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Episode 23: Translating enterprise blockchain innovation through art


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Listen to this IBM Blockchain Pulse Podcast episode and others on iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn and Stitcher.

Enterprise blockchain innovation through art

blockchain pulse

The IBM Blockchain Pulse has had a lot of extraordinary guests featured on the podcast so far. They’ve featured leaders in government and business, space tech executives and designers, as well as startup founders and seasoned executives alike. But, an artist is yet to make an appearance!

In today’s episode, our host Matt Hooper is joined by a multidisciplinary artist, Erin Zhao, who leads the conversation to an area of blockchain that IBM Blockchain Pulse has yet to delve into.

Joining the conversation, as well, is return guest, Nigel Gopie, Director of Artificial Intelligence Applications and Blockchain Marketing at IBM. In this episode, he helps to tell the story of the IBM collaboration with Erin and how they’ve managed to rethink the art consumption experience in our COVID-19 era.

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They also speak about the importance of interconnectedness, transparency, and trust, in Erin’s art and blockchain tech itself.

Key takeaways

[:00] An excerpt from today’s episode
[1:01] About today’s episode with Erin Zhao and Nigel Gopie
[2:36] Matt welcomes Erin and Nigel to the podcast
[2:59] What Nigel loves about innovative IBM clients and how they’re similar to artists.
[4:05] Erin speaks about her experience when she was first approached by IBM to collaborate on an artwork that was connected to the concept of blockchain. She shares what initially excited her about this opportunity and blockchain in general
[5:53] The name of the piece Erin created with IBM is “Interconnectedness.” Erin shares how the theme of interconnectedness has played a major role in her art in the past and why she is fascinated by the concept in relation to blockchain
[8:00] Nigel shares how he and Erin first came to connect on this project and what their earlier conversations about the project looked like.
[10:05] Prior to this project, has Erin always been fascinated by this intersection between art and technology?
[13:07] Nigel shares his thoughts on what the role of an artist is within the ecosystem of blockchain.
[15:00] About the IBM five-part webinar series: Blockparty.
[15:45] Erin describes what her art looks like, the materials she uses, and how it feels for her when she releases her art into the world.
[18:24] Nigel describes his favorite piece of Erin’s that drew him to her art.
[19:40] Matt reflects on the power of art — especially in this COVID era.
[21:06] On Erin’s art website, she writes that she is “…interested in bridging the tangible with the impalpable, in constructing space to encourage curiosity and to create tentative expressions from emotions that we experience but have difficulty putting into words.” She elaborates on what this means and how she creates the space within her art to encourage onlookers’ curiosity. Erin also takes listeners through her latest piece in collaboration with IBM, “Interconnectedness.”
[25:25] Nigel shares what he loved about Erin’s description of “Interconnectedness,” and how “Interconnectedness” really illustrates the concept of blockchain accurately.
[26:45] Erin elaborates on “Interconnectedness” and more of its fascinating background, layers, meaning, and how it connects to blockchain.
[27:45] Where to find Erin Zhao’s beautiful art online and see the piece, “Interconnectedness.”
[29:00] Matt gives his thanks to Erin and Nigel for joining this week’s edition of IBM Blockchain Pulse.

Sources mentioned

IBM Blockchain Pulse Ep. 7: “How Blockchain is Making Your Food Safer and Smarter” with Nigel Gopie
IBM Blockparty — A five-part webinar series bringing the transformative power of blockchain to life through art!

Follow-up with our guests

Erin Zhao’s Website
Erin Zhao’s Instagram
Nigel Gopie’s LinkedIn

Looking for more episodes?

Visit IBM Blockchain — and for news and updates, follow @IBMBlockchain on Twitter!


“I view … art and technology [as] tools for expression and communication. They both play such a significant role in helping us redefine or reimagine … reality. … I think, in a way, we are standing at the center of the intersection of art and technology, as the modern technologist becomes more accessible.” — Erin Zhao

“I think the relationship between art and technology [is becoming] more intertwined.” — Erin Zhao

“I am not illustrating things from life. I’m more interested in creating something that can receive or reflect our own emotions through it, or, something that doesn’t exist in the world in a physical form — meaning our feelings, emotions, or ideas.” — Erin Zhao

“The role of [art in the ecosystem of a new concept] is to make it accessible — especially … talking [of] emerging technologies. They’re not always in the hands of the public; they’re sometimes in the hands of the few. … Art democratizes that information sharing.” — Nigel Gopie

“Art … evokes emotion. I think the other aspect that we really wanted to showcase is these things that our clients are doing [are] a long road of change. They are pushing on the systems that have been in place, in some cases, for decades.” — Nigel Gopie

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