Uh, Oh! Artists in London Mistaken for Terrorists

06/27/2012 10:16 AM |


  • Photo courtesy of OLGV via Instagram

In just a month, London will host the Summer 2012 Olympic Games. Get ready for noisy fanfare, tight spandex—and heightened security measures. On Friday, a trio of art-minded architects and designers were held up at London’s Southend Airport under suspicion of terrorist activity. The group, Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, were interrogated over the contents of their most recent art project, which they had stowed away in their luggage.

The group was headed back to London from Dublin, where they had performed the night before as part of Dublin’s Hack the City festival. While there, they demonstrated their recent project Electric Countermeasures, a group of low-flying drones that glow like little UFOs when anyone uploads a file to their network. Think: flying Wi-Fi hubs all across the city.

The police didn’t know about the art project. And art’s not the first thing that comes to mind when stumbling across wires, parts, and drones in a suitcase. After police scanned the suitcases, the group was taken into custody.

After hours of interrogation on Friday, Liam Young, one of the group’s founders, tweeted that the group had been released from police custody, but noted new legal issues that had arisen.

Flying our drones is unregulated + unlicensed at the moment. This won’t last long. Low level airspace will become exceptionally controlled.

What happened to these artists could prove to be more than an isolated incident: The Guardian reports that in preparation for the London Olympics comes “the biggest biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war.”

Yikes. Until the Olympics hoopla is over, leave your drones at home.