Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pecha Kucha Hits Indy

I sit patiently in my old Scandinavian chair awaiting the signs of cultural growth in our city... the first Starbucks, the small arthouse theatre getting killed by the corporate version of the same, commodified art districting and interpretive art wayfinding... and yet another milestone is upon us -- Pecha Kucha Hits Indy:

Call for Submissions
Organized by the Harrison Center for the Arts, Kristian Andersen + Associates, and Asthmatic Kitty, the first volume of Pecha Kucha Indianapolis is looking for 14 thought-provoking, concise presentations formatted in "pecha kucha" style (20 slides at 20 seconds each) for demonstration on February 1. Presentations should emphasize ideas and theories from architecture, design, urban planning, the arts, music, education, or academia.

To submit an entry, please email a 250 word or less abstract of your presentation to by January 20.

Selected presenters will be notified by January 25, and will demonstrate their presentations in Gallery No. 2 at the Harrison Center for the Arts on Friday, February 1 from 7:30pm - 9:30pm. It will be an invitation only event with 60 tickets ($20) available.

What is Pecha Kucha?
Pecha Kucha (Japanese for "chit-chat") is a forum for designers, architects, artists, musicians, thought leaders (and more!) to share their ideas and work in a concise, visual manner.

Originally crafted by architecture firm KDa in Toyko as an opportunity for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public, Pecha Kucha has spread virally to cities across the world. It is essentially an evening of slideshows and socializing. The attraction of Pecha Kucha (besides the beer and wine) is its format: each presenter is alloted just 20 slides, shown for only 20 seconds each. This fast paced format ensures that each presentation is distilled to it's essence (and prevents long-winded lectures!).

Pecha Kucha has been a great success in many other cities across the world, and we believe it represents an exciting opportunity to spread ideas and connect people in ways that will truly benefit the city of Indianapolis.

More About Pecha Kucha
The Official Pecha Kucha Site
A Sample Presentation
Photos From Past Events
Ping Mag's Top 5 Tips for PK Presenters
Pecha Kucha Night and Beer: A Sober Guide to Better Presentations
Pecha Kucha Helps Make Power Point Presentable
Call For Submissions

12 Responses to “Pecha Kucha Hits Indy”

Scott said...
January 17, 2008 at 5:34 AM

Thanks for posting about this Craig, I have been meaning to. I have read up as much as I can on the history and practice of these events and find them an interesting concept that could seed great ideas. BUT... I have several misgivings about the first event, which I was actually interested in submitting to then decided I could not.

1- Timing. Why on a First Friday? I know it is not geared towards artists directly but artists are a part of that crowd that could really add something to the presentations and or dialogue. First Fridays are often used by artists to make their social rounds, exhibit their work, and have open studio visits making it difficult to fit in another event. And I do believe that a large part of the audience of these events may be the same audience that First Friday draws in. Why compete?

2- Invitation Only? While this may be good for the first event while it takes shape, why limit the audience? Who decides each month who can show up? Do the presenters get a say? I thought the spirit of the event was to bring together a diverse group of people with ideas to share with each other. It would seem the more the merrier.

3- $20? That seems quite expensive for an event that has no local following and no one know who will be speaking. Why so expensive? Why pay nearly twice as much as it costs to go the movies, after all both run about the same length of time? Aside from the fact that I most likely have to watch over a gallery that night, I doubt I would have $20 to spare for an untested event. Why not keep the event free and make money off of drinks or snacks? From what I have found online, there are no standard policies with these events about pay, some charge, some do not.

Don't get me wrong, I am still interested in the concept of this event in spite of my concerns. Perhaps someone here who has been to one of these events in other cities can shed some light on this for me or perhaps the organizers will be willing to share their thoughts on some of my questions. Let's not wait to First Friday, let the dialogue begin now.

Craig said...
January 17, 2008 at 12:17 PM

Scott - I agree with all of your concerns, and I have shared them in the past weeks with the individuals who are organizing the event. As for the timing, I think you're right - this feels like a good thursday night event to me. The invitation-only aspect and the cost comes directly from KDa in Tokyo, who are working with the local organizers to make this an 'official' Pecha Kucha event.

