IN A STRANGE, curious, wonderful arrangement of things related to times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts that belong to, well, S P A C E, I’m having a moment. A moment of learning. Of wild-eyed awareness of what it is we do. In S P A C E. Not because I haven’t done things here before that I feel have merit, but because I wasn’t able to pack it into a short, concise, easy-to-relate-to, and most importantly, fast, little sentence. A ‘blurb,’ if you will. A ‘marketing blurb,’ ugh, cringe, bleh. And yet. You have to. Berelatable. If you want to be related to. Only in recent weeks, practicing by doing this, more and more, the making of space in which new and different others can find remarkable connexion, sure, in the salons and workshops and ateliers and popups and even now, in the co-created works we are publishing soon in miniature printed zines, too, it’s happening. The awareness of the what, after so many years of practicing how, and theorizing about why. ‘What’ has been important, of course, in the big way it always is. But when people asked me, ‘What is this, DK?,’ I wanted to run. To Sweden, to hide on a boat, say. Or bury myself into books. (Described both experiences in Breakfast in Cambodia). But I have to answer the question now. It’s taken a while, but I know how, now. About the ‘what is it’ thing. I know. Ask me? Here’s a form.
… And I’m excited, too, to finish the next issue already, today is the launch of S P A C E member Aske Pedersen‘s ‘Janteloven.’ Really great to work on this, I’m feeling excited to share it with our community, soon. Today we’re just gonna stare it internally, in DK’s very small, most inner circle of S P A C E: editors and friends, who’ve been talking with us, teaching us new ways of trying things, experimenting, exploring, traveling, discovering, and most importantly, writing and making, with us, these past 2+ years, around the world. But I do have a public page, too. Find it here.
ASTROLOGISTS SAY that Virgos need to be able to trust or have faith in the unknown or else suffer from unnecessary stress. After all, they don’t always have to know everything. It’s also best for Virgos if they learn to calm down and know when to stop overanalyzing situations or other people’s behaviors.
JOHANNES KEPLER was a tortured mystic, they say, but was interested in seeing if he could find ‘the harmony of the spheres.’ Platonic solids, this and that, but there’s more. I’ll say more later, but for now, just this video. More about Kepler, next.
[HT Mike Dynamo…Thanks for sharing it with me. See you and the others at this.]
LOTS TO SAY about ‘zines.’ What they are, why we make them. The upshot is: got tired of other people’s perceptions of what ‘writing’ ought to be. Or ‘art.’ Or ‘design.’ After working for a small alt-weekly in southwest Ireland (layout, design, writing, editing, selling ads, delivery, crying because files got lost, befriending MO’B in the whole two-year process because, yeah, publishing, like), and then, moving to Seattle to work at a daily (newspaper, serious, business card, says ‘editor!’, I go and sit there very day, must be for real), then yeah. I wanted to write other kinds of things. I wrote four eBooks, in a series, Kismuth. That was fine. Learning. Editing, changing. Redid things, when I added more imagery: Breakfast in Cambodia has sketches in it. There were other phases: making art shows, all that. Getting ‘serious’ and having a resume and going on residencies and whatnot. But really: why? The why is always at the heart of all the questions I ask, people, when I usually get called to do some kind of design consulting thing about ‘let’s look at this a new way, you’re good at that, can you give us some ideas, here? We so need to innovate on this, and, well, you’re doing everything, it seems like, over there, in left field.’ ‘No, no. Not left field.’ ‘Then?’ ‘From out of the blue.’ ‘Ah.’ ‘…’ ‘Well. I’ll have some of what you’re having.’ ‘Zines?’ ‘What?’ ‘Zines!’
LATER ON TODAY. The first conversation in S P A C E that’s actually in the cloud. A conference call. Connecting members. Across distance, and from spots of time that are disparate, for me. We met in 2011(?), (when was it, S.?) at a bar called James Joyce, for example. Or we met at a place that had a lot of people on laptops and not-talking so we started talking-talking because why not make that happen instead of becoming a zombie. ‘Play a game of cards with us?’ ‘Okay, yes.’ Thanks, MB, for being part of this long journey.
S P A C E | The Book of New Things. It’s not exactly a planning meeting, but you might call it that if you were a planny-planny type, which, believe me, is not my usual nature, but it is, kind of, also. Sometimes you get that side of me that’s like, ‘Right. We have the design intent. That’s 90% of the work, ladies and gentlemen. Now, let’s get crackin’ on this thing before we lose interest, scope creep sets in, someone has a personal crisis and drops out, or expectations get fuzzy and no one knows what the hell the thing is about anymore. Momentum, you could say.’
