THE WRITING AND THE COLLAGING are going well. Lately, especially. Sometimes it takes getting into a stride. Sometimes, though, it takes meeting the right person. Or set of persons, as was the case for me. Midsummer party, for example. Yesterday. Still processing. More to be shared, probably in private inner circles of S P A C E, because it’s that kind of conversation.
NARRATIONS. Three weeks and counting and there are some fascinating threads weaving a narrative that will become the zine collection, S P A C E || Kärsämäki. It’s been fun practicing the ol’ photography medium, probably one of my earliest and most comfortable ones (though I took a 15-year break because I felt like digital was getting in the way of really taking the time you need to get to know your subject before you document it. Then instagram came. Then I just quit photographing, altogether.)
But I’m learning in my new conversations that others also feel that with the advent of ‘fast’ photography, the medium of photography got cheapened. (In fact, RA told me that she thinks intimacy itself got cheapened from the rise of all these insta-sharing moments that come too fast, and all at once, and from all kinds of directions. I couldn’t agree more.) Discardable relationships, breakups over text. That kind of thing. Weird.
PHOTOZINE. So to get back to the slowing and stilling, and being offline, I thought I’d take photography as the medium again, for the ‘Slow Moment’ zine. How do you get away from the internet? How do you find the things that move you, when you’re not spoon-fed streams of illusions? When you get so used to it, it becomes empty-feeling, without it, or at least, that’s what people seem to be saying. They feel they’re missing out, right? FOMO, and stuff? Hm.
To that point, it’ll focus on the silent spaces and quiet moments. And I know already that this one, A4 in size, will be the crown jewel of the upcoming series. Because I’m writing it now and I know what it’s going to be, I’ve set this up so it’s on sale now as a limited edition of just 20. Kind of a way to offset the costs of living for three months in um, Scandinavia. Anyway, so what about that. What I care about is the content. It’s coming along really well–I’m so into it.
Macro and micro perspetives
I’M REALLY EXCITED about the way these zoom lenses are working. I’m happy with the shape that the new books are taking. I’m testing things. I’m meeting people who are making me think about new ways of approaching this process. Is that what the benefit is of an artist residency? I think it might be this, in fact, apart from everything obvious: space, time, being away from the familiar, new surrounds, new input, and again, space and time away from the familiar. Yes, yes. It’s my second time doing a residency and it’s way different from the first. The first was with Preetlarhi Magazine in Preetnagar, Punjab. That was 2014. During which time I wrote part of Kanishka.
So much different, this time, way less hard to write because of humor instead of… hard things… related to human divisiveness. Kanishka took me thirty years to figure out how to approach. This new stuff is flowing quickly, because, I like a good laugh. And seeing the humor in the everyday melancholy, that is what someone told me that Finland is, generally, a bit ‘melancholy’, as if that’s a national trait, and yeah, seeing the absurdity in the world is a way to cope with its tragedy. Isn’ that what Oscar Wilde did? ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ Talk about macro perspectives. And Mark Twain made human issues that were really dark, somehow incredibly funny. I am drawing inspiration from some of his short stories, in particular, ‘Is He Living or Is He Dead?’ Just google it.
CHANGE IS THE ONLY. Writing. Shifts. But largely, because… we change. My first books were really different from the stuff I’m making now. The art I make is less comic stuff and more creative nonfiction, more or less. Today I’m different from the way I was before. You are, too. If we don’t look at the way we’ve changed, we won’t notice whom we are becoming. Isn’t reflection important? I think so. But maybe that’s just me. But change. That happens, doesn’t it? We change. We grow. Well, some of us do. Some of us who make it our goal to grow and change. ‘Change or die’ is one of the mantras of the innovation-makers and entrepreneurs. Stay relevant. Stay fresh. But don’t pander to the mass–don’t give in to make more of the status quo. So I’m going to get poet-y here, for a minute, now, and a little ‘out there.’ Ready? Okay. These are the kinds of thoughts swirling about as the river bubbles and the brooks move in their own meanders, their own slight forces of nature sharing with them new vectors to point them in the directions of turbulence of flow… it’s all relative isn’t it? And here, I want to talk about The Theory of General Relativity: time and distance. Or how the force of attraction between any two points in the universe is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Or how pretty a thing can be when it’s arranged artfully, like flowers in Japanese homes, at the genkan, greeting you when you step up. Doozo, agattekudasai. And now, I’m going to get natsukashii. About the nineties.
