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Studio Drift will mimic the flight of starlings by piloting 300 drones over Amsterdam

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Studio Drift: Franchise Freedom
Photo credit: James Harris

There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a murmuration of starlings swirl across a plum-coloured, darkening sky. This Friday, at sunset, you can; but instead of it being real birds, FuturePace artist Studio Drift will present a flying sculpture of 300 luminously lit Intel drones, which will swarm and swoop above the river IJ, Amsterdam, mimicking birds flight. Franchise Freedom acts as an opportunity to show the public how nature and technology can be merged in ways that are startlingly beautiful, rather than frightening and ominous.

Studio Drift’s retrospective is currently on show at the Stedelijk Museum and has received the highest number of visitors since the museum reopened six years ago. The studio is known for installations that explore the relationship between the latest science fiction inspired hi-tech developments and poetic imagery. Each artwork manipulates the viewer into reshaping their relationship towards the environment. “By trying to understand and use nature instead of going against it, we can achieve much more in the field of technology”, Studio Drift’s Ralph Nauta explains.

Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph have been studying the flight patterns of swarming starlings for a decade. “The swarm as an autonomous organism expresses freedom, while the individual birds have to adhere to strict rules in order not to fly against each other”, Lonneke says. “The resulting image is a wonderful translation of how we live together as people and look for our own place inside or outside society”.

On 10 August, Franchise Freedom will be showcased for the first time in Europe since its triumphant premiere at Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2017; “It is the first time that such a large number of drones have been allowed to fly for an art display in the Netherlands”.

Flying drones often have negative connotations; it makes a refreshing change for them to be associated with creativity and wonder. As Natalie Cheung from Intel comments, “the Intel drone light show extends the reach of art into the night sky, creating a whole new way for artists to connect with their audience”.

Viewers will be able to watch the swarm with the skyline of Amsterdam as their backdrop. The installation is free to visit and can be seen from locations around the river IJ. It will be showing at 21.30 from 10 — 12 August.

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Studio Drift: Franchise Freedom
Photo credit: James Harris

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Studio Drift: Franchise Freedom
Photo credit: James Harris