Which reminds me of this…
A building of momentum: the product of velocity and a critical mass
Why make this kind of S P A C E? Well, for one, it’s terribly difficult to host the online workshops now. It’s just too much. Email is work. People hate it. People are busy. No one has time. I’ve heard all the excuses, and heard them again. A year goes by. ‘Not this time, DK!’ Another year. ‘I’m sorry ! I’m just really busy right now with my own things.’ Then, fair enough. Let me, also, become busy with my own things. Let me deepen the connections that are already blooming. Then, let me focus on tending these small and fragile things–relationships–while introducing the ideal into the new equation… the ideal being quality and authentic and genuine connexion. Human connexion, built over time. This is not an ordinary group of people. And this is not an open invitation. You have to have known me for 2+ years now, for this set. It’s crazy, saying that. (With one extraordinary exception: Stacia Yearwood, of PaperPassages and IHopeThisMessageFindsYouWell. Of course. Because she is an immaculate poet. Need beautiful words to express an emotion? Hire this extraordinary talent.) Maybe we’ll see S tonight. S gave me a great poem. And inspired the Epicurus-moment that we’ll be building in 2019, in S P A C E, which will take to the road. (BH, are you reading? BH, you should most certainly be part of this cookie. Seriously.)
It’s like having the kind of party that I most enjoy: gathering the people whose work I admire, whose conversations have inspired me, and whose art is good, for a brief intersection of paths and closing off of other channels so as to focus, notice, and be right here now. So far, three of us have confirmed being there. That means showing up at weird hours so that an international call can work; from Australia to the western edge of N. America, invitees to this poll were going to either say ‘yes’ to the showing up to the call, not knowing what at all might happen, or say ‘no, thanks.’ But since we’re talking about people in S P A C E, and not just regular people I happened to run into yesterday or something, not that that’s bad, I quite like that, too, and ZM and I’d met the day before one of our salons, in London, that was pretty cool, and TE, too, who said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow? I’ll guest list you for my show’ which was by far one of the top 5 I’ve been to (following Sun Ra Arkestra back in Durham NC when they came through, OMG, and a couple others I can’t say out loud here because, they’re personal, and I care about them, and I don’t like oversharing) but I’m getting sidetracked–
–Back on track, the thing is this. It’s different. When you know someone. Trust is there. I’m inviting people only whom I’ve been in close conversations with throughout the last six months or more, mostly in the online spaces of S P A C E forums. ‘Slow Moment,’ for example–and expanding that out into a call in thirty minutes is the idea here. So esoteric. So abstract. So WTF. But so? I’m doing this because these are the people who are like, ‘Okay. What time?’
90% of it is showing up. Since we’ve built relationships and had quality connexion and trust and many, many dates together thinking, writing, conversing, talking, learning, sharing, showing up for each other, and discovering more about all that intrigues us, outside of the normal bounds of ‘this is what we do for work, this is what we do outside of work, this is what I studied’ blah blah who cares what do you think about multiple universes, there, good chap, or have you ever seen the northern lights? That Phish song–always comes to mind–when I think about the northern lights. But the new things, the Book of New Things, is deep influenced by the recent trip up to the northern part of Finland, up, past the Arctic Circle, where, if you hold your breath and hope, you might get a glimpse of them. And yeah, if your eyes are closed, too…
YOU GET TO BE A CERTAIN age and suddenly things don’t seem so tough. Or upsetting. Or bittersweet. (Mellowing out? Or just accepting it. The world is not there to be handled.) All of that, you discover, has been snugly tied together with this thing that is the ego. The ego, my goodness, has gotten in the way of so much good quality intimate conversation-space, of bonding, of depth of connexion, of learning, of personal development, of discovering what is there that isn’t cluttered with your own projection of what you think is there, and more. The letting go of dead things, the title of a chapter from S P A C E | ‘A Summer Love Story,’ has included this weird, curious digging out and staring, full on, at the thing that is lying there on the cold, hard tile floor, staring at you like you ought to do something about it, its worry, its anxiety, its sudden underwhelming nature, its cavity, cavernousness, caprice, narcissism, bullying. The list goes on. But it thinks you should give a shite about it, and not let it go, because you have to do the letting go of dead things if you want to be better at everything. Not just relationships, not just life, not just your own sense of quality and awareness, but yeah. The whole lot. Everything. It begins like this. It opens doors. The whole thing is becoming a new something. And so we begin, again. ✨
New photography by Dipika Kohli, in mostly black and white. All from the Atelier S P A C E series in Finland, and inspired by the amazing guests in DK’s concurrent online programme, ‘Slow Moment.’
