|Pecha Kucha Makes PowerPoint an Art Form|
|Written by Rob Anspach|
|Monday, 20 September 2010 10:01|
Global Phenomenon Hits Dayton October 1 @ Firefly Building
by Libby Ballengee, Dayton photographer and hip creative
These words actually escaped my lips the first time I heard about Pecha Kucha in Dayton. I was intrigued by the idea of this event, but it seemed too embarrassing to attend something I couldn’t pronounce. I also wasn’t sure what Pecha Kucha was, or what would be expected of me if I went.
Thankfully, the Creative Crux provided an avenue for me to explore this exciting creative trend.
First things first. Pecha Kucha is pronounced "peh-CHAK-cha," the Japanese term for the sound of conversation, or chitchat. This title is a quirky description of the event: a dynamic get-together where a number of artists (and regular people) present their creative work.
Here’s the clever part: the presenters use the much-maligned PowerPoint – but with some strict rules. Each presenter shows only 20 slides, for 20 seconds each, equaling roughly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. If you’ve sat through longer presentations, you’ll understand just how inspired this idea is!
Pecha Kucha was started by two architects in Tokyo looking for a medium to showcase their work. They invented the “20x20” concept, and 7 years later, it’s become a global phenomenon, occurring in 330 cities worldwide.
For the past year, Dayton has been one of those cities, thanks to Jill Davis, Dayton’s Pecha Kucha coordinator. Jill was kind enough to take time to answer my questions:
Libby: What’s a Pecha Kucha event like? What can people expect?
Jill: Pecha Kucha is like walking into a friendly café or bar, knowing that you’ll see a few friends and hear something worth talking about. There’s food and drink, the opportunity to sit, stand, lean, mingle, and discuss the ideas presented. The crowd is allowed to move about and connect with friends during the presentations, but so far our audiences prefer to save the mingling for the beer break.
Libby: What topics are generally discussed?
Jill: Design, art and architecture predominate, but I’ve seen people show personal photos and adventures, vintage collections, garden journals, lists of their creative influences, and stories of people they admire. A nurse told of her trip to Haiti; we’ve seen photos of fashion shows and urban renewal projects; I presented a “How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea.”
Libby: How did you become interested in Pecha Kucha? I understand you’re a writer, but this is visual medium – why did it appeal to you?
Jill: I’m a writer and an introvert. But I have always fantasized about hosting a salon, like Madame de Recamier, bringing people together to share creative ideas in a social atmosphere. The modern version of that is Pecha Kucha – having a party and meeting some really cool people while raising the level of dialogue a bit. I didn’t think I myself would present.
Libby: Is this extension of your creative work, or philanthropic work, or both?
Jill: I did it for the above reasons, and by happy accident it became tied into Dayton’s very amazing urban renewal energies. PK reflects this very interesting time and place.
Libby: What inspired you to start this in Dayton?
Jill: My then-colleague and fellow Toastmaster, Brian Petro, told me about it, and Kate Ervin, then a City Planner, encouraged it. Plus, I realized that Dayton right now is fertile ground for any kind of creative effort, and I wanted the experience of leading one.
Libby: How does this event help manifest creativity?
Jill: The 20x20 format provides the boundaries that any creative needs to get its central point across. Since creativity springs from a belief, or experience or idea, this allows a concise exposure to that. It forces the creator to articulate.
Libby: What are you hoping to accomplish through this medium, either for yourself or the creative community as a whole?
Jill: I think lots of people like myself labor in the arts and might be shy, but want to share. They are doing some bold and surprising things you would never guess unless you said to them, “Hey, you have an interesting point of view! Share some of your thoughts!” This format does not require any polish, either. This is also a networking event where you can share information about you and your work as people mingle.
Libby: What has been the most inspiring idea you’ve seen at a Pecha Kucha event?
Jill: Hmm, there’ve been some awfully good ones. When Jason Sheets (an architect) made wicked fun of his own profession and its practitioners, or when Mary Rogero explained how Funk originated in Ohio, or Carli Dixon’s family gardening journal.
Libby: How does this PK fit into the creative community in Dayton?
Jill: It helps keep us from being isolated in our work, and provides an opportunity for sharing not just your work but your thoughts and observations around work and life. Again, without any great seriousness or formality.
Libby: How can this help DCS members? How can people get involved?
Jill: You have the opportunity to show a different creative side of yourself, you can network, or you can show your portfolio if you wish. The 20x20 format forces you to give better presentations, and to get involved. You can ask to present, preferably after you attended a Volume (each event is referred to as a “Volume”). If you want to get involved in other ways, you can volunteer to set up chairs, take money at the door, reach out to new pockets of the community in the pursuit of speakers, create a poster, or ask your company to sponsor the beer ($200).
My trepidations are officially cast aside, and I hope yours are too! If you’re interested in attending, the next PK event is Friday, October 1, on the roof of the Firefly Building, 123 Webster Street, at 7:00 pm. Admission is $5. Beer, snacks and thought-provoking speakers are provided. Come mingle and enjoy!