“Franchise Freedom,” an aerial drone dance that has been performed at NASA and Burning Man, will send 1,000 autonomous machines skyward over Manhattan on Saturday night for a kinetic light show above Central Park. The New York spectacle will be on a larger scale than previous productions, which typically involved around 300 drones.
Dutch artists Lonke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, who call themselves Studio Drift and create mostly experiential installations, say “Franchise Freedom” aims to explore humans’ relationship with nature.
The artist says on his website, “This artwork is a poetic depiction of how we as humans strive to live autonomously within a society defined by rules and traditions.” “Although drone patterns appear random and flocks remind us of freedom, the behavior of these birds is completely well-organized and subject to many rules and survival instincts.”
Three free shows in Central Park on Saturday will begin at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and each last 10 minutes. A map on the Drift website lists the best places to see the light-bearing drones creating synchronous patterns in the sky. Drift will also livestream the performance with musical accompaniment by Dutch composer and pianist Joep Beving, which online viewers can access through services including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
To create “Franchise Freedom”, Drift outfitted Intel Shooting Star drones with custom software programmed based on research on starling flight behavior.
Of course, no one just shows up and flies 1,000 unmanned aircraft over a city of millions – at least not without major consequences. According to Artnews, the Central Park display has been in the works for five years, due to 2017 regulations on drone flight in New York City. The artists eventually received permission to perform in Central Park in July, following the announcement. New rules governing take-off and landing permits for unmanned aircraft, including drones.
The New York City Police Department said, “The permit process considers the requirements of federal, state and local laws, and balances the current security and privacy concerns inherent in the widespread use of drones against the significant benefits provided by this modern technology.” Is.” Shared information on the new permission process.
The weather forecast for Manhattan predicts rain on Saturday, but Lucas Van Oostrom, CEO of Drone Stories, one of the production’s co-sponsors, isn’t too worried. “All this points to the heavy rain stopping before the show,” Van Oostrom said in an email.
Drone light shows in the sky are nothing new. They entertain audiences on college campuses and science museums. And sometimes drones get synchronized for some reason too. This month, drone maker DJI held an elaborate drone light show calling for global water conservation by configuring flying vehicles in the shape of giant blue water drops that turned into waves as they descended.
“Franchise Freedom” debuted at the contemporary art fair Art Basel in 2017, and visitors were the most recent to see a public art exhibit at Art Basel Miami Beach in December. Video of that performance shows multicolored lights illuminating the night sky like giant choreographed fireflies. Sometimes the roaming drones resemble a flock of birds, and sometimes they resemble a DNA helix.
Studio Drift has also installed other kinetic drone installations, including one for Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam With that, appropriately, the show ended on a truly starry night.