Plutchik Café

An artist designed bumper car arena taking drivers on a psychological journey into the human interior - London, June 2017

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Plutchik Café - Merge Bankside, London, June 2017

Bompas & Parr created the Plutchik Café as part of Merge Bankside’s Drive Dead Slow: Dodgems of Your Mind, the world’s first artist designed bumper car arena. The installation commemorated the centenary of dodgems, one of the most iconic fairground rides of all time, taking drivers on a psychological journey into the human interior.

This radical interpretation of the ride was seen in the context of ‘The Whirl of the World’ – the 1917 attaction first experienced in London that developed into the ride we know today. It was said to “cause a pleasant sensation”. 100 years on, this installation was more than just mere thrill but took drivers on an unexpected psychological journey through the strategic use of cross-modal stimuli. All Dodgems of Your Mind cars were fitted with sensors, sound systems and lights deploying latest technology for a dark ride into your psyche.

Hosted in a disused fire station, the dodgems were accompanied by our Plutchik Café, a lurid servery inspired by psychologist Robert Plutchik. In 1980 Plutchik constructed a wheel-like diagram of emotions visualising eight basic emotions: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Anticipation. The schematic theory conflates a colour wheel with emotions. Similar emotions in the wheel sit adjacent and are similarly coloured while emotions that feel diametrically opposed are located opposite one another on the wheel.

This emotional spectrum was the perfect foil for the spectacle of the 21st century dodgems, and the café offered colour-changing drinks representing the full spread of the zesty colours on Plutchik’s wheel.

This was achieved through Bompas & Parr’s special gin that changes colour from dark blue to light pink as polarised tonic is added. This tonic, made from entirely natural ingredients, itself dramatically changes through the full spectrum when viewed through the polarising lenses of the packaging.

Photography by Florence Fairweather of Bompas & Parr.