Thoughtworks Arts


Dilate Ensemble Presents CATENA at CounterPulse

Newsletter sent on Friday, 25 February 2022
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As part of their Improvising the Net(Work) residency Dilate Ensemble presented CATENA on January 13th and 14th at CounterPulse. This hybrid audio-visual performance took place both live online and in-person.

A livestream of CATENA at CounterPulse

CATENA, a non-looping visual and densely textured sound environment allows performers and audience members to experience livestreams from two different physical locations inside CounterPulse’s Tenderloin District building, located in San Francisco. Due to the Covid pandemic, music and movement performances also occurred remotely and were seamlessly mixed live time. CATENA explored what the imprint of a physical space, and the bodies within it can be.

Dilate Ensemble built a customized network throughout the course of their 16-week residency. The network linked different sound environments within the CounterPulse building by sending their audio feeds for processing to electronic musician Scott Miller, remotely based in Minnesota. Sonic variables like amplitude, frequency, physical characteristics of the room, speaker placement, and microphones impacted simple behaviors producing complex layered outcomes. CounterPulse’s upstairs studio, as well as the dedicated project space in the basement were animated by the audio-reactive video projection installations of artist Carole Kim. For this event Dilate Ensemble was also joined by special guest, dancer and choreographer Shinichi Iova-Koga.

Dancer Shinichi Iova-Koga in the studio
A still from CATENA with dancer Shinichi Iova-Koga, photo by Robbie Sweeny

To learn more about Dilate Ensemble and CATENA, join us for a free virtual panel discussion with Dilate Ensemble and special guest NowNet Arts Director Sarah Weaver on Saturday March 5, 1pm PST, 4PM EST. To secure your spot and receive the zoom link, RSVP now.

h0t club Presents at CounterPulse on March 10th / 5PM (PT)

Improvising the Net(Work) residents h0t club, featuring Miller Puckette (author of PureData), Kate Bergstrom, and Martim S. Galvão, will present online and in-person at CounterPulse. This experimental multimedia work explores how our desire for connection and delicious treats entangles us with networks of information technologies. Free ice cream will then be dished out post-performance.

An orange traffic cone sits on a robot with wheels, approaching a “Circus Man” ice cream freezer
A still from the installation - Photo credit: Martim S Galvão

As part of their 16-week residency begun in the fall of 2021, h0tclub is developing performing robots who respond to numerous sensors and cameras placed throughout CounterPulse’s project space, communicating with one another via a wireless network. This hybrid virtual/physical network of human and non-human agents is influenced and guided by the emergent behaviors of the system’s inhabitants.

Thursday, March 10th’s virtual showing features a work-in-progress of the three performers and three robots throughout a 25 minute experience. The livestream lets audiences from the comfort of their homes use the chat function to control the performers and robots in real-time. RSVP now to secure your place.

Join the livestream via the CounterPulse Twitch channel.

h0t club will also have a world premiere of their piece on May 7th as part of the CounterPulse Gala. Stay tuned for updates.

Forbes: How Thoughtworks Arts Drives Innovation

Forbes published the article What Is The Value Of An Artist? For Tech Consultancy Thoughtworks — It’s A Lot, by Benjamin Wolff. The article spotlights Thoughtworks Arts in detail, describing how we incubate art and technology innovation and how this empowers both technologists and artists.

A screenshot of the Forbes article headline with the text “What Is The Value Of An Artist? For Tech Consultancy Thoughtworks—It’s A Lot” and a picture of an AI-generated artwork by Nouf Aljowaysir

Featured was Synthetic Media resident Nouf Aljowaysir’s project Salaf, illustrating how developers at Thoughtworks helped her explore bias in AI and neural networks through the lens of her Saudi ancestry.

“I was trying to create my own nuanced data set. And I said to him, ‘I don’t know about that.’ But then I thought, ‘Okay, why not? Let’s try it.’ And so we tried it out and we found a lot of bias. For example, it didn’t recognize a hijab, and got all the features wrong. Or it would just show a lot of bias towards Western faces. That was a key moment.” - Nouf Aljowaysir

Our co-directors Andrew McWilliams and Ellen Pearlman explained how incubation between artists and technologists pushes boundaries and creates work that drives critical questions.

A core element behind our successful incubations is Thoughtworkers, now more than 10,000 employees in 48 offices across 17 countries. Thoughtworkers are embedded in Thoughtworks Arts project incubations throughout our global operations, working with international partners to bring artists’ visions to life.

“When you bring these groups of people together from different backgrounds it provides a richer experience for the artists. That’s one of the things they’ll often comment on. They’ve never worked with such an international group.” - Andrew McWilliams

Thoughtworks CEO Chris Murphy shared his view that incubating artists helps drive innovation and is a powerful part of Thoughtworks’ forward-looking culture.