Personally, I am immediately put off by anything shown to the public, but exclusive by invitation. And I almost didn't blog this for that reason - but it is a public call for submissions. The rationale for invitations is to have an audience that attends for the duration of the presentations and not have people wandering in an out (which will be a problem at first friday at the Harrison Center). Anyone interested in attending should email and I think it is very likely they will be able to get a ticket.

The cost is a direct expense for the facility and bartender, and I think some or all drinks are included in the cost. I agree, twenty bucks will cause some people to not attend. I was told that in some cities the cost to attend official PK nights is over $100, which is exclusive and ridiculous.

The people organizing this event are aware of these shortcomings, but I think they decided to risk some criticism in order to become the official PK Indy - which means playing by the rules of the people who founded the event.

Anonymous said...
January 18, 2008 at 2:57 PM

First Friday is a good idea because many people (and non-artists who appreciate art) don't live in the immediate area and would like to take in this event and several others (gallery openings, etc.) on one night without draining their gas tank to do so in two trips.

We all don't live downtown, folks.

Scott said...
January 18, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Believe me, I understand gas prices, as I too do not live downtown. I live roughly 25-30 minutes from downtown which puts a major drain on my finances especially since my studio is downtown, but given that First Friday events typically run from 6pm-9pm and The Pecha Kucha event runs from 7pm-9pm, that leaves you shy of an hour for seeing First Friday events once travel and parking are put into the equation. And you can't see much in that amount of time.

I kind of equate this scenario to every trip I plan to Chicago. Since it costs so much to drive up there and I am usually going for just the day, I plan on doing as much in that day as I can, meet some friends, check out some art, have some dinner and catch a movie at the Music Box Theater. Problem is, I rarely get to acomplish everything I hoped or even planned on getting done. Sometimes you just need to make multiple trips.

I would rather have something to do on a night that I do not already have a regular event planned. But again, that is just me.

Anonymous said...
January 20, 2008 at 9:55 PM

maybe somebody could pick this up and continue it for considerably less cost and do it on another Friday other than First Friday...

n. said...
January 21, 2008 at 1:32 PM

$20 bucks - *gripe*
Invitation only - *gripe*
First Friday Conflict - *gripe*
Not knowing the presenters prior to attending - *gripe*
No one getting off their butts to organize Pecha Kucha for Indy - *biggest grip*
But someone did do it! Yeah!
Let's not look this gifted horse in the mouth. Trust me, it has every potential to evolve into a great success. Give it time... then gripe.

Scott said...
January 22, 2008 at 1:45 AM

"No one getting off their butts to organize Pecha Kucha for Indy - *biggest grip*"

You miss read perhaps my statements, at no point do we question people organizing this event, and I am not one to look into the biting end of a horse. I actually like the concept of the event and I think if done well it has great potential of being a wonderful event. My "gripes" as you call them are concerns only. My concern is that it could handicap the event and possibly prevent it from being even more succesful.

I have always been an advocate for people being more proactive in our arts community. More people should get off their butts and do something, make a difference. If you can't find the scene you want, make it.

John said...
January 28, 2008 at 9:37 PM

Hello everyone. I'm John Beeler, one of the folks behind the first PK-Indy.

Longtime reader, time poster.

Thanks for posting this Craig, and thanks for the discussion.

I could write a point-by-point "rebuttal" but suffice it to say that we thought over each of these points very thoroughly, and came to these decisions strategically.

One of the "agreements" in employing the PK name is that we hold 4 events a year. I imagine that of these four, they will span the spectrum from this upper-end one, to a almost-free-for-all event with a more collegiate atmosphere that takes place during the week. I can say that the $20 does not go into anyone's pockets - any proceeds (if at all!) will go to future events. Yes, there is an open beer/wine bar.

I should also say that at its core, PK is not an art movement. That speaks to the conflict with other artistic activities on First Friday. PK certainly incorporates art, both as a medium and in content, but it is essentially a design and architecture idea. We are holding it at the HCA for several reasons, but one is that we do want to reflect the artistic character of Indianapolis and embrace and integrate the art community. You'll see by the presenter list below that art is definitely a huge component of an Indianapolis Pecha Kucha. We're very proud of that.

