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Franchise Freedom – BMW and Studio Drift at Art Basel Miami Beach (Partner Content)


Many of us have watched the spectacular formations that small migrating birds such as swallows and starlings form in the sky.

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 06: Guests watch the World Premiere Of FRANCHISE FREEDOM - A Flying Sculpture By Studio Drift In Partnership With BMW at The Faena Art Dome on December 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for BMW)

In a miraculous transformation their seemingly random flying settles into beautiful, fluidly undulating masses where thousands of birds move together as if they were one living organism.

Taking a representation of this spectacle into the sky above the ocean at Art Basel Miami Beach this year was the near-impossible art project commissioned by BMW and created by Amsterdam-based Studio Drift.


The project, called Franchise Freedom, is in practical terms a group of 300 lighted drones flying in orchestrated patterns in the night sky. Many of us have already seen small-scale iterations of this idea, of lighted drones flying in simple patterns in the night sky, but this was the largest group of drones ever attempted.

Drift’s founders Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta translated natural flight patterns of starlings into software specifically created for the drones. The project also benefited from ongoing university research focusing on flocking behavior and on the understanding of the principles of self-organization in nature.

In artistic terms, Franchise Freedom explored the ideas of individual freedom versus safety in numbers, and the sacrifice of the individuals versus creating the illusion of freedom.


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