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300 Drones Light Up the Night Sky to Honor Health Care Workers in Dazzling Performance

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Last Tuesday, May 5, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of the Netherland’s liberation from the Nazi’s. The national holiday is typically celebrated with parades and festivities. While the holiday has been canceled due to the current global pandemic, Dutch artists, Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, at DRIFT orchestrated a live performance using drone technology. The dazzling display honored the nation’s history and it’s health care workers at Erasmus MC hospital, the country’s central response point amidst the pandemic.

The people behind this project work with technology to “manifest the phenomena and hidden properties of nature.” The swarm of display has been named Franchise Freedom, a group of 300 drones set to move in an autonomous rhythm. The science and precision behind it is a direct reflection of what most of us are feeling in this time.

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Using an algorithm stemmed from researching starling murmurations where thousands of birds fly in a cohesive shape, these drones are inspired by the solidarity found in nature. In the wild, this flight technique is a way to “manage uncertainty and maintain consensus” while navigating against change in winds, temperature, and direction. DRIFT’s performance shed many lights on the power behind working together in an individual fashion to save lives.

“When people look at starlings, they think they’re looking at one of the most free, natural movements they can imagine,” Nauta says. “But when you look closer, you see the birds are working together as a safety mechanism.” However, as things change “there is an ongoing desire to break out of it, rebuild, break, build. It’s this beautiful, non-free behavior, this duality of the swarm.”

Studio Drift uses drones to create beating heart above Rotterdam | FULL VIDEO

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The quality of togetherness in isolation is what the drone display set out to reflect. Despite regulations to remain apart, we are reminded we are never alone. “The world is one superorganism, so if we fail to work together for the benefit of the entire Earth, we will never find a true solution,” Gordjin says.

Capturing and expressing deep emotion through a mechanical medium wasn’t easy for the artistic duo at first. However, the process unfolded into a beautiful message reminding us of the poetry within mass movement, even in moments of uncertainty.

 

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