The Right to Flight

The Right to Flight is a project that, in the words of creator James Bridle, “will investigate ways to return the powers of surveillance and omniscience to the surveilled.”

The core of the project is a military-grade high altitude Helikite balloon, flown on a tether from the roof of a car-park-slash-art-space called Bold Tendencies in London. GoPro cameras beam down aerial footage via a Raspberry Pi, and an darknet router provides a secure, local connection point where anyone can upload and exchange files.

Public Sensor Commons: The Right to Flight
Public Sensor Commons: The Right to Flight

Video from the balloon is released to the public, subverting the typical surveillance paradigm. To demonstrate how an “eye in the sky” can be put to meaningful public use, Bridle will use data and observations from the balloon to update publicly-edited mapping software like OpenStreetMap and Walking Papers. It’s an example of how the same technologies that feel creepy and Big Brother-ish in the hands of an opaque government or corporate institution can feel liberating and creative when used collaboratively and transparently.

“Surveillance isn’t going away, so the first step is democratizing access to it and making what it’s doing more transparent.”

The rooftop “hangar” from which the balloon is launched also houses a technical workshop and exhibition space for the project. The installation is open to the public evenings and weekends.

See the video below to learn more, or visit Bridle's website for more work from one of the great thinkers exploring the IoT and how its technologies are shaping the world.

Related: Internet of Things Privacy Threats and Countermeasures,Artist Project Site, FastCo Article, Vice Article,Venue Project Profile

Image Credits: James Bridle and Ben Blossom


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