That twelve-week sequence designed for people to connect and converge in S P A C E was about: slowing down to ‘see’, journal, note, and ‘be.’ Says DK: ‘How do you do that? Just start.’ Cover photo styled by artist Kathelijne Adriaensen. // DK 2018
PHOTOGRAPHY. DK’s creative director Dipika Kohli began her freelance career in 1998 with a gig for the then Raleigh newspaper, Spectator Magazine. The conversation with editor Stephen Wissink on that first popping in led to a yearlong photography assignment to capture restauranteurs’ best arrangements of plates of salad, desserts, light entrees, and fancy drinks. From there, Dipika continued to take photographs, but began to focus more and more on architectures, and cities. The urban landscape was always her favorite. Two grants from the Japan Foundation had led, in the 1990s, to a 500-picture series, ‘Japanese Lines’. Curating large collections of snippets of 3″x3″ prints, she exhibited these at the N. C. Japan Center. She co-founded DK in 2006 in Seattle, after working as a staff editor and sometime-photographer for the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Special thanks: Kathelijne Adriaensen for artistic inspiration and Benjamin Nwaneampeh for the fun interview we got to do with him for ‘Don’t Just Document, Make Art’, the S P A C E podcast conversation about photography..
IN THE LAST FOUR WEEKS, I have had more conversations with more people in a more compact space of time than I have in the last decade. Qualifying, I mean conversations with people I already know… There are many reasons that one might choose to reconnect, re-establish ties, and ‘show up’ for people who were once in the same places: a village, a town, a home, a gym, a favorite local of some sort that might take the shape of a bar or a cafe. Or public space: libraries like that extraordinarily beautiful one in Rovaniemi or the other amazing spot, DOKK1, in Aarhus. Or parks: my favorite of course is Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, which gave me the outline I needed to make the start at Design Kompany LLC in 2004 in that shiny, gloomy city. (I love you, Seattle. Well, sometimes. Six years was good, right? Six years. Enough.) I haven’t had the chance to really stop and focus on rekindling because I am constantly in motion. I feel the call of the road and I go. Going is my thing. Except… now, it isn’t. I’m finally starting to understand why. And I think it’s what a lot of people, who are in one place but can’t decide if they’d like to stay or not, can probably relate to, too. Continued in S P A C E
SHORT STOP IN Phnom Penh for unexpected popping-up gigs. Still curious about this place. Still asking questions. Still engaged with all the things that got me excited about Cambodia when I first arrived in Phnom Penh in March 2014. Stayed, mostly writing through the end of 2017, at which time I hatched Atelier S P A C E and tested it out in Battambang. So good was that one, that I decided, ‘Why not?,’ and took Atelier S P A C E to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Oulu. (Wait, what? No, really. Finland, yeah. I just really, really like that part of the world.)
It’s been a weird, curious and exciting moment of transition and change, for me personally, but I wanted to spring up another popup, Atelier S P A C E | Phnom Penh, before I hit the road again. Atelier S P A C E is a 2-year project, which had begun last P’chum Ben, and will continue for just another year. Before it sunsets, I want to be sure to get to places that most intrigue: the Eastern European countries, for example. And maybe circle back to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, which was where, for six years DK did its biggest and most important work: building a small network of people who are interested in ‘trusting the process’ and designing space for us to play. Recent conversations with JB in Seattle, RS in the Bay Area, and PC and OB (both of whom were guests at ‘N’ Phnom Penh, and that was in 2014, wasn’t tit?, and that was the whole start of all the new thinking… *too much thinking*. I got sorted out, though. In Finland. Quiet. Space. People. Sky.
And yeah. They are here. Still with me, till reading, still caring a little bit I think about this journey of ‘how to get people talking together in safe space that are well-facilitated.’ Do I want to go back to the States and have some kind of dialogue sessions so they can see what’s wrong with silo thinking? Or get them to really see each other, so that we don’t have all the division that we are seeing that’s, hey, always been there, but right now it’s more obvious? A lot of questions. I don’t know, are the answers to most of them. Is the US where I want to go? It depends. It depends on who is curious about having us there. I like to go where I know that things are gonna happen, not just go and see, though there are moments when that’s important, too. But when I want to just go and see, it has to be to a place that’s new. Because then: I’m doing my own process on mysel. Trusting that something will pop out from ‘the soup of not-knowing,’ but showing up for it anyway, and seeing what’s there. The spirit of travel, kind of, sure. But it’s also the way to find breakthroughs: in all sectors of work, in all sectors of personal life, in all dimensions, all 10 or whatever. I could get nerdy. I will save it for those interested in new portals, and only for those people. Selectivity and reduction of the number of channels of engaging with people has been a huge step, for me, in developing these things. These programmes, these salons, and these ideas. The depth of them is becoming more obvious to me when I clarify and check back with some of my oldest confidants. HT AM, who is probably my oldest friend now that I’ve lost touch with the rest. Again: choosing. It’s important. Drift happens. Let’s let it.
