence translation.

The first input concerns a promotional video from 1974 with ‘dancing DAF cars’ by the famous Dutch car manufacturing company DAF. The installation playfully tackles the social implications of emerging autonomous technology.

Bumper Ballet has been realized in close collaboration with Eindhoven Museum and the designers Peter de Man and Douwe Hibma. The project has been supported by VSBfonds and the BankGiroLoterij Fonds.

Bumper Ballet has been launched at the Venice Biennial by the Ms. Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science in May 2019.

-The Fair Grounds won the NICE Award 2019 – a European prize for social innovation within the European Creative Industries.

-Bumper Ballet has been selected as a finalist to the SXSW Art Program 2020.

Autonomous Bumping Cars

Concept & design:

Technical realisation:
Peter de Man & Douwe Hibma

In collaboration with:
Eindhoven Museum

The Fair Grounds:
Bumper Ballet is part of The Fair Grounds. The Fair Grounds is an artistic project by media design collective DROPSTUFF MEDIA. The project builds a collection of artworks where amusement rides are presented as art installations. New narratives have been added to fairground attractions as well as to old forms of folk culture. Both have been updated with the rich stories of cultural heritage, the imagination of the arts and the wonderment of new technologies. The result is a truly new fairground where every ride has been modified and enhanced and now tells surprising new stories to a mix of generations: popular culture meets high tech and high art!