The Madagascar Institute

What you need to know about the Madagascar Institute, first of all, is that it’s not a collective. That word’s too hippy, too emotional, not active enough. They’re a “combine,” says co-founder Chris Hackett, a group dedicated to building unlikely, nearly impossible sculptures and amusements, live performances, and guerilla art events. Their machine art — the kind that can both inspire and kill you — isn’t only meant to play a part in big public events, but depends on the public to make it magical, like a futuristic carnival taken to the streets. The Motherboard crew visits their Brooklyn workshop, a lair crowded with the machines and materials they’re using to remake civilization, bolt by bolt. Here, Hackett and others also lead a public workshop and classes, befitting their Institute moniker. (The reasons for “Madagascar” are unclear, other than of its exotic connotations, and the first three letters) But mainly this is a school dedicated to a philosophy built for the 21st century and based around the core premise that the world needs jet-powered merry-go-rounds.