Craig is right - anyone that wants a ticket can email (they are not all gone, but getting there).

Thanks for the post and the discussion here.

Here are the presenters:
William A Browne Jr., AIA - Architecture:Art
Warhol BUCK$ - cloth napkins and cocoa
Tyler Henderson - living as a "locavore" in Indianapolis
Kyle Jackson - The Ball Project
Justin Keller - Wabi Sabi
Matt Kessler - DARPA: The Aesthetics of Weaponry
Craig McCormick - Strip malls, and that which defines them
William "Wil" Márquez - The lifeless utopia of the city
Aaran M. Renn - 15 Quick, Easy, and Cheap Ways to Make a Big Urban Design Impact in Indianapolis
Stephanie Seawell - Kessler Boulevard: what it was supposed to be, and what it is
Jim Walker - The Big Donut.
Donna Sink - Architecture is Both

n. said...
January 30, 2008 at 10:14 AM

I think you miss-read those *gripes*
Those are my feelings. My gripes. Sure, there are some aspects to PK-Indy's premier that I want to belly-ache about but what I was trying to say was that no matter the cost, itinerary, location or date, at least there IS a PK-Indy. I'll take the first four *gripes* if it means I don't have the 5th as an option.

PS- John, thanks for the list of presenters!

Scott said...
January 30, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Sorry for the misread n.

You are more than welcome to your own gripes, we all have them...

I too am glad to see this event in town and hope it goes over well.

And thanks as well John for posting the presenters, I had just received that info and was going to do so as well. You beat me to it. I hope one of you will be willing to post your thoughts about how the event worked out after Friday. I can not attend unless for a brief peek as I have other arts obligations. Good Luck.

James said...
February 6, 2008 at 1:12 AM

Hi - new reader, long-time PKN fan - and long ago Indy resident.

First of all, congrats on Pecha Kucha Night Indy!

I'd like to add to John's comment. Having attended several events in Tokyo and New York - price does vary according to venue and associated costs - Tokyo has a dedicated venue and runs approximately $10 and includes one drink, consistently. New York varies in venue and price from $5-7, no free drinks unless sponsored. PKN is the result of the effort of the organizers and a host of volunteers - admission fees pay for the venue and equipment rental (sound systems, projectors, screens, etc.) In a New York PKN fire marshals had to be hired to get a temporary certificate of occupancy to legally allow an event of its size to occur, unfortunately the $2 price increase per ticket (for a whopping $7 total) and the number of attendees did not allow the organizers to break even. Any surplus from events is saved for just such contingencies.

Timing is tricky. Trial and error will surely find a convenient time.

Travel - There are people who have traveled from the farther reaches of the NYC-Jersey metroplex to attend. In Japan, there are people who consistently travel from Nagano to Tokyo to attend. Granted the public transit is is better in both than Indy's it still takes time and money - Tokyo is probably as expensive as driving in Indy.

The organizers go through tremendous efforts to assemble quality presenters and venues and to promote the events. It's tough to start something without inviting people. Somebody has to screen the presentations so you don't end up with 14 presentations on the design aesthetics of the Smurfs' urban planning and effects on gender, for example. It's important to balance a range of topics, professionalism, interests, and, yes, entertainment. How many people watched Vanya on 42nd Street just because it was released on DVD with bonus material? (for the sake of natural resources I hope it actually wasn't). After an event you should want there to be another one - you should want to present - and you should work just as hard on your proposal/presentation as the organizers have on creating the event.

It's a tough effort - meet them half way. People are trying to make Indy (and other PKN cities) a more connected and interesting place to live and learn and create.

Congrats again!

Scott said...
February 6, 2008 at 1:26 AM

Thanks for the words James. I certainly never expected to hear a reference to Vanya on 42nd Street. I liked that one. I heard some good words from a number of people who enjoyed the PK night and from what I hear, our own Craig may have had the best presentation of the night. I hear the turn out was great and everyone had fun. I hope to be able to present one day but first I will have to conquer my public speaking phobia. (slowly getting a bit more comfortable with that)

I hope I that one of our readers who may have been there that night will tell us their perspective and maybe we can get Craig to talk about his experience as a presenter and a viewer of the other presentations.

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