March 19, 2012
Creativity knows no bounds, so why should it be curbed by the stringency of corporate interests? Now, F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab have an answer to that problem, at least as it applies to childhood playtime: the Free Universal Construction Kit, a compendium of 80 adapter bricks capable of connecting up to ten popular construction toys together and, in doing so, opening up new channels of “intercourse between otherwise closed systems.” The kit is compatible with toys both old and new(er), from Lincoln Logs (1920) and LEGO (1958) to K’Nex (1990), Zoobs (1996), and Zometools (2002), thereby empowering children to creatively construct their own hybrid networks of play, irrespective of time, cultural context, and litigation.
With the Free Universal Construction Kit, F.A.T. Lab and Sy-lab hope to instigate a new “physible” movement which seeks to establish, in the words of the collaborators, “reverse engineering as a civic activity.” The kit, thus, enables children and adults alike to tease out interoperability out of the commodities with which they have been presented and, in doing so, learn to hack their “relationship with material mass-culture.”
In keeping with the group’s stated goals, the kit will not be mass-produced, but rather released as a downloadable .STL file for printing. Kids can choose and print from the assortment of adapter bricks available and begin creating their own mash-up structures, testing and swapping out different parts for others until the desired mix of mechanical strength, kinetic movement, and geometry is achieved. The combinations are endless, and judging from the arresting Hedjukian follies and sculptures displayed on the site, the results can prove quite appealing. So go on, get to playing!