Massive Rube Goldberg Machine to Trigger Chain Reaction Across America

This weekend, the 4th-annual Deconstruct: America weekend hackathon is taking on new dimensions with a chain reaction that spans the entire continent.

Oct 14 2016, 4:25pm

A Sprice chain-reaction machine from August 2016. Images courtesy of The Deconstruction

Fire cannons! Dominoes! Text messages! Gospel choirs! This weekend, watch as a nationwide Rube Goldberg machine—the biggest ever attempted—makes its way across the entire continent. Oh, and better yet? Pick up a wrench or a paint can, and you can make your own contribution.

The Deconstruction is an annual event that invites participants of all ages to create something new, using resources they already have. 2016’s event, Deconstruct: America, is the fourth annual Deconstruction, and the biggest by far. The event will incorporate seven kinetic sculptures in five cities throughout America, plus the independent contributions of armchair artists and engineers anywhere who register and participate. That means you.

The Maker Twins & Co creating a machine for the Red Bull Creation challenge, 2013. Photo by Aaron Rogosin.

The project starts at 4 PM Pacific, Friday, October 14th. From that moment through noon on the 16th, teams around the world will be building their installations. Any submission is fair game: robots, performances, poems, artworks, and anything else you can come up with. will update with an added topic constraint, news from various builds, and prizes.

Lily Hevesh (Hevesh5) builds a piece for the Incredible Science Machine, July 2016.

Meanwhile, select groups around the country will be working on a massive Rube Goldberg project called Common Ground. On Sunday the 16th at noon Pacific, the livestreamed show officially kicks off in Oakland with a chain-reaction machine created by Sprice. That machine will hit a trigger, sending a text message to The Maker Twins & Co in Phoenix. Then onward to a 40+-member high school engineering team in Atlanta; YouTube domino star Hevesh5 in New Hampshire; metal, fire and destruction artists Make.Art.Work. in Detroit; then back to Oakland for a Black Lives Matter-themed musical performance with Reggie White. The finale throwdown will be created by famed fabricators Sheet Metal Alchemist.

Sheet Metal Alchemist members install a wall-sized spirograph for the Pinterest headquarters.

We don’t know yet exactly what these crews are creating—because they haven’t created it yet. All we know is that it’s going to be a series of mad machines that will be extremely fun to watch. Will they work? Probably! Will they be awesome? Without a doubt.

The Freak Beacon, built at the Lincoln Street Art Park in Detroit, is a Make Art Work project.

Each team has picked a theme, like “Newton’s Bridge” (by the Maker Twins); “Women in STEM” (Hevesh5); or “America is Made Great by People, Not Institutions” (Make Art Work). Now take those concepts and add gears, cranks, levers, chain reactions, maybe a few fiery explosions. Want to know more? You’ll have to watch the stream.

This neon sign will be a part of Make Art Work’s project for Common Ground.

And since you’re tuning in, why not take the next step and build a machine of your own? Since The Deconstruction began in 2013, hundreds of people from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have participated. This year, the final hours of build time will be used to feature independent projects on the livestream.

Deconstruct: America will be livestreamed on October 16th at noon PST. Watch it here, or register here to participate.


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