In autumn 2011, Superflux joined forces with some of our previous co-conspirators, lending our design expertise to a unique project for GLOW – a week-long festival of light art, augmenting the Dutch city of Eindhoven with a host of interventions and installations.
For this project, the creative team included roving security consultant Eleanor Saitta, architect and designer Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu, and Liam Young, helmsman of speculative urban thinktank Tomorrows Thoughts Today. We worked closely with the others on the project concept, something Liam described as somewhere between nomadic infrastructure and robotic swarm:
'Today we are much closer to our virtual community than we are to our real neighbours. This death of distance has created new forms of city based around ephemeral digital connections rather than physical geography. In this context Electronic Countermeasures explores the design and manufacture of a flock of interactive autonomous drones that form their own place-specific, local, wfi community and pirate file sharing network. Drifting slowly above the water of Eindhoven’s parks the fleet of modified quadrocopters perform a balletic aerial choreography as their soft glow reflects in the canal below.
With Superflux contributing on the feasibility of the final design, form factor, and sketches of the build, a four-drone swarmlet occupied the skies above Eindhoven for a week in November.
The project garned significant press coverage, coinciding with BitTorrent privateers The Pirate Bay's declared plans to experiment with Low Orbit Server Stations, so as to more effectively avoid the long arm of the law. For more on these novel drone infrastructures, see Quiet Babylon on the 'freelance panoptiswarm', Charlie Stross on ratbots, and keep a close eye on the University of Nebraska's Drone Journalism Lab.