On Sunday I presented my second Pechakucha talk in Wellington.
My first one was two years ago and I pretty much gave an artist talk about the relationship of the sea to my work. And as I tell myself each time I have to talk publicly about my arts practice – “I am the only expert on me” [as selfish as this sounds] and for some reason, this reduces the anxiety and once the first slide begins, the adrenaline takes over. For those who aren’t familiar with Pechakucha, they are a night of talks where each speaker has a set of 20 images that are displayed for 20 seconds for each image. It is all automated and there is no opportunity for pausing or correcting errors. It is exciting, thrilling and scary [for the speaker] and incredibly entertaining and interesting as an audience member.
Sunday’s Pechakucha night was themed – Futurenauts. Most speakers were academic researchers – maths, sciences, arts as well as a couple of artists including Michel Tuffery and myself. Check here for the full list of participants.
This was the most consistent and impressive bunch of talks that I had seen. No-one flopped or freaked out or were shyly talking into their notes rather than to the audience. In fact, I was pretty overwhelmed by some speakers abilities to memorise their 6 minutes and 40 seconds of text word-perfectly.
This rattled me a little as although I had prepared what I was going to say, I am not one for memorising and I was the second last speaker.
I was also a little nervous as I wasn’t just presenting an artist talk, but proposing my personal opinion on where and how arts/sci works successfully. To do this, I started with some gratuitous self promotion – showing the works that are currently in exhibition and worked backwards to the first work that had real art/sci content – ie I had talked to a scientist whilst developing the work – What lies beneath. These works can all be referred to as art/sci or however you want to label it, but they are also just starting points to greater conversations whether it is about art, science or making stuff as kids. I suppose sometimes I can be accused of ‘hiding behind the science’ as I find it unnecessary to discuss the art theory conversations that I am having whilst making as I find they can get in the way of the multiple ways my work is going to be read and enjoyed.
My main point in the pk talk was that the real art and science happens during the classroom outreach/workshops that I have been developing with oceanographer Craig Stevens. The workshops bridge art and science and expose kids to a wide variety of topics without them realising.
These projects have many other learning outcomes other than art and science. Geography, maths, team work, story telling, history. The bonus is them being a part of the making a contemporary art work – and my bonus is a whole marketing team of school aged art/sci collaborators spreading the word about what they have learnt, but also about the exhibition to their own communities. This is more effective than printing leaflets and invitations to an event.
I am not going to go into too much more detail as I am still formulating my theory – but there is something very magical that happens in the classroom and it leads to another point that I failed to make on Sunday – in all the excitement of talking about collaboration – from my notes:

“I can’t deny the power of collaborating with other people from your own and other disciplines. You can extend audiences, engagement, dispel myths and work with much more honest but also excited audiences.
It is also very cost effective science communication.”

I think on the night I sounded like I was trying to desperately pitch for more collaborators and this was not the intention. I get so much out of collaborating with others and I know this is reciprocated by the two scientists that I have worked with so far. Not that I’d immediately say no to any offers, but there has to be enough commonality to make it work too. The timing has to be right too.

So that is enough from me today – it is possibly my most ranty/wordy post. I hope it makes sense and once the talk is up on youtube or the Pecha Kucha site, I’ll pop a link up on the blog so you can make up your own mind.

And in the meantime, I am considering this ceiling where the next installation will be hung.

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