Do you ever feel like it’s getting more and more difficult to find ways to meaningfully connect with others in stimulating conversation?
Let me repeat that.
Do you ever feel like it’s getting harder to meaningfully connect? I do mean meaningfully, not trivially
Was this easier in the past? (Or is that just an idea in my head? Like so many things, it’s easy to start to become nostalgic about ‘the way things were, before.’ But what are the bright spots of now?)
What are the modern, day-to-day items that give our life meaning, items we didn’t have before, but are important to us now? Let’s converse. Let’s meet and discover new ways of thinking, new perspectives, and new people. And old ones, too. Let’s talk about ‘Then & Now.’
In this series, you’ll have a chance to join a conversation salon that is designed to make it easy to talk deeply and connect with strangers in a very short space of time.
Hosted by Design Kompany, ‘Then & Now’ invites you to consider questions about where we are at this moment in time, where we’ve come from, and what we can imagine for our futures. Come with an open mind to hear expert speakers, make new friends, experience a ‘conversation salon’, play with improvisational theatre, and enjoy delicious food and drinks.
DK’s hosted salons since 2006 in Seattle, London, Malmö, and Copenhagen.
This conversation salon is part of the programme Atelier S P A C E.
A MATHEMATICS PROFESSOR in Helsinki and DK got into a conversation about four dimensional space. That’s the basis of the short zine, S P A C E || Helsinki. In which myriad moments of surprise and discovery pop up out of the sheer aether, the offline moment of running into what DK calls ‘you don’t even know yet what’s going to happen, but then, it does’ moments. (A dry sequence of conversations at an event for tech startups left DK wondering what the point of trying to write about serendipitous encounters would be if you only met greedy, self-important venture capitalists running around in jets pretending to be more important than the lowly citizen, etc.) So DK left. And wandered the city. Drifting. Into whatever spaces and places would become curious… DK wandered into the more geometric, wider field of the city centre. There, we found one of the city of Helsinki’s smallish, unpretentious cafes, and, upon entering, chanced upon an unusual and sort of unbelievable, lengthy conversation about math, geometry, four dimensions, mapping, and, generally, things S P A C E.
‘But is time reversible?’
‘I know nothing about physics.’
The mathematician’s conversation about things he did know about, however, are at the heart of this zine.
With a special focus on photography, the Helsinki issue of S P A C E will feature images of some of the unique facades that one finds wandering through the town, perhaps off the more conventional paths, and off, towards the alleys.
MAKE A ZINE, with just 8 others. In this popup atelier that gathers people who want to work together to make a short publication. Writers, designers, artists, illustrators, and other creatives are welcome to apply. Be a part of the international conversation.
Atelier S P A C E is creating zines in a limited edition in each of the cities where DK go.
A LOT of learning on our last trip to Malaysia! Three months of getting to know the place and people, a little, in Penang, Cameron, Melaka, KL, and Ipoh, pretty neat. We discovered a lot of smart, creative women and young people, especially, who are ready, we think, for a challenge, artistically, philosophically, and intellectually. So we are back to host some new events in S P A C E to invite a few of these good people to mix it up a bit, and connect with others also interested in the same.
In KL at the end of May, DK will gather new and different others in remarkable S P A C E. Designing for connexion. That’s our goal. Perhaps this sounds like a big project, but to us, it just means hanging out and talking and letting things flow. At ateliers like the one ahead, we can also cocreate… let’s make something together, in this instance, an 8-page zine. Learn more about Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur.
REPORTING TODAY from a secret location in Malaysia. For a bit of space, to reflect and connect, with some whose paths I’ve crossed very recently, and with those who are still engaged with DK through our mailings in [S P A C E 2018].
‘New starts’, part LXII
I love starting over. I really do. It’s like when you open a new sketchbook and you’re just like, ‘Wow. Here we go. Where, though? Let’s go find out.’ I told some people in recent days I was in art school for like 10 minutes. It was way too early to be there, or really, it was way too wrong, for me, even then, even then I had a gut feeling about it… that style of making is just like production-oriented other schooling (commercial arts), and while I’ve no problem whatsoever with artmaking for a client (heck, that’s how I’ve lived these last 10+ years), I don’t think we should mess around with the ‘art of art.’ I will love to talk more about that in S P A C E when I get to interview someone whom I am sure you will adore meeting. I certainly have.
