Thoughtworks Arts


Democratization of A.I. via Blockchain Residency Concludes in San Francisco

Newsletter sent on Tuesday, 4 February 2020
Subscribe here for updates like this.

The residency team of Max Razdow, Ollie Razdow, and Jamie Zigelbaum completed their 16-week residency in San Francisco on January 23rd.

Portraits of Max Razdow, Ollie Razdow, and Jamie Zigelbaum
Max Razdow, Ollie Razdow, and Jamie Zigelbaum

The three artists, who collectively work across an array of media, developed the distributed storytelling project All Possible Pathways based on remote collaboration using blockchain technology.

The team wrapped up with an internal presentation to Thoughtworks employees, and a public write-up of their project will appear on our website shortly.

Ellen Pearlman Presents at U.S. Fulbright Alumni Exchange Seminar

In December, director Ellen Pearlman presented in Santa Fe as a Fulbright World Learning Specialist at The US Fulbright Alumni Exchange Seminar. The four-day event brought Fulbright alumni whose work speaks to the issue “Art, Culture, and Transforming Conflict”.

An Alumni Ties promo graphic
Alumni TIES: Art, Culture, Transforming Conflict

Ellen presented “Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Arts”, highlighting Thoughtworks Arts programs that have promoted social change through their artistic and technology incubations.

The convening also focused on how to address local issues through the development of arts programming and networks of change. The Alumni group collaborated on future community-based projects for which the U.S. State Department will provide grants.

Our blog post explains more about AlumniTIES and all that Ellen has been instrumental in.

Recap: A Look Back at 2019

Thank you to everyone in our expansive community who collaborated, partnered, and helped move our many projects forward with support and insight - making 2019 a hugely successful year for Thoughtworks Arts.

An interior shot of the installation
Installation shot from A Father’s Lullaby

We couldn’t have predicted the reach so many of these important collaborations between artists, technologists, and our team would have, nor how developments would play out both publicly and within Thoughtworks. This feedback guides and inspires our vision moving forward.

And now, some highlights from this past year:


A woman watching the installation in a dark room
Perception IO at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum


  • Engadget - Dancing With Robots To Reimagine Machine Interaction
  • CLOT Magazine - Thoughtworks Arts Residency: Leveraging Corporate Resources for Art & Social Change
  • PBS NewsHour Features Thoughtworks Arts Resident & Interaction Technology.


Julien Deswaef presented at BS Festival ‘19 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The festival brought together creative tech minds from across the globe, all eager to expand the reach of engineer and art collaborations. On August 15th Julien also gave a talk at XConf, hosted at the renown MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo), on how collaborations between artists and engineers foster innovation in emerging technologies.

Rashin Fahandej was a speaker on the panel Disrupting the System during the Expanded Realities Symposium - Open City Documentary Festival in London, on September 6th. The panel line-up was comprised of digital artists whose work challenges and investigates power structures.

Ellen Pearlman speaking on a large stage
Ellen Pearlman giving the keynote at World Usability Day in Estonia

Ellen Pearlman gave the keynote at World Usability Day in Estonia this past November. Her presentation was on Creative Collaborations Between Art and Tech: Thoughtworks Arts. Ellen presented a paper at the New Media Caucus (part of CAA - The College Art Association) Symposium “Border Control” at the Penny Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from September 19th to 22nd.

Ellen also began her Vertigo Starts Laureate Residency over the summer in Tallinn, Estonia, where she’s developing ABIO - an artificially intelligent, emotionally intelligent brainwave opera with the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Tallinn University and the Estonian Academy of Art. AIBO premieres February 2020 at the Estonian Academy of Music’s brand new blackbox theater in Tallinn.

Ellen was on the scientific board for Un/Green: Naturally Artificial Intelligence and presented at the conference, which took place at The National Museum of Art and the Art Academy in Riga, Latvia July 4th - 6th. At the world-renowned ISEA (International Society Of Electronic Art), Ellen presented her work on connecting brain-computer interfaces to artificial intelligence. ISEA took place in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, June 22th-28th.

Andrew McWilliams presented at All Tech Is Human in October. He illustrated how artist and technologist collaborations at Thoughtworks Arts have helped build social impact projects. Andrew also gave a lightning talk on the emotional detection and open source project EmoPy at Creative Tech Week NY, in May. This video provides a good look at how the team focused their research and the many considerations that went into EmoPy’s development.

Hardware Hack Lab

In 2019 Hardware Hack Lab opened in Barcelona, and like it’s off-shoot (Hardware Hack Lab New York) is an open space for people to get hands-on with new technology.

Hardware Hack Lab in Barcelona

Hardware Hack Lab supplies a collection of hardware and is a friendly, inclusive environment to meet others and hack away.

Zero1 2020 Incubator

Both Ellen Pearlman and Rashin Fahandej were selected for the highly competitive ZERO1 American Arts Incubator 2020 program in collaboration with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Of the six artists selected, Ellen will be working in Ukraine and Rashin will be working in Austria.

News from Past Thoughtworks Arts Residents

Catie Cuan was highlighted in Dance Magazine’s predictions on what dance will look like in this decade - focusing on choreography that uses emerging technologies.

Rashin Fahandej was featured in an article by the Boston Globe on her exhibition at ICA Boston, and how A Father’s Lullaby “…moves easily from personal trauma to broader, systemic social failings without preaching…”

hannes bend was accepted into NEW INC with a Science Sandbox fellowship by The Simons Foundation.

Neil Harbisson was featured in an article by LaVanguardia about being a cyborg living with an antenna implanted in his skull with which he perceives infrared, ultraviolet and space images.

Updates from Art-A-Hack™ Alumni

Heidi J. Boisvert, (Art-A-Hack ‘18 City Tech partner) is measuring our unconscious response to media and gave a recent TEDTalk: How I’m using biological data to tell better stories - and spark social change. The Denver Center For The Performing Arts announced Heidi as part of the creative team behind the new immersive production Theater of the Mind. As the technology designer, she will be collaborating with co-creator David Byrne.

Zach Krall and Jason Levine were featured in a New York Times article about their live-coding performances.

Rena Anakwe presented the third and final work of her 2019 Issue Project Room residency with the premiere of Ogwu, an immersive purification ritual sculpted through a visual, sound and scent bath.


Ellen Pearlman: Cyborg Arts Co-Lab: Interdisciplinary Collaboration Enriched Through Art-A-Hack™ Practices -Art Hack Practice: Critical Intersections of Art, Innovation and the Maker Movement, 1st Edition, Edited by Victoria Bradbury and Suzy O’Hara, Routledge Publication. The Resurgence of Russian Cosmism - Performance Arts Journal(PAJ), MIT Press.

Catie Cuan, Ellen Pearlman, and Andrew McWilliams: Output: Translating Robot and Human Movers Across Platforms in a Sequentially Improvised Performance - From the 2019 AISB (The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour) Machine Movement Lab at Falmouth University, UK.

Blog Posts

Love this newsletter? Check out our archive, forward to your friends, and share our subscription sign up!