An elegant installation in Poland and Germany lets people relive the days of fast food restaurant ball pits.
An elegant palace in Kraków, Poland is not exactly the place where you would expect to see people rolling around on the floor, enjoying the delicious onslaught of thousands of yellow plastic balls. But that’s exactly the premise behind the intricately engineered Suck My Balls!, the brainchild of ‘inventor of useless things’ Niklas Roy. The twist in Suck The Balls!, which is part of a traveling exhibition from the Goethe-Institut called Spieltrieb! (Play Instinct!), is that participants bring the shower of balls upon themselves, after the balls travel through an intricate series of pneumatic tubes. The intricate, looping delivery system for the balls, which was originally meant to be continuous instead of activated by a lever, is actually just like a canister vacuum cleaner with a long, complex hose (80 meters, to be exact), but the effect looks utterly mesmerizing.
Of course, the project required some ‘beta testing.’ Niklas Roy and his partner-in-crime Günter Schulz worked out the project in Berlin, discovering that all the vacuum cleaner hose needed was a motion sensor. Before that, Roy was actually building a more complex machine that had more in common with a compressor than a vacuum cleaner; he tested out the project with ping pong balls and tubes that made use of the Venturi effect, which is a reduction in pressure that occurs when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe (the ‘fluid,’ in this case, being a bunch of ping pong balls). He ended up switching to a vacuum system because of the huge compressor a full-scale system would have required.
When it came time to bring the exhibition on the road, he decided to house the entire business in a ‘cabin’ built out of plywood. He modeled the cabin in SketchUp and the plastic known as PETE so that other visitors could look in on the fun. The Play Instinct! exhibition is in Krakow and Ljubljana this year, and it will travel to Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, Košice and Vilnius in 2015. It sounds worth a visit if those cities are anywhere near you, but the video below does provide some idea of all the fun.