Have you heard about PechaKucha? Mind you, we are not talking about “Pikachu” nor “Machu Picchu”, as we repeatedly heard among the audience of this lively scientific outreach event we attended last Friday at Studentsamfunnet Driv.
Text: Martí Amargant Arumí
PechaKucha means “chit-chat” in Japanese, and is a refreshing approach to presentations in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. Thus, the talks are kept swift and dynamic, allowing for several speakers to take the stage in succession without tiring the audience.
The event held on Friday evening was part of the Arctic Frontiers program, an international meeting point for science, business and states to discuss the current knowledge and the future of the Arctic. As such, we were able to hear about widely interdisciplinary topics from 9 scientists: from the challenges and vicissitudes of living in the Arctic Ocean and the fate of its production to the human factor of fisheries models and copepod antioxidants, among others.
Lena Seuthe, Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Arctic and Marine Biology (UiT), kindly agreed to answer some questions for Utropia. As someone who had also given a presentation during the Arctic Frontiers main scientific events, she concurred that preparing for an outreach talk such as PechaKucha demands a higher use of visual resources and the construction of a narrative in order to convey the concepts to the general public. Indeed, the use of recurring imagery and analogies was a leitmotif in several talks that successfully impressed the crowd.
After the talks followed performances by Band Ma (Murmansk) and Elle Márjá Eira. The latter is a renowned multidisciplinary artist from northern Norway. She combined powerful audiovisual material with a unique fusion of electronic and traditional Sami music to create a hypnotic performance that poetically tackled political issues.
 The format was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in Tokyo (2003), and has since widely spread throughout the world.