PechaKucha Night Vancouver Volume 30

PechaKucha, Japanese for chit-chat, is a worldwide series of events, started by architects in Tokyo in 2003, that feature speakers presenting a talk and 20 slides for 20 seconds each—that’s six minutes and forty seconds.

The goal of the event is the exchange of ideas, and the conciseness of the presentations encourages quickness and a concentration of many speakers and innovations into one night. Sometimes they are themed, but PechaKucha Night Vancouver Volume 30, the last of the year on 20 November, brought a range of 11 speakers from art, academia, politics and business.

Some highlights:
Hannah Epperson: “This is a song about feeling less or more than normal. Somewhere on either side. I think we can all relate to that.”
As musical act Hannah Epperson, with her violin and looping machine, plaintively—and patiently—competed with the shouted conversations of the crowd, I was astounded by the sheer volume of the talking which only ceased when the girl spoke to briefly introduce her next songs. She is obviously vastly talented, producing singlehanded the sounds of a full string ensemble plus voice, and I was a little offended that the audience was missing it; but then I remembered that this was a design crowd—they were not there to hear music. But it still seemed kind of strange and rude.

Paul Dincer: “. . . now we are more aware than ever that our eating habits are a political declaration and ethical stance against a global system. We are in a different era, and we are witnessing a monumental shift in production . . . this new era requires more understanding of food . . . not just based on our eyes and our tastebuds, based on our awareness that we are not the centre of the universe and we are part of something way bigger than us.”
My initial get-a-load-of-this-guy reaction to Koko Monk chocolates founder Paul Dincer’s talk of post-modern and avant-garde chocolates was quelled once he really got going and started waxing academic about food in relation to literature. This man is a scholar, a philosopher, a chocolate-prophet, and he proved his theory when he described the watermelon and sea salt chocolate he created in reference to Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, and the entire audience was united in a sigh of “ahhh…”.

David Gunawan: “There is something very real about the kitchen, there is madness, and devoid of any social or mental segregation.”
Of Wildebeest fame and having recently opened a new restaurant—Farmer’s Apprentice—in the westside, David Gunawan was hilariously casual in his speaking style, like talking to an awkward kid in his kitchen after he’s had a couple of beers. But he is passionate and active in his profession; he’s lived the true roaming chef lifestyle and has grand ideas about sort of de-evolving food as it is presented on restaurant tables and moving away from the traditional pretentiousness of the upscale food industry: “we don’t want you to like everything about us . . . the obligation of high end food is kind of mediocre to me.”

Alicia Medina Laddaga: I was fully impressed by this young woman; she is an asset to any city that she happens to be living in and Vancouver should kiss the ground that she walks on. Since arriving from her native Mexico in 2008, she has completed a masters degree in advanced studies in architecture, was a steering committee member of Vancouver Design Nerds, and has started LoHA, a non-profit focused on “exploring and building housing alternatives for creative and emerging professionals.” She is excited about the future of our city and she is not alone. She received a rousing round applause when she asked, in closing: rather than the Greenest City in 2040, “what if Vancouver was the Creativest City in the world?”

Wes Regan: “We need to change the paradigm that we live in, push for new solutions, and we need to test the limits of what we’re capable of if we are to survive or flourish. . . . there is an army of people who want something better for Vancouver.”
Another reminder that there is in fact still good in the world. Regan is concerned about the politics of food, and through his position as Executive Director of Hastings Crossing BIA, which he started, he is working to embed food security policy into the bylaws and constitution of the city.

Jonathan Tippett: “We have been dreaming about a man-amplifying, or a body-amplifying mech suit for millennia, probably even before they had robots—but the thing is, nobody thought to race them before.”
Jonathan Tippett is a self-described mad scientist, and as he talks, growing ever more animatedly passionate about his dream of building a “five-meter tall, wearable walking machine that you strap yourself into, ideally wearing a red jumpsuit,” it starts to dawn on you that, holy shit, this man is actually crazy. But it is crazy genius, and when he describes the realization of his dream in two years time as a reality, you believe him. You want to believe him, because he represents wild, unbridled driven creativity just for the sake of doing something huge and real. His philosophy is using machines to re-connect humans with the physicality of their bodies, in an age when physical effort is becoming less and less necessary. His envisioned machines are completely manually controlled: “this is a sports machine, and the pilot is the athlete.”

