PechaKucha mixes technology with art

Farah Montasser, Wednesday 5 Oct 2011

Mixing technology with the visual arts, a series of quick photography presentations made for an artistic tour in the first PechaKucha event in Cairo, on Tuesday 4 October


PechaKucha, Japanese for “Chit Chat”, brings together young artists from around the world to “share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps – just anything really, in the PechaKucha 20x20 format,” according to Maroun Sfeir, the PechaKucha organiser in Egypt.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creative work worldwide. With a Japanese name, the initiative is also based on the Japanese business method of presenting 20 ideas for 20 seconds each, giving the presentations a specific, fast pace dynamic: a theory first developed by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dythan architecture, to develop a new form of power-point presentations that is precise and to the point. The PechaKucha team have applied this idea to visual arts and photography. The images slide past while the presenter explains them.

PechaKucha’s first night in Cairo brought together a young generation at the Tahrir Lounge of the Goethe Institute’s downtown headquarters. Unlike other international events, it had an overwhelmingly Egyptian audience. “I’m excited and delighted to learn more about this new technique and how it can be applied in arts and culture,” commented one of those present while waiting for the “technological photography exhibition to start.

A Japanese-themed auditorium with all the attendees to be seated on the floor saw one exhibitor after the other taking the podium for less than three minutes to show their PechaKucha presentation. Among the art exhibitors, Marwa Morgan presented her Meet Wish we Wish (100 Faces and a Face), demonstrating the diversity of the Egyptian culture. “Egyptians don’t have similar features or traits; the society is full of cultures and orientations,” Morgan told Ahram Online. “With my slide show behind me I will show a quick look into different types of community within Egypt,” she addressed the audience.

Morgan was followed by the cartoonist and graffiti artist Mohamed El Mosheer. Mocking Egypt’s present government and the ruling military council, El Mosheer captures ongoing political debates to remarkable praise from the audience. Moving from one slide to another, the audience could not stop laughing and applauding. The three-minute presentation gave them an adrenaline rush, with one crying out: “Long live the workers’ struggle!”

Journalist Ahmed Abdel Fatah showed a presentation on the demonstrations taking place in Tahrir. “With one lens, one location, one angle, and one view, I present the many different actions that took place in the course of two months,” Abdel Fatah told Ahram Online. Although the location does not change in all of his slides, the natural light of the sun, from dusk till dawn, and then the street lights at night, give a different flavour to each image.

Tasneim Seliem is another young talent whose presentation was nonetheless not artistic. She presented an educational debate on applying software programming in the educational system of Egypt “to help bring up a faster and more developed generation.”

The organisers hope to see more PechaKucha events taking place in Egypt, but it is still not clear yet when the next PechaKucha will take place.

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