Studio Drift Will Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 With a Floating Drone Performance at a NASA Space Center

The piece is inspired by birds' flight patterns.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom, rendering at NASA's Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center. Image courtesy of PACE.
Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom, rendering at NASA's Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center. Image courtesy of PACE.

Artist duo Studio Drift is teaming up with NASA. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, which sent mankind to the moon for the first time, Studio Drift will stage one of its otherworldly illuminated drone performances at NASA’s Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

The piece, titled Franchise Freedom, uses 300 Intel® Shooting Star drones to create a flying sculpture that morphs into different shapes as it hovers in the night sky. The piece will be accompanied by a live musical performance by the band Duran Duran.

“The moon landing made us think about our lives here on earth more than life on the moon,” said Lonneke Gordijn, who co-founded Studio Drift with Ralph Nauta, in a statement. “That’s what our work Franchise Freedom is about, human behavior on earth.”

Blending science, technology, and art, Franchise Freedom premiered during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2017. The drones’ movement is based on birds’ natural flight patterns; the artists program software to create an algorithm that mimics the gorgeous, undulating swarming of a starling murmuration.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom at Burning Man. Photo by Rahi Rezvani.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom at Burning Man. Photo by Rahi Rezvani.

The artists can never predict exactly how the drones will behave, meaning that no two iterations of the aerial sculpture are ever quite the same.

Also commemorating the half-century anniversary of Apollo 11’s monumental journey is the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, which will kick off a free light show, “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon,” on July 16.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017. Photo by James Harris.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017. Photo by James Harris.

The piece will transform the Washington Monument into the 363-foot Saturn V rocket that launched the spacecraft for three nights.

On July 19 and 20, a 17-minute film featuring full-motion projection mapping artwork and archival footage will play on the obelisk, recreating Apollo 11’s voyage to the moon.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom in Amsterdam. Photo by Ossip van Duivenbode.

Studio Drift, Franchise Freedom in Amsterdam. Photo by Ossip van Duivenbode.

After its successful launch, Apollo 11 traveled to the moon, where commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Studio Drift: Franchise Freedom” will be performed at NASA’s Rocket Garden at the Kennedy Space Center Complex, Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, Florida, July 16, 2019. Doors at 8 p.m., performance at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $300. 


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