Suck the balls! Pneumatics + plastic balls = fun at Kraków's Goethe Institute
Niklas writes, "I have a wonderful thing for you: The Goethe Institute in Kraków asked me if I could make an installation for their exhibition on playing, called "SPIELTRIEB!". Since I have made exciting experiments with transparent pipes, ping pong balls and a vacuum cleaner a while ago. I always wanted to work further on this principle. This invitation gave me the chance."
So I built a little ball pit and filled it up with 10.000 little yellow plastic balls. Visitors can suck the balls (also the title of the installation) which are then racing through a transparent pipe system that is suspended above their heads in the fancy staircase of the Potocki Palace in Kraków. The little balls end up in a container above the ball pit, from where they shower down onto the operator, when he pulls a handle.
The 10.000 small plastic balls are made out of LDPE. That material is flexible, so even if you step on the balls, they keep their shape. The balls are similar to normal ball pit balls, except for being smaller, as they need to fit inside the pipes. Pingxiang Zhongying Packing Co. Ltd. from Jiangxi in China produced them extra for this installation and I’m really happy about how they turned out! The only downside of the balls is that the yellow plastic scratches off and sticks on the inner surface of the acrylic pipes. So the crystal clear pipes get dull over time, which is a bit, well, dull.
The transparent pipe system is connected to a container, which is shown above from its back side. The container is mounted on top of the ball pit cabin and the sucked balls accumulate in there. You can imagine it as a big solid vacuum cleaner bag. The transparent hose on the top left is connected to the actual vacuum cleaner. That’s where the negative air pressure comes from. The red/blue hose on the top right is the inlet for the balls. The container is tilted slightly downwards, towards the center of the cabin. A release handle is connected via ropes and pulleys with the front lid of the container. When the handle is pulled, the collected balls shower down on the operator, which feels pretty intense! As the container is quite large, the shower can be enjoyed for quite a while.
The exhibition goes on until the end of this year. So there's still plenty of time to suck balls in Krakóws Goethe Institute.