Pecha Kucha Seattle / by Michelle Linden

I've been complaining for some time, that I just don't feel as invested in Seattle Architecture, as I once was in Chicago Architecture. When I was forwarded a note about the next volume of Pecha Kucha, it seemed like just the thing I was looking for...

So, this past wednesday, C & I hustled downtown, not wanting to miss one second of imagery.

For those of you new to the concept of Pecha Kucha, it was started in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. These Tokyo designers were looking to bring architects and designers together for some meaningful discussion, and to provide the opportunity to showcase personal work, which might otherwise get overlooked. Hence the name Pecha Kucha, which means 'the sound of conversation' in Japanese. The idea is that each architect or designer has 20 seconds for each of 20 slides. This keeps the audience fully engaged for a quick 6 min. and 40 second overview.

Arriving at the See Sound Lounge (where the Seattle Pecha Kucha is held), C & I immediately missed the first portion of the event. The idea is that we can all meet with friends and chat. However, since this was the first event we attended, we didn't know anyone.

Once the slides began, C & I hurried to find a viewpoint. I was anxiously awaiting the intellectual stimulation I was sure that would follow.

Unfortunately, I think I had set my expectations a bit too high.

First up was an architect couple from NBBJ. At least I think they were from NBBJ, it might have been Callison. It seemed that pretty much everyone in attendance was from NBBJ or Callison. Anyway, I digress... The images that we were presented amounted to the equivalent of your Aunt Mary's trip to Disneyland. Apparently, they had recently remodeled their house and thought that we would all be interested to see the photos taken while they were remodeling. This might have been interesting to their best friends, but as a perfect stranger I was mainly disappointed that I didn't even get to see the end result. I felt strung along. In their defense, apparently the theme of the night was supposed to be love, and their images were showing how their love for each other grew while they remodeled. Whatever.

Next up, was the couple Dan and Annie of Lead Pencil Studio. As soon as they walked up to take the mike, I was instantly embarrassed. Doesn't if figure that the only person we actually had any contact with before the presentations began, was Dan Mihalyo. And of course, we had managed to offend him during this brief contact by grabbing the bartender's attention even though he had been waiting much longer (not intentional, of course). After I got over my embarrassment, we were able to enjoy their presentation, which consisted of photographs taken from their travels (again with the theme of love). The images of stand pipes were quite clever and amusing, but the monologue that accompanied them was even more so... It was an enjoyable 6 minutes...

Following lpd, was Shahana Dattagupta... Her presentation was the first of the three that actually kept my eyes open with wonder. She presented some lovely watercolors, but what was truly impressive is that she sang (in Hindi?) along with the slides, instead of explaining them with words. I'm not sure if she wrote the song, or found one that worked... but she was captivating. More than once, I had to remind myself that there were images in addition to the singing. Honestly, I thought the watercolors were nice, but not spectacular... but I thought the presentation was fabulous. She really gave it her all and that takes guts.

After a brief break, we quickly began the next presentation. This one was provided by a local lighting designer. I wasn't that impressed with the images, but that may have had more to do with the couple behind us than the actual imagery. After the break, a new couple had decided to camp out behind us... And unfortunately for C & I, they insisted on giving a play by play throughout the entire show. It might have been fine if they had been interesting, but instead they just blocked out whatever was being said at the front. ' I love that moment, I so love that moment. '. Ok, I get it. You think you are an intellectual and want everyone else to think so too. But, trust me... the louder you say it, the less believable it is.

The next presentation really blew me away. Apparently, Sacha Maxim is the youngest presenter yet at Pecha Kucha Seattle. Even though she was just out of high school, she presented some absolutely fabulous photography. Her images were so mesmerizing, that I hardly noticed the obnoxious couple behind us. I really wish that I could find some of her images to show you... but you'll have to take my word. I've always considered myself a decent photographer, but Sacha has an undeveloped talent that I'll never match, no matter how hard I try. I'll be keeping an eye out for her work in the future.

The last presenter of the night provided us video imagery rather than still photos. Accompanying the video was a spoken poem... I honestly don't have a lot to say about this presentation... maybe I was just tired. I think that it was supposed to be a critique on global warming, but the only images I really remember were the first few that showed reflections of leave-less trees in running water. They were beautiful images that reminded me of the video of a plastic bag blowing in the wind from American Beauty.

Although, I wasn't supremely impressed, I will certainly return. Its my understanding that Pecha Kucha in Seattle is a new thing... I hope that as more designers from more firms start to become engaged and involved, that it will develop into something even more interesting. Maybe I'll have to check out another city's Pecha Kucha for comparison.