“When you see breakthrough innovation, it tends to happen on the edge of things, on the edge of chaos,” said Murphy. “And that’s because it involves rethinking how something is looked at or perceived or thought about from an entirely new perspective.”

“Thoughtworks Arts brings together technologist and artist at the intersection of sociological challenges. It says, ‘What might happen if we apply this technological innovation to this pressing social challenge—and connect this artist, who comes from a very different background, with this set of technologists?” - Chris Murphy

Andy Slater Receives United States Artist Award: UNBOUND

Andy Slater, who will begin his CripTech residency at Thoughtworks Arts this spring, has received the prestigious United States Artists - UNBOUND Fellowship Award, in media.

Andy Slater next to the United States Artists logo
United States Artists logo and photo of Andy Slater

The USA Fellowship is a $50,000 unrestricted award, granted to 63 artists, thinkers, and makers, who represent communities across 23 states and Puerto Rico. The awardees are creative vanguards whose work and vision have made an uplifting impact on both their communities and specific disciplines.

The UNBOUND logo
The United States Artists logo and stylized text saying “Unbound” in all caps

Andy, a Chicago-based media artist, sound designer, teaching artist, and disability advocate who is sight impaired, was recognized for his work that focuses on advocacy for accessible art and technology, alt text for sound and image, and spatial audio for extended reality.


Ellen Pearlman will participate in a panel at Horasis, on Art and Cultural Diplomacy, on March 4th, 2022. Horasis’ mission is to enact visions for a sustainable future and includes thought leaders from around the globe. In December 2021, Ellen’s interactive work AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Brainwave Opera) was included in an exhibition for Vertigo STARTS Europe in Estonia. Ellen lectured at the Polish Japanese Academy of Computer Information in Warsaw Poland “Can An AI Be Fascist?”, and taught a Master Classe at their XR Lab as part of her Fulbright Specialist posting to Poland. She then presented “Is There A Place In Human Consciousness Where Surveillance Cannot Go? “ at Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Łaźnia’s New Horizons In New Media conference in Gdansk, on November 17th. Ellen explored themes of surveillance Artificial Intelligence and shared her interactive brainwave opera, AIBO. She also gave a lecture at Lalka Nova’s New Meanings of Puppet In Theatre & Performative Art Conference in Wroclaw on Nov. 6th. She delivered a Keynote speech on “Gaslight Narratives In Virtual Space” at The 6th International Conference of the European Narratology Network in Riga, Latvia (online) on September 16th, and then taught Master Classes at the MPLab of RISEBA and Liepaja University, in Latvia in late November.

Andrew McWilliams moderated Dialogue: Techart & Climate on September 23rd. This panel event was part of the Art-A-Hack / BeFantastic program series. Andrew also presented at BeFantastic Together Dialog #1 where he shared past community-based collaborations, how they drive innovation and social impact, and the ethos behind organizing the BeFantastic fellowship.

News from Past Thoughtworks Arts Residents

Adrianne Wortzel received publication for her art-book series SEE NO EVIL, and inclusion in the exhibition: DAILY RITUAL curated by Amanda McDonald Crowley, at the Center For Book Arts, January 14 - March 26, 2022.

Rashin Fahandej was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction in Digital Music and Sound Art for A Father’s Lullaby. The project was incubated as part of Rashin’s residency at Thoughtworks Arts.

Updates from Art-A-Hack™ Alumni

Eva Lee presented Hearing a Who: Dr. Seuss, the Nature of Mind, and Intelligent Technology on February 16th at the Through A Different Lens: Innovation Lab Lecture Series, Fairfield University College of Arts and Sciences Innovation Lab in partnership with Quick Center for the Arts. Eva recently received an Official Selection from Cannes Short Film Festival 2021 and NewFilmmakers NY Festival 2021 for her short animated film, Sojourner.

Heidi Boisvert & Kat Mustatea’s immersive, mixed-reality performance “Lizardly” was a part of Max Media Art Exploration’s programming, and premiered at New York Live Arts.

Max Haarich (Deepfakes Masterclass ‘19) recently received the Prize for Interaction and the SAAI Factory Award for Participation for Smart Hans - The Mind-Reading A.I. Horse that can “guess” what number you’re thinking. This project was incubated at our Deepfakes MasterClass with Baltan Laboratories.

Rena Anakwe received the 2021 Canadian Women Artists’ Award from NYFA on August 24th. Most recently, Anakwe was awarded a 2021-2022 MacDowell Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Arts and a 2022 Jack Nusbaum Artist Residency at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).


Ellen Pearlman: AI Comes of Age - Performance Arts Journal (PAJ), MIT Press, Dance for Transformation: “DANCEDEMIC” AlumniTies, Medium. 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.

Ellen Pearlman: AI Comes of Age - Performance Arts Journal (PAJ), MIT Press, Dance for Transformation: “DANCEDEMIC” AlumniTies, Medium. 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.

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