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If your Wednesday needs a little shot of inspiration, Creative Fresno’s got the perfect prescription for you! From 7-9 p.m., the local arts org will host PechaKucha Night at Bitwise Industries (700 Van Ness Ave.). This kid-friendly event promises to get the creative juices flowing as it delights and entertains the entire family.
What PechaKucha is all about
What on earth, you ask, is a PechaKucha? I must admit to being baffled upon first hearing of it, and then quite trepidatious upon learning that it came from Japan. I worried it might be something akin to the social-suicide ritual called karaoke.
Fortunately, PechaKucha is not related to this at all, and in fact, a good PechaKucha presentation can be exhilarating and downright life-affirming, as well as brief by definition. So what is it? Imagine a PowerPoint presentation, a TED Talk, and a speed dating tournament rolled into one, and you’re getting warm.
A PechaKucha presentation is basically a 20-image slide show accompanied by a narration, which itself is limited to 20 seconds per image. A key component of the PechaKucha experience is that the images advance automatically, meaning the presenter has no chance to pause on a particular image or go backwards at any point. In only 400 seconds, or exactly six minutes and 40 seconds, the presentation is finished, and an illustrated story is told. A PechaKucha Night comprises any number of these presentations, drawing on a wide variety of themes, genres, and disciplines, often unified by a central theme for the evening.
Wednesday night’s theme, in a nod to the holiday season, is “Tradition.” Presenters including Jeff Hodge, Deisy Ruiz, Tony Sanders (with Shine! Theatre), Kenny Schoelen, and my FresYes colleague Craig Scharton (who, rumor has it, will not be talking about downtown!), will offer up unique meditations on what that concept means to them.
The birth of PechaKucha
PechaKucha was created by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture, who held the first PechaKucha Night in Tokyo in 2003. For them it was an antidote to the phenomenon of overly verbose architects giving interminable PowerPoint lectures, but soon creative people in other fields started to catch on, and the PechaKucha phenomenon went viral.
Designers, artists, farmers, scientists, activists, travelers, dreamers, teachers, and children are just a few of the types of people who might share their passions in a PechaKucha presentation. Loved for their versatility, accessibility, and informality, PechaKucha Nights round up people from all walks of life and levels of expertise in a laid-back setting where they can feel comfortable networking and sharing their pet ideas with the general public.
Events are now hosted in 1,000 cities around the world, with presentations in more than 40 languages. The Klein Dytham firm still cultivates and maintains the global network of participants, as well as continuing to organize the flagship event, PechaKucha Night Tokyo. At http://www.pechakucha.org/, visitors can view presentations from around the world by city or by subject, or even download a PechaKucha of the Day app that features a curated best-of selection from among the 11,000 online presentations.
PechaKucha came to Fresno in December 2008; since then, events have been hosted in town quarterly. Wednesday night’s “Tradition” will be volume 29 of the series. January’s theme will be “Before/After.” Interested presenters are encouraged to come and watch how it’s done and then get in touch with the organizing team at PechaKucha@creativefresno.com to sign up to present.
Tickets are only available at the door; $8 general admission or $4 for Creative Fresno members. Sweet Delicates will be on hand selling savory and sweet treats.