Anyway! This kind of quick-and-dirty art-for-the-sake-of-fame is just… not what I feel like real art is about. Real art is about experience, to me. About life, and about connexion-making. Not just you know, the usual kinds (love, work, blah blah), but about unusual and remarkable connexion. People whose paths might not have crossed, intersecting in fascinating new ways.
You know what most people say when I talk about this? ‘But, why, DK? Whatever is the point?’ These are the people who will never believe that I haven’t held a day job since 2005. The beginning half of the conversation with this set of people tires me. I stopped. I only talk now in S P A C E and with people I think would get into S P A C E aesthetically. It’s really weird. But anyway. Really, I should answer.
Why? Because quality. A pursuit of beauty that means we are noticing each other, for real. Not just superficially, gosh. Really? Come on, like how many of your ‘friends’ are going to show up for you when you ask them to come around to your show, or meet for a beer because someone just died, or something? Come on, be real about it. Ask yourself. Is all that stuff where you want to be spending your time? Not me.
Someone asked me for my facebook yesterday. I said I don’t have one. I don’t think he believed me. Then he asked for my number. I don’t have one of those, either.
Just being honest about it… about how I really… don’t collect people. I share, and interconnect, I hope, when it’s working that’s what happens, when we are all showing up for that kind of thing. It’s not arbitrary and it’s certainly not for everyone. The reason you have to get tickets for stuff we are hosting is because I want to filter out the people who are just bored and looking for something to fill their time. I want people to show up who want to show up for this kind of jam. New. New and different. New and different others, seeking meaning in a distracted world. Shall I add, an indifferent world? Because certainly this work we are up to at S P A C E and DK in general is morphing away, and very quickly, from simply being bored with boring (which is how it started, as a design studio), and catapulting headlong towards being intentional about noticing people who are not like you. Does this make it political? Possibly. I don’t know how this happens; wherever I go, I get involved somehow in things related to ideologies that move towards human connexion that builds, together, something interesting. Self-governance or maybe just art.
I’m not sure. Is it the same? Does one necessarily fertilize the other? What precludes these things? Is where we are going as a global society something to talk about, more? I wonder. (I’m just riffing here. Let’s talk, if you want to: there’s a form at this page.)
(Side story: ‘I studied the philosophy of art. A guy named __.’ ‘Oh yeah! What did he say??’ ‘It was a long time ago. I can’t remember.’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘…’ ‘Are you bored?’ ‘YES.’ <—- This is why I don’t go out, often, to the ‘normal’ places where it’s socially encouraged to mingle. And the exact reason I made S P A C E.)
I’m bored, of course, (of course? Is it a given, really?) with the status quo. Always have been. Always will be. The status quo is where stuff gets sucked into the pockets of mediocirty, the whole ‘We’ve already run that kind of a story,’ thinking or, ‘This is just how it has always been, DK, can we just go back to the way we’ve always done it?’ Me: Please, no. Please, let’s try something new. Can we? No? You don’t want to? Well, okay. Goodbye. How many times have I been stuck? 61. I counted. And now, let’s move forwards. Let’s go to Malaysia. Let’s go see who’s around, and what we can experience, together. Ready, set.
AVAILABLE in both print and soft copy, this issue of S P A C E is a 2-volume, limited edition zine. It was released on June 1, 2018.
It’s set in Kuala Lumpur in December, 2017, when DK and others were gathered there for Atelier S P A C E to look for the hyperlocal story and make a zine. It relates the honest dialogue between two women (‘both middle-aged, single, and tough with men’). In the story, two main characters, both brassy in very different ways, open their innermost vaults of secrets to one another, swapping candid stories about ‘the way it is,’ in their respective opinions, when it comes to love, admiration, power, and sexuality.
Sweet dreams are made of this/ Travel the world and the seven seas/ Everybody’s looking for something… —Eurythmics
THE HEROINE of this piece is a woman whose real-life story left DK so speechless, that we completely overhauled the story originally published last winter. Since then, the team collaborating on the zine continued shaping the story, to refine the so that it is much more a portrait of one particular strain of a life, a style, and a philosophy.
In this work of creative nonfiction, ‘Kaunter Tiket,’ corporate exec Ritu Raj meets a remarkable and unexpected chance encounter, and sees in an insightful instant it will reframe her perceptions of material, and personal, success.
