Miami Beach residents have a contentious relationship with drones. Hang out on the sand on a sunny weekend and you're bound to see at least a few buzzing over the surf, filming crowd shots of scantily clad sunbathers. In fact, there are so many that Miami Beach passed an ordinance banning the flying devices from filming through condo windows, and the state passed a law regulating how cops could use them after Miami Beach PD was among the first forces in Florida to buy their own drones.
All of which is to say, Netherlands-based artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta have chosen an interesting locale to stage what's being described as the largest drone-based piece of performance art.
During Art Basel Miami Beach, the two, who helm the Amsterdam-based Studio Drift, are collaborating with BMW to produce a 300-drone aerial show over the ocean just outside the Faena Hotel. The piece, called Franchise Freedom, is an "aerial sculpture" in which hundreds of brightly lit drones will imitate a flock of starlings.
"An artwork of this scope and scale has never even been tested before," Gordijn says in a release.
It's not clear exactly how the mass drone flock will abide by Miami Beach's strict code on the devices. New Times has requested the artists' permits from the city. (Update: Melissa Berthier, a city spokesperson, says that "The city follows FAA regulations and this event has been wrapped into their overall special event permit.")
Studio Drift says it has spent nearly a decade working on the technology that will power the project, which will be performed at 9 p.m. December 6 over the ocean just off Collins Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets.
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"Studio Drift’s first research on this project dates back to 2007," the artists say. "To create Franchise Freedom, Studio Drift studied the natural flight patterns of starlings and translated them into software that were specially developed and embedded in the drones."
The artist collective has made a global name through its intricately mechanical displays, such as this stunner at the 2015 Venice Biennale:
The performance will also be free to view — a major selling point during the champagne-soaked, velvet-rope season on the Beach. Let's all welcome our new drone overlords in style.