The spellbinding sight of a murmuration of starlings will be magically translated into light over Central Park this weekend when 1,000 illuminated drones take to the skies in an orchestrated dance.
Entitled Franchise Freedom, the spectacle is the work of Dutch studio DRIFT — whose aim is to “explore the relationship between humans, nature and technology.”
“A flock of 1,000 drones will take flight for the first time ever above the park for this public art event and we would like to welcome anyone in New York to come and experience this,” said a DRIFT spokesperson.
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To create Franchise Freedom, DRIFT translated over 10 years of starling flight behavior research into a specially developed software that is embedded in the drones.
“The parameters in the algorithm used are choreographed to channel the emotional impact of the performance,” the spokesperson added. “Although the drone patterns appear random and the swarm reminds us of freedom, the behavior of these birds is completely orchestrated and subject to many rules and survival instincts.”
The light show will happen three times on Saturday night (October 21), with 10-minute performances at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm — and the organizers say the best viewing points are at Bethesda Fountain, Dead Road, Bandshell and Frisbee Hill, and the Boat Landing and drive overpass on W77th Street (download a map of viewing locations here).
The performance even has its own musical soundtrack by Joep Beving, and for a more personalized experience you can download it straight to your headphones.
Given our recent weekend weather conditions, it’s good to hear via the DRIFT Instagram account that “the drones can handle some rain” — but if adverse weather becomes an obstacle to the performance, updates will be posted on the event’s website.