Worlds apart, but joined in their experience of a series of life experiences with common denominators, two women enter an all-night dialogue that will touch on all angles they can manage to delve into on the subject of love relationships.
Look forward in this short, packed zine to discovering an unexpected intrigue, witnessing closehand a superior poise, cutting up mainstream media’s images of female beauty, and being allowed to witness a bright, passionate resilience.
Set in the smoky billow of neither heartbreak nor apathy, but reality, the story starts somewhere behind Jalan Sultan Ismail.
New recountings of age-old narratives invite you to rethink painted facades and false illusion, to re-examine your own storages of untested so-called certainties that may just disintegrate when challenged arduously, (as was the real life experience that inspired this story), by someone who simply knows a thing, by living it, a thing very basic and primal, and yet, a thing that many of us will never be able to access. DK insist that true connexion starts with showing up, that means paying attention, noticing and being there when someone begins to let the floodgates open. In this case, an honest beginning of just such a kind of personal connexion led DK and the team at Atelier S P A C E to revise theories about ‘status’ and ‘motive,’ and to note with alacrity thanks to one woman’s wisdom, how nothing and no one are as they may at first seem.
‘Well, you know I can’t really judge. I’ve been doing the same thing all day.’
‘I mean, if it was ten years ago, and MA and I were hanging out having our meetups on Tuesdays like we used to, all those many lovely weeks, I think… we would have turned it into something similar. Co-worky and everything. I’m sure of it, actually, now that I think about it. But we didn’t because we didn’t have that technology. Instead we talked. A lot, really. And those were memories I treasure from those days.’
‘You guys did that regularly. Every..’
‘Tuesday at ten. At Vicky T’s. I really got to know her over those chats. Something about showing up, regularly, over time. All those weeks, those doodling sessions, conversations, just letting things come up as they wanted to. Not forcing it.. .making the time for one another. Just us, that was nice. It’s actually the only thing I miss about Seattle. And JB, of course. JB, for sure.”
‘And yeah, now that I think about it… it IS weird. Co-worky office-y over dinner with laptops, phones, and wine, and food, and phones, and phones and laptops and texts…’
‘Sometimes I’m just glad I was born when I was. But then again, like I said, I did do the whole computing thing all day. So I can’t judge.’
Update: April 12. Very warm thank-you to those who helped me think carefully about the writing for the letter to ask for funds for the Finland programme. I am going to circle back to you individually, so hang on there for a bit, and I will give you the personal report on what’s going to happen next. Meantime, check out the updates on this project at this page.
Be sure to add your name to the mailing list there to be more closely connected, in the months to come.
MAKING OUR WAY TO N. EUROPE in the coming weeks to host Atelier S P A C E around and about in Finland. This means starting the process of following up on all the general notes we had shared towards that part of the world in 2017. DK are seeking:
design studio partners
art book publishing partners
jazz club owners
self-initiating others to do _____
for a popup, traveling zinemaking atelier series, Atelier S P A C E.
CURIOUS? This page outlines how we are making proposals for partnering with people for an installation in Phnom Penh. Open to your suggestions on how to:
discover and engage with new people in creative, and other fields
so that we can design
occasions, experiences, ateliers and salons that
get us all out of our boxes and usual routines
to discover the world, to listen to each other, and to play
in truly remarkable ways
one conversation at a time.
Yes? Ask me for the PDF that outlines our offer, and the ethos and method of Atelier S P A C E, in detail. Use this form to reach me:
STARTING THIS WEEK, we are sharing the updates to the journey of Atelier S P A C E. through a new mailing list. I wanted to just acknowledge all the very many people I have met who have been a part of this, so far. Thank you, you know who you are.
It’s about us connecting in person, for a chat, a conversation, and a chance to write or photograph or draw. Together, on the spot. Part of the time I realize I was overthinking this. Overdesigning, too. It got out of hand, I fully admit that. What’s important to is to persist, and insist, as I do, that short form works are great for starting what is hard: starting. All if the creative process that comes out of the starting is going to be what it is, sure. But… Did we make a start at a thing? Atelier S P A C E asks you to take a chance, do a little jam, play a little tune, but instead of with music, with words.
We are still at it, still making zines. Next stop: Finland.