The next things
AHEAD ARE WHOLE NEW chapters, for me, and for DK, and for the members of our online communities which have been quietly been in the highest-priority spot for me in the last 12 months. Some people who have been there some of the time are aware, I think, of what it can do and be for them, and I appreciate that. Those who’ve been here longer, I think, are starting to develop more thinking around more things that have more importance to them. Knowing what’s important to you is a huge, huge thing. I think I got on a stage and talked about it for eighteen minutes in front of 500 people. No one knows thatI was pretty much ad-libbing the last 5. Ha ha. An improvisation. On a stage. A play. In real life. That’s it, though, for me. All of these sessions are the same. Just that the stages are smaller, and the invited guests are as much a part of the scripts as the ‘audience’. I dot like passive audiences; I like the engagement that comes from eye contact and back-and-forth and, sure, making it up, partly, as we go. And jazz is like that. And that’s why I like that. So many people I’ve met in the years who’ve shown me how to make jazz more jazzy. Free jazzy. I know, I know. It’s not everyone thing. But so? It’s fun. To me. Oh, yeah: and improv. Also making it up as you go, right? And that’s why I’m into that, too. Probably the whole reason I became friends with BB in a simple way, long time ago. Because: play. Let’s converse. Let’s play?
SHALL WE DO THIS? Have another go at Atelier S P A C E in PP? I think so. Let’s see, anyway. Let’s try this. Let’s begin with salon, about I N T E R N E T. Let’s go with that, see where it leads us, talk together, write and play a kind of conversational music. And then, co-create. This is my thing, where I come in. Make something out of what we learn. Put it into a zine. Share it with you. It’s not that hard, for DK, to do this. We have all the stuff you need if you are a boutique publisher. And now we’re an experiential publisher. So let’s do this? Let’s see. Here’s the details…
COMING AND GOING in Malaysia in 2018. A new thing is starting. A new small circle.
Zinemaking is part of it, but m ore than that, it’s ‘showing up.’ Big thanks to those of you who took part in our popups in KL in both the spring and just this past September, in the series Atelier S P A C E had hosted in an ad hoc style, more or less. But we’re getting less disorganized… if that’s a way to say it. I can’t say that we’re getting more organized. But it’s true we’re getting less disorganized. That I can say.
Many things to follow. (Were you in KL and didn’t get a chance to join us? It’s not that we’re going to do this indefinitely–S P A C E is moving around and changing all the time, and we’re going on the road again soon. But if there’s interest, we make a thing happen. Did you miss our previous stuff in KL? I’m putting things together in a roundup post, here. So that, you know, you can see that it happens. It’s a thing. Thanks to MM for the pics, and more to follow, there on that page, and in the active spaces of our S P A C E forums too.
MAKING ZINES. Writing them. Co-creating them. Publishing things, here and there. Quietly, in limited editions. One, three, and five. They may just look like pieces of paper, but enfolded within are a giant collection of stories. Our stories.
Not stories in books chosen by certain people about certain things they think we ought to see as ‘important’–ie ‘a curriculum.’ (And hey, by the way, who gets to decide what’s important to learn and know about? Asking that question, lately, behind the scenes here with a small circle of people we know well now, and can ask things to, and know that there is a history and we can confidently trust the connexion is strong. HT JŽ MOBSG& MR).
But yeah. Our stories. The conversations, the finds, the things that the sharing of special moments of showing up for being there together, in real life or even in S P A C E, can precipitate. SJA put it wonderfully, when she said to me that these zines aren’t just zines. Art is getting made. A different way, a different style, a superlative quality.We had spent a dozen weeks in one anothers’ company. Slowly, over time, progressively, with richness and complexity and the development of trust, she could say things and I could say things. And we could share. And I could show her the short book that I only show people in real life, in very select moments. These are the moments that, after all, are all we really have…
Showing up. True connection. An art of the moment. And zines.
CAN THE INTERNET bring us towards true connection? How do we get there? Listen to find out.
DK’s Dipika Kohli and Mae Rosukhon, a Sydney- and Bangkok-based member of our inner circle of S P A C E, are talking together about ‘the internet.’ Quality of life, health and relationships that are built on trust: these are the things. ‘It’s social isolation that really gets people down, especially in the later years of life,’ says Rosukhon, who has a background in government and health. Are the stream of constant notifications getting in our way of building real trust?
‘In this contemporary world and searching for the new, new experiences, new contacts… there’s an upside and a downside, right? [But] the trust between your friends, it’s that solid foundation that will always take you through and that’s got strong substance underneath.’ –Mae Rosukhon.
Read about Mae’s recent thoughts on life, meaning, and connection at this intriguing article she wrote, by hand, about death.