Thoughtworks Arts


The Democratization of AI via Blockchain Residency Awarded to Max Razdow, Ollie Razdow, and Jamie Zigelbaum

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Thoughtworks Arts new San Francisco based residency has been awarded to a team of three artists working across media with a focus on remote collaboration and distributed story-telling.

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

During their residency, Max Razdow, Ollie Razdow, and Jamie Zigelbaum will work together developing a generative story-telling project, titled, All Possible Pathways.

The project is a science fiction based narrative concerning A.I.’s future, co-authored and illustrated by Zigelbaum and M. Razdow and input into a decentralized public blockchain ledger. The blockchain based text will then be recomposed by O. Razdow through software coded at Thoughtworks Arts in San Francisco. It will output an audio visual interpretation that changes each time it appears. The artists believe their work both informs and challenges the relationship between AI, its democratization, and its social impacts.

The team will also receive additional support from both SnarkArt and SingularityNet.

Max Razdow is an artist, writer, and teacher living in Boston, MA. He has taught art practice and theory at New York University, University of Massachusetts and Lesley University, and has shown his drawings and text based works internationally, and co-founded the online art theory journal Speculative Arts Research.

Ollie Razdow is a programmer and electronic musician. Starting his journey in the world of music, he moved into programming by implementing sound synthesis programs from scratch. Moving on to a degree in computer science, from Boston University, he is now working on an interpreted language for sound synthesis.

Jamie Zigelbaum is an artist, designer, and engineer living in New York and Spain. He was the founding director of Midnight Commercial, a creative studio working across disciplines. In 2010, he received the Designer of the Future award from Design Miami/ Basel. He holds a Masters in Media Arts and Science from the MIT Media Lab.

The residency is scheduled to begin in San Francisco at the end of September, and will conclude at the end of January. Stay tuned for updates and insights on their developing project.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts’ Biennial Exhibits A Father’s Lullaby by Rashin Fahandej in Boston

The 2019 installment of ICA’s Biennial - James and Audrey Foster Prize exhibition, will showcase the work of four Boston-area artists, including Thoughtworks Arts current volumetric filmmaking resident, Rashin Fahandej

Photo of people sitting in front of projection screens displaying portraits
An installation shot of A Father’s Lullaby at ICA

Rashin’s multi-platform, community engaged interactive volumetric work, A Father’s Lullaby underscores the role of men in raising children and their absence due to the racial disparities in the criminal justice system with its direct impact on children, women and lower income communities. On Thu, Sep 26, at 7:00 PM Rashin and the other featured artists will come together for a public conversation at ICA, on life as visual artists, and to hear about their creative practices. Music and other activities are also planned throughout the evening to celebrate the exhibition.

Hardware Hack Lab Opens at Thoughtworks in Barcelona, Spain

An offshoot of the Hardware Hack Lab, which began in New York in 2013 is now live in Barcelona, Spain.

People sitting around a table, looking at computers. One has a VR headset on.
Hardware Hack Labers collaborating on a project in NYC.

The event which offers space, emerging tech and support (and dinner!) to the public for free has sparked many interesting collaborations among members over the years. New members are encouraged to bring a project, a toy, an idea, or to simply come in and see what others are doing.

We look forward to including Barcelona’s community in this program. Hardware Hack Lab Barcelona will meet at the Thoughtworks offices at Edifici Media-TIC Carrer de Roc Boronat 117, 8ª Planta, 08018 Barcelona, every other Wednesday at 6:30 PM

Former AI Resident Karen Palmer to Exhibit Perception iO at Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC

Artist Karen Palmer (TWA’18) who works in facial recognition and AI will be exhibiting her recent project Perception iO at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in NYC on September 20th.

Perception iO

Perception iO is a facial emotion detection and eye tracking immersive film. Karen teamed up with a dedicated team of programmers at Thoughtworks to develop Perception iO, and to integrate the Tobii Pro eye gazing hardware into her installation.

The project explores the intersection of AI, neuroscience, behavioral psychology, film, facial emotion detection, eye tracking, bias, and social justice. The immersive storytelling experience reveals how a person’s gaze and emotions influence their perception of reality. Participants are invited to analyze the data they calibrate in their mind to become aware of their subconscious behavior, implicit bias’ and the bias’ of AI networks.

Perception iO is an evolution of RIOT, the project Karen developed during her residency at Thoughtworks.

Director Ellen Pearlman and TWA’19 Resident Rashin Fahandej Selected for the ZERO1 American Arts Incubator 2020 program

We’re thrilled to announce that both Ellen Pearlman and Rashin Fahandej have been 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.

Lead Artists 2020 AAI

American Arts Incubator (AAI) is an exchange program created for new media and digital artists to collaborate with communities abroad, and to develop community-driven public art projects that address a multitude of challenges at the local level.

News from Past Thoughtworks Arts Residents

Moon Ribas is a jury member for this year’s Prix Ars Electronica.

Karen Palmer was the keynote at AT&TShape: Where AI Meets Next-Gen Immersive Storytelling. She was also interviewed by PCMag where they chatted about VR filmmaking and AI-powered storytelling. The article also included a GitHub link to the EmoPy code developed during her residency

Updates from Art-A-Hack™ Alumni

Sonya Yuditskaya installed her interactive sound sculpture Earth Bound Voyager Satelite in the temporary metropolis of Black Rock City during Burning Man 2019. This particular iteration was massive in scale, as she had the entire Black Rock Desert to work with. Sonya was included in our SPRING/BREAK exhibition for Armory Week in 2018 where she showed Relativity Five, a series of table-top heart sensing and reflecting light sculptures.

Gene Kogan will be teaching The Neural Aesthetic at ITP NYU this fall.

Sadah Espii is the sound designer for The Invention of Tragedy by Mac Wellman, directed by Meghan Finn and featuring The Bats. The play is going up at The Flea Theater. Tickets available.

Rena Anakwe, Artist-In-Resident at Issue Project Room, presented Fast Forward to Silence, her second commissioned project, on July 11th.


Person standing no stage
Julien Deswaef speaking at XConf in São Paulo, Brazil

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.

Snark.Art, our partner for the Democratization of AI via Blockchain, has been selected to exhibit their blockchain collaboration with artist Volkmar Klien at the premier of the Ars Electronica Festival - one of the leading art and technology events in the world.

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 is comprised of digital artists whose work challenges and investigates power structures.

Ellen Pearlman is presenting 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. September 19-22. Ellen also began her Vertigo STARTS Laureate Residency over the summer in Tallinn, Estonia where she is developing ABIO - an artificially intelligent, emotionally intelligent brainwave opera with the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Tallinn University and the Estonian Academy of Art. Ellen, on the scientific board for UN/GREEN: NATURALLY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, presented at the conference which took place July 4 - 6 in Riga, Latvia at The National Museum of Art and the Art Academy in Riga. She also presented a paper at the world renowned ISEA (International Society Of Electronic Art) 2019, on her work with connecting brain computer interfaces to AI. This year’s ISEA took place in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, June 22th-28th.

Andrew McWilliams was invited to give a lightning talk on the emotional detection and open source project, EmoPy, at Creative Tech Week NY in May. You can now watch a video of it online and learn about how it was developed, and the considerations that went into detecting emotions.


Ellen Pearlman: 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.

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