Early photography and a light touch
1990s KYOTO, JAPAN WAS WHERE I GOT into taking pictures, especially zooming-in ones like these, of late. The Japan Foundation gave me two grants to do some photography studies of the temples and the modern architectures of Kyoto and Tokyo, which took a while, but got me a show at the North Carolina Japan Center that a lot of people told me they really liked. Such things keep me making.
It was on a trip there that lasted 9 months that I got a macro lens as a gift, what a splendid addition to the 45mm lens that I had been favoriting up until then. Portraits, mostly, was what I had been doing prior to the long journey to Japan. Local business people the local paper was highlighting, could I run down and get a pic, those kinds of assignments.
Plus, food. Lots and lots of food. Arranging still lifes for food shots for the then-Spectator Magazine. This would be Raleigh, NC. This would be when people still read newspapers or reviews of CDs, and when CDs were still a thing. And when cover art mattered. And yet, and yet. Before I dovetail into a love letter to the nineties, I should remember it wasn’t all that awesome. Becoming nostalgic about a time that was, let’s be honest, not so progressive, really, is also a little silly. The nineties happened. Now they’re gone.
Did we make better music then?
I’m not sure.
I’m happy when I randomly run into people and start to hear or see what they’re making, in this modern, new, fresh era, in which experiment and niche are the thing that becomes the main and you don’t have to be ‘popular’ to find your crowd. (But that’s another subject.)
‘The Woman in the Shadows,’ or ‘La Femme dans L’ombre,’ is a character in my new upcoming story. She’ll be based on someone whom I’ve met here in Finland in recent weeks. Putting it together. In a short story. In a segue from the last ones, Briefly in Shefflied, and Kaunter Tiket, this new zine will be lighter and maybe even, if I can get the timing and punchlines right, maybe even… funny. I remember humor. I miss it. When the art critic Lori Waxman reviewed my zines, she said I had ‘a witty and abbreviated’ style. The review is linked from my personal website with its philosophical rambles about relational aesthetics. The site, I hope, an example. More ‘show, don’t tell’ stuff.
Let’s see where things go. Making it up as I go. Step by step. Et cetera. Sharing behind-the-scenes in our eZine, S P A C E.
TO THOSE OF YOU who are reading this blog, thank you. For the newcomers, a big welcome. For those who are returning, welcome back. I’m not sure how it happened that I skipped 2014-2018, but I sort of did. Links broke. SEO went down, probably. But so? I had to get away from this constant ‘content’ making thing and figure out my thing. (Zines. Combining all my toolkits of photography, graphic design, spacemaking, creative nonfiction, and the art of conversation, plus the occasional salons, in that thing that is Atelier S P A C E.)
Plus, maybe I got caught up in the craze of feeling like a lot of people were listening because they were ‘following’ you on social. Maybe I just lost the story, for a while. But it’s back. Creating hyperlocal creative nonfiction narratives, ideally with the people I am meeting and writing with and to. It’s different.
It’s not like the days of news daily work, where you just wrote what you were supposed to write for the pages you edited, and those things happened because of press releases, because of people you thought were curious and maybe wrote to and asked for an interview, and because of, well, just inertia. You go with what’s there, what’s curious and beyond is for the time when you have when things are quieter. Which is never. Let’s face it, most jobs and most of life is like this. Do what needs to be done now, for now. Other stuff is ‘nice to have,’ or so they say, even if these ‘nice to haves’ are now proven to be good for mental health and emotional well-being, according to R., whom I must write about here at some point, and whom I enjoyed a three-hour tea and conversation with last Thursday. These conversations can really go on for a stretch. But in that time, we reach something. A kind of weird zenith. And at that point, you feel it. The art of the moment. That magic moment.
MAGIC MOMENT. I was always looking for this, out in the big world… externally, when I was traveling in the past. But it was always right here: the potential for it, I mean. The art, to me, is bringing that out. Showing us the magic moment, when we’re there, together. Ready for it. Or even if we’re not, remembering it’s there. Always ready to be shown, seen, experienced. And shared.
So much is percolating.
For now, I’m just sharing a couple of pics from the studio, where I’m letting things emerge, as and how they will. Systems thinking, chaos theory. Emergence. Order. Next.
Happy midsummer! –DK
What do you want to hear more about? Leave a comment and tell me. I’m always open to hearing what you think, if you’re reading and curious and want to hear more.