Not that we are ‘zinesters,’ but, it’s been fun to play with the photocopier and make these. A few from Sept.. 2017-March 2018. Sharing through tomorrow at our popup installation, Zinery & Finery, at DK World HQ in Phnom Penh.
And I’m going to send it to just the five of us, and that’s it.
It’s called A Song for Jean Rhys.
Jean Rhys inspired the work, in a big way, of hosting The Mirror.
Writing needn’t be about mass producing, or selling, or convincing, or debunking. Sometimes, writing can just be about sharing. Making a quiet space, and letting that be enough. Enough. Letting things slow and experiencing this here, this now, is enough… What if that could be a philosophy?
Asia for five years now. You let go a little bit of the old programmes. I know I’ve written that somewhere before, but it isn’t a bad thing to underscore it. Letting go of the programmes. To see, finally, when we can make space, to be together for a time, to listen and to share, that’s neat. That’s being here, being here now. Some people who have mentored me have shown me the ways to try to include the quiet spaces in my everyday, and indeed, to let them take the center stage. Stillness. Quieting. I’m living next to temples. I’m learning to stay the journeys now, without abruptly quitting a person, time, or place. But… Selectively. The small poem is ‘A Song for Jean Rhys.’ It isn’t for sharing here, but there, in our closed circle, where things have gone from small and simple maybe things to wow, this is good, this is right things. Is this intimacy?… is this beauty? Is this the whole thing of Art?
SOME DISTANT DAY. Big questions, but we don’t have to resolve anything. Rilke said, to the young poet, don’t ask so many questions, but let yourself live your way toward the answers… Of course he said it better, but it’s past midnight and the scrap of paper I had written it on is, oh, no, wait! I typed it! In Cameron Highlands! Here… Indexed, searched… found:
Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Do not… seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’ —Rilke’s letters to a young poet
Atelier S P A C E is DK’s popup, zinemaking on-the-spot workshop. The idea is to gather a handful of people to meet and cocreate a short publication. A zine.
So far, DK has hosted Atelier S P A C E in: Battambang, Singapore, Penang, KL, and a few smaller cities in Malaysia. Zines from Atelier S P A C E have appeared at writers festivals in Singapore and Georgetown Penang, so far, and more appearances are set for a Finland tour in the summer.
Be a part of the international conversation.
For the full five-day programme in Bangkok, it is THB 8000.
Register by 5 March to confirm your spot. Get tickets here. ✨
‘It’s good that we can still talk. A good conversation!’
‘It is. It was.’
‘About so many kinds of things! It keeps it new. I like that.’
‘I do, too.’
‘I think… I think that what’s really interesting is when you can have the old things and the new things, together.’
‘I was talking about this the other day, when I was telling you I had such a great conversation jam? That was really fun, and you know, there are more things to talk about, all the time, as we go, because the talking towards some kind of discovery, even with the limitation of language as that is there, you know Niels Bohr said—‘
‘Who you love to quote.’
‘Who I love to quote! Who I love!, and yeah, he said, “We are suspended in words.”‘
‘I think that S P A C E and writing like this is about suspension.’
‘Everybody thinks they want stuff to be grounded, you know. Clear. Crazy clear and understandable, the bullet-point list. The one-pager. But… We also like to curiously float off sometimes, too. No one admits this out loud! I mean you can’t. It’s crazy talk.’
‘But what you said, earlier, and last night, and everything. That was good. That was helpful. Informative.’
‘That was! Thanks.’
‘So we’re not fighting now.’
‘I like that we could skip over all the stuff we used to do, like sit around and process all the line-by-line stuff. I think I was just tired. And sick. I’ve been so sick. And all these papers, everywhere. And yeah. I’ve got to make a whole batch of zines, S P A C E || Malaysia has Ipoh, Cameron, Melaka, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur… And I’m only two-fifths done… And…’
‘Productivity isn’t the point.’
‘The journey is.’
‘Yes. But that is so… Philosophical and everything. But it is. The journey.’
‘So, where’s next?’
Join us in S P A C E for more conversations. This month, we are giving away to new subscribers a PDF copy of Dipika Kohli’s book, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016). It’s also available here.
‘My files, huh. All of my files. Oh, man. The templates. For the zines. And the posters. For the zines… Oooh.’
