Did You See This?

Mechanical Portrait of Us

An eye-popping Rube Goldberg machine explains America in 2016.

Common Ground,” above, is a fantastically complicated, nationwide Rube Goldberg contraption that manages to double as a compelling self-portrait of America in 2016.

Participants in five cities devised their own interconnecting “machines”—the end of each one triggers the next, one way or another. Every mechanism is great, with a clever, perfectly timed series of events using all kinds of unexpected objects and actions. Issues on America’s mind these days are woven throughout.

The action moves from California to Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Michigan, before returning to California for a powerful finale with a Bay Area choir singing about police violence.