Innovating Through Artistry

What the Heck is Pecha Kucha?

In Author: Adam Shames on June 5, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Here’s a creative challenge for you: I’m going to give you a microphone and the undivided attention of a willing audience for about seven minutes. In advance I ask you to put together exactly 20 images–of anything you want–which will be projected on a large screen for exactly 20 seconds each. What would you share? What story might you want to tell?

This is Pecha Kucha Night (pronounced p’CHAH-k’CHAH, from the Japanese word for chit chat), an evening dedicated to adult show-and-tell, that has been spreading virally throughout the world in the past few years. Originally organized as a way for designers and architects to meet, network and share their work (without droning on too long), Pecha Kucha nights now are regular staples in 200 cities worldwide, including Chicago, where I got a chance to sample one this week at Martyrs’.

At least a few hundred people crowded together to watch a somewhat motley crew of 12 presenters, whose visual narrations ranged from serious commentary to playful randomness. Felix Jung (whose blog will tell you more about the night–and has better pictures) shared some entertaining autobiographical insights about repetition, while others shared physical and mental journeys through nature, popular culture, life in a rock band (the boys of All Things Lucid can play, too), Shanghai and artwork, including one somewhat mind-bending design plan to create a mass protest in New York City.

While not all presenters were as engaging as I might have liked, what was on display was originality at its best, an evening of self-expression and individual passions that reflected creativity through the eyes and words of very different human beings (Here they are taking a final bow).

Like the Kreative Evenings I hosted for many years as part of the Kreativity Network in San Francisco, there is something magical and empowering about hearing and seeing perspectives that would otherwise be unknown to you. At Pecha Kucha, many of the folks with the microphone were not skilled presenters or artists, but each offered an opportunity for us to see a different view of the world, which can’t help but boost our own creativity. More Pecha Kucha nights are coming up in Chicago very soon, so you can get a taste for yourself and also sign up online to be chosen as a future presenter.

Perhaps the creative constraint of 20 seconds and 20 images can help you decide: What passion, story, commentary, skewed view would you want to share if you had a chance?

Read more of my entries about creativity at Innovation on my Mind.

  1. […] is being done Pecha Kucha style! No one that we know of has ever done a part of a conference Pecha Kucha style. Kiel and Travis are moderating it and it will either be a fabulous success or a major […]

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