1,000 Drones Put on a Spectacular Light Performance in the Sky at Burning Man

Drone Shows at 2022 Burning Man Featured 1000 Drones

For 36 years, Burning Man has been a gathering place for art lovers across the globe. This year’s event showcased incredible art installations that festival goers very much welcomed after a two-year hiatus. One artistic display in particular has highlighted the self-defined city’s momentary beauty with spectacular drone shows that painted the night sky and has kept burners talking long after they have left.

The 1,000 drones in the performance were programmed by Amsterdam-based team DRIFT and friends to create unbelievable aerial light shows each night while DJs performed. Late in the evening, residents of Black Rock City were able to look up and see everything from a hyperrealistic eye that blinked to gigantic, hypnotic geometric displays. One visual was of manta rays swimming through the night sky, which attendees characterized as peaceful and incredible. Another was of a giant mask-like figure that looked down on the crowd, rotating to seemingly survey the festivities.

One source of inspiration for the content of these shows was the online Burning Man community. Convergence Collective, drone programmers for the opening night’s show, took to Reddit to ask burners what they would like to see their drones do. The comments suggested ideas such as a starry sky, a butterfly, and floral displays, but a request that was echoed by many seemed to make the final cut—an homage to Burning Man co-creator Larry Harvey, who recently passed away.

Many citizens of the temporary city point to the “hat man” as their favorite drone show of the year. The drone performance started with the Man figure (the one that, as the name suggests, gets burned at the end) in red, walking in a circle. The figure gently disappears in fragments. In a magical whirl, the drones turn blue as they form the figure again. This time, though, he holds a bright white Stetson hat, a signature of Harvey. The figure puts on the hat, raises his arms, and falls backwards. White lights form dotted vertical lines around him, adding to the illusion that he is falling. As he rotates, he disintegrates and vanishes towards the heavens. In a bright flash of blue, all of the drones appear one last time as a cube as they return to their large charging base to recoup for the next show ahead of them.

DRIFT contextualizes their co-op multi-night performance as “a story on Man vs. Machine.” Though, with some performances being visuals such as the burner phrase “F Your Burn” and a Stetson-wearing Burning Man, it seems to be more of a celebration of Black Rock City and some of its 10 founding principles, like radical inclusion, communal effort, participation, immediacy, and leaving no trace.

Scroll down to see some of the incredible drone shows from Burning Man 2022.

Amsterdam-based studio collective DRIFT and friends worked together to program 1,000 drones to create incredible performances at this year's Burning Man.

Each night, Black Rock City residents looked up to see astonishing visuals that ranged from geometric displays to a hyperrealistic eye.

One aerial light show quickly became a fan favorite—”the hat man,” which paid homage to Burning Man co-creator, Larry Harvey, who recently passed away.

While the self-defined city is known for its momentary, impermanent beauty, many burners online are able to relive these awe-inspiring moments through pictures and videos.


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A post shared by Arjen van Eijk (@arjenvaneijk)

h/t: [Laughing Squid]

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Madyson DeJausserand

Madyson DeJausserand is a Video Editor at My Modern Met Academy and a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. She is also an award-winning filmmaker who graduated from Oakland University with a BA in Cinema Studies with a specialization in Filmmaking. Her passions for filmmaking and art bleed into her everyday life and she devotes her time to developing her voice as a filmmaker, writer, artist, and editor.
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