300 Synchronized Drones Flying Off Miami Beach Coast To Kick Off Biggest Art Basel Yet

If you look out your window and see hundreds of aircraft flying over the Atlantic tomorrow night (and through the week), don’t be alarmed – it’s not an invasion.

Amsterdam’s Studio Drift is planning to fly 300 illuminated drones off the coast of Miami Beach as part of the Art Basel festivities. The flock will be remotely controlled by decentralized computer algorithms.

The show starts at 9 PM on December 6, behind the Faena Hotel.

This year’s Art Basel could be the biggest yet, with Art Miami and sister fair Context already saying that they have had the most inquiries ever.


Studio Drift partners with BMW for the world premiere of their sculpture “FRANCHISE FREEDOM” made of 300 drones flying as a flock above. Max Hooper Schneider presents his BMW Art Journey at the Collectors Lounge. BMW as official partner of Art Basel in Miami Beach 2017.

Miami Beach. During this year´s Art Basel in Miami Beach the BMW Group will present two major cultural collaborations: The world premiere of “FRANCHISE FREEDOM – a flying sculpture by Studio Drift in partnership with BMW” created by Amsterdam based artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta. After sunset, 300 illuminated drones will simulate a flock of birds above the ocean and beach. In addition, the new work of BMW Art Journey winner Max Hooper Schneider will be on display at the BMW Lounge.

“FRANCHISE FREEDOM – a flying sculpture by Studio Drift in partnership with BMW” is a performative artwork at the interface between technology, science, and art. An autonomous flying swarm of 300 drones, each equipped with a light source, will imitate the natural phenomenon of a flock on December 6, 9 PM on the beach of Miami above the sea between 32nd and 33rd Street off Collins Avenue behind the Faena Hotel Miami Beach. This is the first time that a flock on this scale is presented by machines working with decentralized algorithms. Inspired by the spectacle of starlings clustering together in massive flocks and exposing the tension between individual freedom and safety in numbers, Studio Drift questions the delicate balance between the group and the individual. Studio Drift’s first research on this project dates back to 2007. 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.

BMW has a 50-year global track record of recognizing and enabling talent in the arts. The company makes artistic visions come true and honors the full creative freedom of any artist or institution they collaborate with. When Studio Drift sought a dialogue with BMW in regard to their ambitious project, the company, as long-term partner of Art Basel, could not pass on the challenge. For the period of over half a year, discussions ensued between BMW and Studio Drift – just as they did with artists like Jeff Koons, Olafur Eliasson, and Cao Fei beforehand.

“We were impressed by the courage of BMW to get involved here, as an artwork of this scope and scale has never even been tested before. They believed in our idea because they fully comprehend how complicated and intricate those innovative processes are,” says Lonneke Gordijn, co-founder of Studio Drift, Amsterdam.

At its core, BMW is at the forefront of technological innovation, which is why “Franchise Freedom – a flying sculpture by Studio Drift in partnership with BMW” holds such a strong appeal. Making the impossible possible is what both, the company and artists, such as Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, strive for. Says Hildegard Wortmann, Senior Vice President Brand BMW: “Studio Drift and BMW both subscribe to a symbiosis of innovation and beauty. I congratulate Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta for the perseverance in turning their endeavor into a reality. ‘FRANCHISE FREEDOM’ is both a technological wonder and an aesthetic experience to behold.”

In celebration of Art Basel in Miami Beach 2017, Studio Drift, BMW, Future\Pace as well as Faena will premiere “FRANCHISE FREEDOM”. The private inaugural performance and event will take place on the evening of Wednesday, December 6, on the beach of Faena Hotel with additional performances, weather permitting, throughout the week, time and date will be shared on Instagram by Studio Drift @studio.drift and by BMW on Facebook #bmwgroupculture. The drones will be visible from a large distance.

While Studio Drift is presenting their latest artwork at the interface between science, art and technology, Bayerische Motoren Werke will have one of their latest masterpiece on site: the BMW Concept 8 Series will be on display for guests to see it up close in the Faena Beach Dome on December 6, 2017. The study car will serve as a taster of a forthcoming BMW model – The BMW Concept 8 Series stands for new design ideas and form-building techniques, representing the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW and slated for launch in 2018 as part of the biggest model offensive in the company’s history.

BMW Art Journey at Art Basel in Miami Beach
BMW Art Journey winner Max Hooper Schneider will present his new work at the BMW Lounge at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2017, made in response to his recently completed maritime journey to explore coral reefs around the globe. His journey investigated coral reef systems from the Bikini Atoll to the Fukushima disaster “reef” in Japan, from Lake Baikal in Russia to the coast of Madagascar. Importantly, each reef system has been compromised by its contact with humans, and each one reveals a specific aspect of how this interaction has occurred, as well as how human and non-human agents have acted over time to remediate the damage. Together, the reefs tell a story of death and resilience, corruption and rebirth.

The BMW Art Journey is a global collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. This unique award is open to artists who are exhibiting in the Discoveries and Positions sectors in the Hong Kong and Miami Beach shows of Art Basel, respectively. Two judging panels comprised of internationally renowned experts meet first to select a shortlist of three artists from the sector, who are then invited to submit proposals for a journey aimed to further develop their ideas and artistic work. The jury reconvenes to choose a winner from the three proposals.

Past winners of the BMW Art Journey include sound and performance artist Samson Young (presented by a.m. Space, Hong Kong at Art Basel’s Hong Kong show in 2015), who has represented Hong Kong at the 2017 Venice Biennale, German video artists Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr (presented by Galerie Max Mayer, Dusseldorf at Art Basel’s Miami Beach show in 2015), British artist Abigail Reynolds (presented by Rokeby, London at Art Basel’s show in Hong Kong in 2016) as well as Max Hooper Schneider (presented by High Art, Paris at Art Basel’s Miami Beach show in 2016) and Astha Butail (represented by GALLERYSKE, New Dehli, Bangalore at Art Basel´s Hong Kong show in 2017).

The next BMW Art Journey shortlist will be announced on December 7 at 5:30 PM at the BMW Lounge at the 2017 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach.

The members of this year´s expert jury in Miami Beach are:
Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director New Museum, New York City),
Gabi Ngcobo (Curator Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin),
Victoria Noorthoorn (Director Museu de Arte Moderna, Buenos Aires)
Philipp Tinari (Director Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing) and
Susanne Pfeffer (Director Museum Fridericianium, Kassel)

BMW has supported Art Basel in Miami Beach as a long-term partner and is again providing the VIP shuttle service. BMW is also global partner of the international Art Basel shows in Basel and Hong Kong.

For further information about the artists and the project, please visit: http://bmw-art-journey.com