Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pecha Kucha tonight!

See most of you tonight at the 5th Pecha Kucha fanfare! Here is the presenters' list.

1 comment:

BluEyedLu said...

Going Straight to the Source: Pecha Kucha Puts Both Artists and Art on Display

Last Thursday, the Source Gallery brought together various international and local artists to share brief words about select images of their individual works with a largely expatriate audience. The concept might seem bland were it not done following strict Pecha Kucha guidelines. Artists were allowed 20 seconds to describe, discuss or explain each image that appeared or moved about the large projector screen before the next would replace it—a task clearly much more difficult than it sounds.

In some cases, I think snippets of live human interjection shot life into otherwise lifeless images. The empty or abandoned spaces featured in the images of young photographer, Alexandra Verhaest, inspired little interest from onlookers until the artist noted that several of these featured pictures showed places where women had been raped. With this spoken explanation, a nameless patch of road beneath a (Clear Channel) billboard took on meaning where previously there was none.

In a few other cases, the Pecha Kucha format paired works of art with insightful or complementary commentary, but for many the task of keeping speaking to a minimum proved noticeably difficult. When illustrator Nial O Conner and Canadian architecture student Andrea Ling struggled to keep up with their various slide shows, both the essence and true challenge of Pecha Kucha became clear.

In some cases, chatter from the presenters surpassed their images and videos. Spacecake, dressed for the occasion in special outfits that gave them the appearance of oversized Japanese plush toys. It wouldn’t have mattered what scrolled across the screen behind them because this group provided enough performance art to distract just about anyone.

Even given the opportunity to explain and expand on his work, one artist allowed silence, save minimal sound effects, to speak on his behalf. Julien Dupont let only the pre-recorded sound a clock ticking frame a video segment that spanned his entire two-minute slot. Abstract images of a developing Shanghai popped up with every tick. This choice of sound contributed to a presentation that was fast-paced without feeling unintentionally rushed, as was the case with some of the other presenters. The combination of separate video reels with subjects ranging from architecture to local children playing spoke to a sense of pride for this city, evident in the subdued murmur of collective recognition from the audience. Eventually the screen shifted to 3-D images demonstrating theories about the development of the Lujiazui District of Shanghai and its subsequent population growth, which seemed to suggest a degree of criticism or speculation on the artist’s behalf.

Finally, I think Alice Jagtman demonstrated the most effective use of the shows speaking-with-art format. Nearly crooning to her audience, Jagtman channeled something between Eartha Kitt and the Beat Poets of San Francisco as she moved fluidly between projections of poetry and close-up images of jazz musicians performing. Her performance was indeed jazzy throughout, to both ear and eye. Few artists that showed their work that night engaged their viewers with the same charisma as Jagtman.

Regardless of the variation in both artistic and oratorical ability, the enthusiasm of both the presenters and those in attendance at Source’s Pecha Kucha night provided a lively glimpse into the quirky, social art scene of Shanghai’s creative set.