The skeptic in me tried to see PechaKucha Night as one more way for a bunch of people to promote their own interests under the guise of “sharing ideas.” But, as I listened to these passionate people who are working hard in their respective fields, who understand that big changes start locally, I started to feel optimistic. The more the city can champion people like the above, the better things are going to get, and I went home that night feeling excited about what is possible, not impossible, in the world.

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tempt.

There are almost 300 organic apple varieties grown on Salt Spring Island. In the late 1800s, Salt Spring was the first apple producing area in British Columbia, and fruit trees outnumbered residents ten to one.

In the 1920s, the Island’s fruit production was overtaken by the Okanagan’s cheap irrigation and hotter summers, and it has continued to decline since then.

But, there has been a resurgence in appreciation for the old varieties, which were grown by settlers from English seeds, and splices nestled safely inside potatoes brought from Ireland.

home.

Behind my friends’ place, on St Mary Lake, Salt Spring Island. The thing I love the most about Salt Spring is its unpretentiousness; it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s not falling over itself to be lovely or picturesque. It just is.

Interview with Vancouver graphic designer Lindsey Hampton.

l8Some people are like conductors of creative vision; they take in their surroundings, convert it to their own aesthetic, and broadcast it into several different mediums. And the lucky ones, such as Vancouver graphic designer Lindsey Hampton, accomplish a style which strikes a chord and is appreciated by an ever-more-receptive audience.

Gravitating towards the music scene, Hampton was the art director of Dischorder Magazine for two years, and her distinctive gig posters have graced the power poles of the city for almost a decade. Also, she has released an ethereal solo album under the moniker Waters, and is part of the “garage” band Failing.

While being paid to creatively design the music industry would be enough for most, Hampton has continued to explore disciplines and has branched into the realm of ceramics, a new venture for her which is already garnering online and local attention.

“It came at a time when I was quite busy with design, I just had this urge to make things,” she says. “I really, really wanted to make three dimensional objects. With design, everything’s flat, even if you design it and later it’s three dimensional, you’re still visualizing it on a flat field or surface. I always really liked ceramics and I like working with my hands so I just decided it was something I wanted to try out, and I loved it.”

Hampton’s ceramics have a distinctive style; clean and modern, striking subtle balance between muted off-whites and soft colours. It is notably reflective of her other design work, indicating an adherence to style which she says is subconscious.

“I think I am drawn to certain colour palettes and certain shapes, and I didn’t purposely go into ceramics with the idea that it would look like my design work, but I think anybody who does any form of art, if they do a different form it’ll probably look like they did it, which I think is really important for any artist to be able to be cohesive with any kind of work that they do. So the fact that people have recognized that [her ceramics] looks like [her design work], I’m super happy that that happened. I think it’s just that I like things to look the way I like. It’s pretty easy, when you’re used to designing, you think in shapes and colour and form, and positive and negative space, and all the design principles and elements. Learning those, you can basically put those into anything you do in life, even if it’s decorating a house, or landscaping a garden. It’s all the same, it’s the same principles throughout everything.”

Hampton made her first cd cover in 2004, then went to the Art Institute for graphic design at age 23. “I think I sort of understood a little bit more that, especially with graphic design and art based stuff, that it’s not about a degree.”

Her first job was for Vancouver production company Sealed With a Kiss, for whom she did overflow poster design work, and now her posters are seen constantly and all over the city. “I just sort of fell in love with it,” she says. “It’s one of those things where everyone sees everything you do because they’re plastered around the city. People start recognizing your work because they see it, and things snowball from there.”

While an admitted web-o-phobe, Hampton admits that her already established reputation and online following has been a catalyst for the attention her ceramics have received. Business has been coming unsolicited through her website and Instagram, including an order for the Craft and Design Museum in San Francisco and One of a Few, a shop in Gastown which was her first wholesale order.

“That’s an interesting world, the internet world, for an artist. Sometimes I feel weird about it, and other times I realize I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for this. I had to get good at talking about myself, it’s not in my nature. The day I signed up for Twitter, I was like, (sighs), I have to be this person now, who’s like ‘I’m doing this today, check out this thing I just did’. You have to do that. Unless you have someone to do it for you.”

Her client base so far is in the U.S. and potentially Australia. “I guess it depends on what you want to do with your career, but if you’re trying to make a living in a small, expensive, not super art-based city, then you have to reach elsewhere, and the internet is how you do that.”

-Art by Lindsey Hampton

Also seen at Trim Projects.