Saturday, April 25, 2009
Pecha Kucha Night
The Pecha Kucha Night concept is simple. A presenter shows 20 slides for 20 seconds each. The total show is 6 minutes and 40 seconds. It's like show and tell but with cocktails. The original presenters were architects and designers and artists who would meet up to show their works or works in progress, but now anything creative or informative goes -- a travel slide show, a collection of hairstyles, a community history, even the many applications of gum tape in the streets of Japan. The format is designed to show as many works as possible without dragging on the time, and the good thing is that if a presenter is boring, at least they'll only be boring for less than seven minutes. But they are rarely boring.
Me and Akira
Last Wednesday I went to Pecha Kucha 61 at Super Deluxe, a subterranean creative space located next to Roppongi Hills. Akira Uchimura, who I knew virtually from my work at Discover Nikkei, was scheduled as one of the presenters. This was the first time we met and he introduced me to his crew. Like him, they were Latin American Nikkei now living in Tokyo. Akira's presentation was about Latin American Nikkei and his website NikkeiPortal.com.
Akira's presentation at Super Deluxe
There was a 1,000 yen entrance fee (about $10), and that included a drink. The space was great because they had four projectors set up so everyone could see and had just put in a brand new sound system earlier that day that made it easy to hear. In keeping with the 20/20 format, the event started at 20:20. The MC's were Astrid and Mark of Klein Dytham Architecture in Tokyo. They originated the Pecha Kucha Night concept in 2003 and it has now grown to encompass 189 cities. There were a dozen or so presenters including Akira. A Fulbright scholar named Erika Nishizato was the first to go. She introduced her research on "surface" -- the visual nature of things in Japan or the nature of visual things, I don't know, it's a scholarly thing. There were artists and designers. And a girl who was into hooping (they're not called hula hoops people!) even did a demonstation. I thought it was cool that she learned how to do it by watching YouTube. The presentations were a mixture of English and Japanese. There was a presentation of an eco living magazine called eco + waza. And there was the gum tape guy.
Astrid, MC and co-creator of Pecha Kucha Night
That night I got to meet some of the presenters. I met Deanna, the hooping girl. She co-runs a website called Tokyo Made that I am familiar with from when I had my Japanese fashion site. So it was cool to meet up with her and Masao (the other half). My favorite was artist Miu Kiuchi. At first glance, her work looks like an abstract painting. But you have to take a step back to see that it's really a close up photograph of a city street or rusted metal and chipped paint. What a brilliant eye! I asked her to sign one of her postcards for me and she said that was the first time anyone asked her to sign anything. Yea me!