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Pecha kucha is dead - click opera
February 2010
 
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Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 12:00 am
Pecha kucha is dead

You heard me. Dead. Do you really need it spelled out in blood and sperm by a designer with a small but well-connected captive audience, 20 slides, and 20 seconds of slick narrative for each? What do you want, circle jerks and seppuku? Go home, you sick rubbernecking thrillseeker. It's over.

What do you mean, "What's pecha kucha, then?" I am stunned. Have you been wearing earphones all year? Are you one of those Prim Jims who doesn't know what's going on until Time magazine calls Mr Jean Snow in to explain it?

That's right, Jean Snow. Cool as jingle bells. Fast as the white stuff. He knows what pecha kucha is even if you don't, Mr Jones. His blog has exactly 470 references to it. He's the man who broke it all down for Time and Metropolis, way back... must've been this summer. Went to his first pecha kucha night in October 2005. Of course, Pingmag were there from May 2005. No moss on those rolling stones.

Who's cooler than Snow and the Pings? Only Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, Tokyo-based architects, really. They're so cool that they actually invented pecha kucha, back in 2003. It was a way to fill their Roppongi club, SuperDeluxe. I used to go there before pecha kucha existed, and I can tell you, there was just tumbleweed in that basement back then. Tumbleweed, crickets and a couple of blokes with rucksacks drinking Australian organic beer.

Pecha kucha changed all that. Now, on the last Wednesday of each month, there's just wall-to-wall fitted designers, and some guy at the front impressing the hell out of everyone. It's better than karaoke, because you speak instead of singing, and instead of some stupid video of a girl wandering along a beach there are still pictures of products you can buy, or people in Mongolia showing you some really nice stickers on their cellphones.

The name comes from the Japanese phrase for the sound of people chattering. Pecha kucha, pecha kucha, pecha kucha -- say it a few times, say it with friends, and it really will sound like conversation (but passersby will think you're an Ayurvedic sect). It's based on Show and Tell, and the mukokuseki diasporans like to think of it as really Japanese, but actually nobody at Japanese schools does Show and Tell. It's just too individualistic, too Me-Me-Me.

In fact, true blue Japanese would probably think most pecha kucha sessions -- shameless self-promotion by people who make a revolutionary new type of rubberized paperclip or wear lederhosen as a statement about race -- were pure boasting. (Jiman jiman is the Japanese word for the sound of boasting, by the way.)

Pecha kucha spread like bird flu. Which means that not many people died of it, but it turned up everywhere. There are now pecha kucha nights in London, New York, Rotterdam, Berlin... wherever there are unemployed designers desperate for an audience, in fact. There's one in Hobart Tasmania. I kid you not. They even had one in Pyongyang, but Kim Jong Il refused to give up the mic when his Apple Keynote presentation ended. Eventually, after a synchronized dance routine featuring thousands of schoolgirls making the dictator's face appear in the air with swirling pink ribbons, everyone just went home.

Have I ever been to a pecha kucha night? Jesus god no. I have better things to do with my time. (Although I've just spent six hours trying to come up with a theme that would link the photos you see on this page. I couldn't think of one.) Anyway, didn't I mention that the whole thing was dead? But here's what my spy says. My spy is James Goggin, the designer who made my lovely Ocky sleeve. I've made him sound fashionably negative by cutting out all the positive things he said. He'll thank me for that eventually.

"The London nights seem a bit too insular, more on an industrial design and architecture slant than really representing an interesting cross-section of what's happening in London (where are the musicians, contemporary artists, writers, curators etc?). As such I felt a bit out of place there... Time restrictions are definitely enforced, purely because they have Apple Keynote running on a timer. You provide your slides a week beforehand, they get them all in order along with professional little jazzy type animations announcing the next speaker as interstitial 'stings' (this really does give the impression now that Pecha Kucha is becoming more a branded franchise than an informal get-together or 'happening').

"I completely got the timing all mixed up in spite of my practising. Partly because I attempted to condense my hour-long "Your Colour Process: Colour Systems in Everyday Life" pop culture colour theory lecture into the allotted 6 minutes... I belatedly realised that trying to relay the story of Apple's rainbow logo possibly being a homage to persecuted government scientist and godfather of modern computing Alan Turing who killed himself by taking a bite from an apple injected with strychnine into a single 20 second slide doesn't work.

"Two recent furniture design graduates showed up with porn images overlaid with their work, which was mildly funny for one slide, then attracted heckling for the rest... One architect was completely hammered by the time he came on stage, slurring and swearing through his set on stream-of-consious rant against clients."

I'll spare you the gory details of the sad, ugly, bloody death of pecha kucha. It's weepy, pants-round-the-ankles stuff. Just take my word for it: the whole thing was stone cold by August 32nd. But the New York Times will still make "Pecha Kucha" its Word of the Year. Just as soon as someone mails them twenty slides and a cassette tape about it.


This blog entry is also available as a Pecha kucha presentation (mono mp3 file, 1.4MB, 2 mins 58secs).

