Bumper Ballet

Bumper Ballet is a new media art installation by DROPSTUFF MEDIA consisting of a refurbished bumper car track about 6 x 12 meters across. There are four bumper cars placed on the track, distinctively recognizable by their high gloss unicolor polyester layer and colored in the template of ‘De Stijl’, the famous Dutch modernist art movement of Piet Mondriaan and Gerrit Rietveld.

Any visitor can get a ticket, hop in and take one of the cars for a ride. Initially, these bumper cars function as normal as participants can drive the cars around the track. After a few minutes, the system takes over and both the steering wheel and the gas pedal lose their functionality. From that point on, the cars perform a dance. A bumper car ballet is created as the cars perform a preprogrammed routine of movements, moving in unison across the track. They continue to bump into each other and the borders of the track as they seemingly dance to the music and visuals of the ‘Dansende DAFjes‘: a 1970’s company video of the famous Dutch car company DAF.

Dancing & bumping: when autonomous technology takes over

Bumper Ballet playfully tackles the implications of current emerging autonomous technology. As participants become a direct subject to the cars, they experience first hand what it means to ‘lose control’ when the system takes over. Onlookers can spot the synchronicity in the movements of the car, blurring the lines between bumping and ballet.

The installation has been realized in close collaboration with Eindhoven Museum and the designers Peter de Man and Douwe Hibma. It was first presented during the Venice Biennale 2019, prompting visiting minister Van Engelshoven of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to hop in and take a ride. Afterwards, the installation travelled throughout The Netherlands. It was featured at the large Dutch funfair Park Hilaria and the Dutch art festival for children De Betovering 

Part of the official selection of SXSW 2020 Art Program

In 2020, Bumper Ballet was selected as part the prestigious American SXSW 2020 Art Program. The SXSW Art Program creates a platform for visual artists to connect with international leaders in the fields of music, film, and technology by showcasing innovative projects and provoking discussions at SXSW. We will showcase Bumper Ballet at the trade show between the 15th and 18th of March and at Flatstock between 19th and 21st of March.

More information & bookings: 
Are you interested in having one, several or all of the installations of The Fair Grounds at your festival, event, congress or meeting? Do not hesitate to contact us for more information. You can send us an e-mail at info@dropstuff.nlgive us a call at +31 (0) 35 677 19 12 or use this contact form

Self driving bumper 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 the Dutch new media art collective DROPSTUFF MEDIA which consists of multiple independent installations where traditional amusement rides have been updated with new artistic or social narratives. The result is a truly new fairground, where every ride has been modified or enhanced and tells a surprising story in the public space: popular culture meets high tech and high art!

Selected by the 2020 SXSW Art Program