Review: mecha kucha vs. GRTTWaK

On Thursday, January 16, 2014, in the underground of the Drake Hotel, there was a nostalgic celebration of  the 30th Anniversary of InterAccess.

It was a “culmination of concepts, tools and devices, and other terms of reference that have shaped and transformed new media art practices over the last three decades, …manifested in a jam packed evening of 3-minute talks by 30 practitioners.”

mecha kucha – an onomatopoeia in Japanese, meaning ‘messy, mixed-up, all over the place, and wacky’ or it could mean ‘really really, or super duper’.

Super duper. When was the last time you read, said, or heard that phrase? That alone should be sufficient content for you to take away from this post… but I digress…

I am not a hacker. I don’t know the difference between an Arduino Project and a transistor and a transmitter… though I know I could learn if I took the time to engage in some intro to electronics workshops. But, unlike most of its attendees, I don’t go to InterAccess for its events for the tech knowledge and tinkering. I go because it’s a space that is literally and figuratively energized. The people who are there are interacting in a way that is rare, but becoming more popular these days. They are ‘workshopping’, or ‘coworking’, or, to put it at it’s base level, they are cooperating. Varying levels of knowledge are interspersed in a mosaic of practical, hands-on learning. It’s beautiful, and the interpersonal is an artwork in and of itself. So when I found out there’d be a night that was entirely based around the celebration of that type of interaction, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

Here are a few photos from the night.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I like to celebrate nostalgia. I like art exhibits that use artifacts, podcasts and songs that integrate archival sounds, and events in which we engage in shared, but personal reminiscing. I am, of course, referring to Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids (GRTTWaK). The manner in which the InterAccess mecha kucha presenters talked about their past projects and how those activities shaped them and those around them was similar to me as going to see GRTTWaK. There is an excited vulnerability in their presentations (in both events) that make the audience feel a part of something, even if they really aren’t. I’d say it’s rare to go to an event that is geared towards a particular audience, not BE that target demographic, and still feel like you’re welcome and entertained. Plus, the sheer speed at which the event progresses is incredibly satisfying.

My point in writing this post is to 1. celebrate InterAccess and 2. to encourage you to go to events where you don’t feel you’ll fit in. So often panel talks, presentations, and exhibitors end up ‘preaching to their own choir,’ which is definitely affirming for an artist or an expert but not really likely to encourage new ideas. And, if you have a chance, be the presenter:

I did just that at the last GRTTWaK, and the experience of sharing my childhood stories of ‘sexy pigs’ with a room full of mostly strangers was enlightening and empowering, and quite hilarious. Sign up for the GRTTWaK newsletter here. It’s the best way to be one of the first to find out when the next event is to buy tickets (they always sell out) or read your own journals/stories/letters/assignments, etc (meaning you get in for free).

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