Thoughtworks Arts


New Robotics, AI, and Climate Change projects at Thoughtworks Arts

Newsletter sent on Friday, 14 September 2018
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This summer we were thrilled to host a Special Edition Art-A-Hack in collaboration with The Volumetric Society, the Human Impacts Institute and the New York City College of Technology (City Tech).

People speaking to a room with microphones
Final presentations at Thoughtworks NYC

Four teams met over four Saturdays to create projects around two parallel issues.

  • Climate Change: Data & Disinformation
  • Emotionally Intelligent Artificial Intelligence & Brain-Computer Interfaces

Following the hacking sessions, each team presented their project and initial prototypes in a final showcase at Thoughtworks NYC.

Exploring climate change issues were the teams Climate Consciousness and Another World. On the emotionally intelligent AI & BCI track we had The Accessible Brain team and Sentimental Feeling / Second Skin. Stay tuned for project write-ups and videos this fall!

Updates from our Robotics Residency

Artist Adrianne Wortzel has been exploring the movements and in-built motion of Reach Robotics’ MekaMon robot as part of her Thoughtworks Arts Residency. The MekaMon is a multi-functional, connected, battle bot with augmented reality capabilities. She also recently gave a talk about her work with the MekaMon, which runs on Swift, at the Brooklyn Swift Meetup.

A youtube link with a performer and robot
Adrianne Wortzel’s exploration of the MekaMon Robot

Resident Catie Cuan spoke at the symposium ‘Humanities Innovators in a Tech World,’ hosted by the University of Arizona College of Humanities. Tune in at 1:17:00 to hear her discuss her robotics work. Recently, she performed an excerpt of her work Time to Compile featuring two human performers and the NAO robot at the Dance NOW Festival at Joe’s Pub. Catie will be performing again in Brooklyn for the 10th Annual Collaborations in Dance Festival at Triseklion Arts on Friday, September 14th.

A youtube link with Catie Cuan and a robot
A preview of Catie Cuan’s new piece ‘OUTPUT’

Both residents worked with Consortium for Research and Robotics, where they had the opportunity to explore different projects relating to the ABB IRB 6700 industrial robot arm. Check out our blog post for more detail on their work with industrial robotics and human interaction at CRR.

How to Make a Neural Net

In this short video Thoughtworks engineer Angelica Perez discusses how to create a data set for AI. Angelica worked as the lead developer with Karen Palmer on her immersive film, RIOT. Angelica overviews how they developed a neural network to predict emotion through facial expression for the emotionally responsive artificial intelligence behind the film.

A vimeo link with a person writing on a whiteboard

Angelica also recently published two posts on her work with Karen: the first, an introduction to the field of Facial Expression Recognition (FER), and the second describing the design and uses of EmoPy, the FER toolkit developed RIOT.

Learn More About the Thoughtworks Arts Programs

We have published two in-depth articles describing our suite of arts programs and how they are connected to innovation at Thoughtworks.

Developers writing on a white board
Thoughtworks developers working on EmoPy for Karen Palmer’s RIOT

Learn about How Artists Are Reshaping Emerging Technology Research and How Art Programs Drive Innovation at Thoughtworks to understand more about our programs and the types of valuable insights they help us uncover.

Dr. Ellen Pearlman at RIXC Art Science Festival

Thoughtworks Arts Director Dr. Ellen Pearlman is Conference co-chair for the 3rd Open Fields Conference, GLOBAL CONTROL at RIXC Art Science Festival in Riga, Latvia.

A RIXC flyer

During the conference Ellen is giving a keynote lecture, Total Control and Fragile Networks.

Follow Thoughtworks Arts on Medium

We have launched a new Thoughtworks Arts Medium Publication! Come check it out for fresh and original content from the Thoughtworks Arts team and network.

A screenshot of the Thoughtworks Arts Medium profile

Also, please help support our new Medium by following and sharing the publication and giving us claps on the pieces you love!

Updates from Art-A-Hack Alumni

Filmmaker and entrepreneur Lisa Russell recently gave a talk at TEDxAshburyPark on what inspired her to create StoryShifter, a new entertainment portal for the social good, powered by machine learning and data analytics.

A woman on a TEDx stage

She is also hosting a weekend workshop on Immersive Storytelling for the Global Good October 13th and 14th in NYC.

Media artist and filmmaker Annie Berman is working on two new films: The Faithful, a feature length essay film exploring the legacy of Elvis Presley, Pope John Paul II, and Princess Diana, and Berlin: Underneath, a VR film using 360 degree video technology to create an immersive viewing experience of Berlin, Germany. She recently screened her film Street Views for the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and her new work, East/West is currently on view at Flux Factory as part of the S.T.E.P. show in Long Island City.

Aaron Trocoloa will present a creative showcase of modern aesthetics, digital fabrication, and wearable electronics, showing jewelry, accessories and fashion-tech in FUTURE FASHION at World Maker Faire NYC on September 22nd at 5pm.

Dr. Kate Sicchio started as an Assistant Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, where she will be teaching an interdisciplinary live coding class this fall.

Artist and programmer Gene Kogan taught a workshop this summer on Machine Learning For Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong School of Creative Media.

In August Gal Nissim with support by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and the Culture & Animals Foundation presented The Synanthrope Preserve: The Washing Bear, a 35-minute audio experience that guided listeners through Central Park at night to discover both natural and manmade features often overlooked or invisible during the day.

Directors and Alumni News


Saunter Trek Escort Parade… (S.T.E.P.)
September 6 - 30, 2018
FLUX Factory
Long Island City, NY

Sofy Yuditskaya (Art-A-Hack Alum)
Fragile Latitudes: An Exploration of Remote Geographies
September 13 - 29, 2018
Step Gallery, Arizona State University
Phoenix, Az

Heather Dewey-Hagborg (Past Resident)
The Future Starts Here
May 12 - November 12, 2018
The V&A Museum
London, England

Daejeon Biennale
July 16 - October 24, 2018
Daejeon Museum of Art
Daejon, Korea

Probably Chelsea
August 17 - September 30, 2018
Kunsthall 3.14
Bergen, Norway


Neil Harbisson (Part Resident)
Cyborg Neil Harbisson Hears Colours and Says We’re all Just Shades of Orange
Stuff: Tech and Gadgets Demystified


Ellen Pearlman (Director)
Keynote Speaker: Total Control and Fragile Networks
RIXC Art Science Festival
September 14th, 2018 5 PM
Riga, Latvia

Annie Berman (Art-A-Hack Alum)
Film Screening: Street Views
Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective
Syndicated BK, Brooklyn, NY

Neil Harbisson (Past Resident)
Adexus Day Chile 2018
Santiago de Chile, Chile

Moon Ribas (Past Resident)
Cologne, Germany

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