How can we create a human conveyor belt?

Most of the time, dinners are a rather passive experience where the guest is merely consuming. Perhaps conversing.

Conveyor belt sushi restaurants are a global phenomenon that breaks with the classical set up of a restaurant. Still, even with these new hi tech solutions, the role of the guest is rather passive. For museum Boymans van Beuningen we created a huge no-tech conveyor belt in an empty submarine wharf using thousands and thousands of candy balls (toverballen).

At the start of the dinner, guests were requested to hand in their phones to keep the experience no-tech. Still communication with others was highly supported by all the other guests at the table. The plates, filled with ball-shaped food on top of the rolling candy balls, were standing on disks. The disks all carried a clip to hold cards. Every guest had a stack of cards and a pen next to their plate so they could write a message to other guests at the table. All guests had to help push the messages across from one to the other.

It’s interesting to realise how passive we’ve become at the table. We’ve had so much fun pushing the disks around and making sure there was still food left for the people next to us. It’s a good experiment in kindness and cooperation.

Jamie Korsting guest

As the food was served from the short side of the conveyor belt, everybody needed to actively participate in pushing the disks across the tables to share the food around.

Of course, the food was ball shaped to match the concept. We did the try out of this dinner at my wedding party just to find out how it works. There were many kids at my wedding and they loved eating the candy balls. Which was great fun! But it also meant the conveyor belt soon started to get ‘holes’ in the system and the disks weren’t able to slide across anymore. Lesson: If you do this at home, do not invite children or get more balls than seem to be needed in the first place 😉

Bits ‘n bytes was created for

Museum Boymans van Beuningen
and executed at the Submarine wharf in Rotterdam

Pictures by

Fred Ernst

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