The eclectic slide
Creative minds gather for a tongue-twisting, fast-paced lecture series.
Lectures make architect Scott Rappe think about being executed.
“It’s like the difference between being hung and being shot,” Rappe says, explaining how listening to normal, long-winded lectures compares to experiencing the lightning-fast lectures that typify Pecha Kucha events. “With hanging, you wonder how long it will take, but if the shot hits you right, it will kill you instantly. A good Pecha Kucha presentation is like getting shot by a skilled marksman—you get the ideas instantly,” says Rappe, who, at breakneck pace, will discuss non–historic building preservation methods at Pecha Kucha Chicago Volume 3 at Martyrs’ on Tuesday 4.
The Pecha Kucha formula is simple: A dozen creative minds (lighting designers, musicians, filmmakers, etc.) have six minutes and 40 seconds to present and discuss 20 slides of their work. But the implementation of that streamlined formula isn’t so simple: At only 20 seconds per slide, with each one timed by a computer, the presenter must not only be knowledgeable and well spoken, but also poised under the clock. Conceived in Japan in 2003 by architects Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein as a way to draw business to their fledgling experimental event space, SuperDeluxe, the informal presentation format has become viral; more than 80 cities worldwide host monthly Pecha Kucha nights.
“I thought it was just going to be architects talking about their work, and architects are usually pretty boring,” says performance artist Jared Hatch about Pecha Kucha Chicago Volume 1. “But it wasn’t boring. It was a really fun group of creative people sharing ideas,” says Hatch, who will present photos of past public performances, including First on the Moon but That’s About It, during which he traipsed around the world dressed as an American astronaut.
Chicago organizer and architect Peter Exley attributes Pecha Kucha’s success to the same thing that makes presenters nervous: the time limit. “There’s something really daunting about a long, drawn-out, deeply researched presentation,” Exley says. “Nothing focuses your message and makes it more on point than standing in front of a crowd of people drinking, and having 20 seconds to get your point across.”
The clock starts ticking at Pecha Kucha Chicago Volume 3 at Martyrs’ (3855 N Lincoln Ave, 773-404-9494) on Tuesday 4 at 8pm. Artist-musician Jon Langford and architect Peter Exley will emcee.