1,000 Drones will Fly Over Central Park this Weekend

studio drift franchise freedom

Studio Drift / Instagram

This weekend, 1,000 lit-up drones designed to mimic the flight patterns of starlings will fly over Central Park in a performance by Studio Drift, an Amsterdam-based artist duo specializing in choreographed sculptures and kinetic installations.


Performances will be held on Saturday, October 21 at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., and ideal viewing locations include Bethesda Fountain, the Bandshell area and the boat landing and overpass at West 77th Street. (A map of viewing locations can be downloaded here.) Music by Joep Beving will accompany the performance.

Franchise Freedom is an aerial drone performance exploring the relationship between man, nature and technology. To create Franchise Freedom, DRIFT translated over 10 years of starling flight behaviour research into an especially-developed software that is embedded in the drones. The parameters in the algorithm used are choreographed by Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, founders of DRIFT, in order to channel the emotional impact of the performance.

The artwork is a poetic illustration of how we as humans strive to live autonomously within a society defined by rules and conventions. Although the drone patterns appear random and the swarm reminds us of freedom, the behaviour of these birds is completely orchestrated and subject to many rules and survival instincts.

The people behind Franchise Freedom say it will be the largest public art project in Central Park since “The Gates” in 2005, the New York Times reports, adding that “the organizers say [the drones] will be like silent fireworks.”


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A post shared by DRIFT (@studio.drift)

Franchise Freedom made its debut during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2017, with a 2020 follow up performance in Rotterdam.

Studio Drift’s past New York City performances have included Drifter, “an installation consisting of one floating concrete block”; and Dead or Alive, created “from parts of flora and fauna that were once living.”


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