32CommentReplyShare

xmirkkax
xmirkkax
foggy eyes
Thu, Nov. 30th, 2006 10:38 pm (UTC)

Link you might find interesting :)
http://www.com-pa-ny.com/#


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xishimarux
xishimarux
ishimaru
Thu, Nov. 30th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)

20 slides and a cassette tape to NYT. Classic.


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charleshatcher
charleshatcher
charleshatcher
Thu, Nov. 30th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)

Psst!... It was an apple injected with cyanide, not strychnine!


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desant012
||||||||||
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)

I think everything's so boring these days because everyone wants to be the one that hits it big, that joins the ranks of the Establishment. What ever happened to the weirdos out there? 99% of those ID hacks are following what a handful of weirdos did in the 50s-70s anyway.

Whatever - all the creative communities could stand to have a good injection of something exciting these days.


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)

an uncanny device to trap all designer scum under one roof.


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)

On that audio presentation, I suspect you have altered the clip in order to sound like you're talking really fast, right?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 11:11 am (UTC)

No, that's just how I sound when I get nervous. Like an epileptic woodchuck.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC)

Yes, there were many pecha kucha nights here in buenos aires, too.
I never went, cause I always got that feeling you just said, shameless self-promotion of some designer trying to be cooler than you. That's a boring night then.


Juan


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 02:00 pm (UTC)

Yes, what I wouldn't give for an evening of shameful designers making unimpressionable design.

ƒ


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perfectheat
perfectheat
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)

You should make all of your future post available in audio. Then people can listen to them on the bus home or while working. Efficiency is king someone ones said.

There are blogs out there that let's you select text and have it read back to you. But then we will loose your voice. Maybe you can make the robo-voice sound scottish.


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charleshatcher
charleshatcher
charleshatcher
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)

Yes, and when will you jump on the YouTube vlog bandwagon? Don't you know that nonverbal communication is all the rage? Still no haptics sadly, but Japan is no doubt solving that problem as I type.


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nicepimmelkarl
.
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)

bye bye pecha kucha...diamond geezer i reckon.... visit ya soon...NPK


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC)

Du Wei Gieaschidt


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dubow_org
dubow_org
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)

The PK I went to in London back in June was fantastic. True there was a strong bias towards architecture,but it was part of the Architecture Biennale. Only few designers boasted about their work, and the best ones were the ones where the designer just showed slides of things he/she was interested in at the time. The night was so good that even my non-design orientated friends managed to sustain interest, and lasted the whole evening without a drop of alcohol.

If what you say is true then I am very much mourning its death.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)

I'm just kidding about it being dead, it's a re-enactment of my famous essay saying Shibuya-kei was dead -- at the height of Shibuya-kei's popularity. Well, just after the peak.

Really, I think it's great that isolated designers are able to get out from behind their computers, go to a dark room, and sit behind someone else's computer for a while.


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grzeg
grzeg
grzeg
Fri, Dec. 1st, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Pecha kucha, pecha kucha, pecha kucha...

Has Pecha Kucha become like Tokyo?

“5% ‘Architecture’ with the capital ‘A’, and the rest utter rubbish” - Mark Dytham

What better place to have a microcosmic representation of the city than in SuperDeluxe? (at least they have good micro-brewed beer…)

Seriously though, Pecha Kucha is not for everyone. Just like anything, there will be some who think that it’s the most banal thing in the world.

For some it can be socially binding and for people in design (specifically, architecture) that seems to be beneficial; it’s nice to have an audience other than the same twenty peers from studio or the firm, and considering how many actually enjoy it, be it a naïve experience or not, it can be fun. Yes, it’s partially theatrical, but it’s in a lounge/bar space – it’s intended to be relaxed and irregular to a degree of a certain professionalism (too bad about that ranting drunk).

Here’s what one of my colleagues said about a Pecha Kucha night in Buffalo, NY (!):

“Creativity is spawned by this kind of interaction amongst others - you come, you present, you listen, you see, you hear, you taste, you touch, you leave it and think (or not).”


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Dec. 3rd, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC)
Deja vu

We did this in the 80s in Chicago. It was called Persimmons and Myrhh. But you got 13 minutes instead of 6. There was also a gallery series then called 11 Minutes Max wherein performance artists got that amount of time to ... perform. That was answered in turn by a rival gallery's 11 Seconds Max. Both were pretty fabulous, but I do recall the latter being much funnier.

And thanks for the Pecha kucha version of this blog. It got my boyfriend's dog to finally vacate my reading chair and run out of the room.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Dec. 7th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
PKN

Ladran, Sancho.
Señal de que cabalgamos...


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 3rd, 2007 10:06 am (UTC)
scathing

"I'll spare you the gory details of the sad, ugly, bloody death of pecha kucha. It's weepy, pants-round-the-ankles stuff. Just take my word for it: the whole thing was stone cold by August 32nd. But the New York Times will still make "Pecha Kucha" its Word of the Year. Just as soon as someone mails them twenty slides and a cassette tape about it."


Scathe! Scathe, I say!


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