‘Did you make a backup?’
*sheepishly* ‘Of my profile. Yeah.’
‘I know I should have made some backups. But wow. All of that stuff? Gone?’
‘I guess I’ll have to use my cracked iPad and keyboard without the little bit in it to keep the batteries in because I lost it on T’s boat, he was there, it was funny, I had to suddenly go to the airport and stuff because I got the day wrong, one day earlier, was the real day, and you told me that, and we were talking remember and there was a lot of food I forgot to clean up really and then time was short and you know how hard it is trying to find a little round metal thingy on a boat? It’s hard.’
‘You can get a new keyboard.’
‘No, I kind of like this. Foil works. And K. cleaned it off rather nicely, with that damp cloth that you got annoyed about.’
‘Do you want to buy some more stuff? Like a computer or laptop or something?’
‘No, no. Too expensive and heavy. Maybe I’ll just get a job at some design studio. And use their InDesign to lay out my zines, when I’m not working or something. Or maybe there’s an Internet cafe with the software, fast wifi, fast processor, air conditioning. Then again, those Internet cafes in Malaysia were kind of hit and miss. I didn’t enjoy the gambling and porn. And kids. So many kids.’
‘So you can buy a computer?’
‘You can raise funds. You know that.’
‘How? Ask people to pay for my computer so I can lay out zines that are made with other people I don’t know in small circles, at cities I haven’t been to before, or yet, and discovered stories on the ground, about, and co-created mini-zines in 8-page folded A4?’
‘That sounds pretty good, actually.’
‘Yeah! Do it.’
‘Guess I could try. It’s a lot further along than when we left the United States, isn’t it? When it was like, We wanna go around the world making dialogue round tables!’
‘Even though that’s exactly what we did.’
6/100. Join us in S P A C E. So we can send you a weekly zine about who we’ve met and what we’ve learned, together. And in 500 weeks or something we can buy some serious equipment to replace the stuff that will, no doubt, also somehow ‘go missing.’ To the journeys, and sunk costs. ✨
‘DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. When you come back! It’s not like people are going to come flocking around just to see you!’
‘It’s not like they care!’
‘I, um. I know.’
‘I don’t want you to get it in your head that someone or something is going to come into shape according to your head’s picture of it just because your head has a picture of it! I want you to know that there are high likelihoods that nothing at all will happen, at all! I want you to understand that!’
‘I understand. I have no expectations. Promise.’
‘That includes talking so much! To me! I’m so needing not to talk so much. We go around Intellectualizing everything and it is such a drag, and it gets in the way of actually communicating with actual people who aren’t US. Do you understand? I want you to understand this. I so, so do.’
‘Kay. I do.’
‘Yeah. I already promised once.’
”Well, what are you going to do do then? When you come back?’
‘To Phnom Penh?’
‘Yeah, yeah. Unless you want to go somewhere else?’
‘No, no. Where am I going to go? I have nothing planned until June.’
‘So yeah. They give you a month visa, right? Then I’ll just not extend it. I’ll find somewhere else to move to and I’ll go to that other place, after.’
‘After what? You said you didn’t have expectations!’
‘I don’t! But I do…’
‘Think it’s nice to have a bit of…’
‘Comfort. Familiarity. A sense of place. Home.’
‘Cambodia? Is home?’
‘Bangkok sure ain’t! And yeah. Phnom Penh. Is… One of them. Homes.’
‘So it’s not that I want to go and make a bunch of projects or try to round people up for esoteric conversations. That was hard to do even in Seattle! In Copenhagen! In London! I mean, really! If people in the big city whose native languages or closely studied second languages are like mine and people in other places I’ve lived whose culture is like mine, whatever that is, well, if THEY don’t get it, f**ing hell, damn if I can show up in PP and try to conjure something out of thin air!’
‘That’s the magic of it. For me. For us. We have some kind of special privilege because we’re not local. And that means lots of scope to just write and draw and make zines or whatever. Four years of this. That’s a long time. Cambodia! Yeah. You can just go there and be responsible and not exploits or pushy about your religious views and don’t upset anyone or ruffle stuff or become a pain or generally be like a lot of people are you know what I mean… Just. No cultural imperialism stuff you know… and you can stay a while and out of the dusty streets and ornamented rigidity, out of the beautiful haute fashion hatwear that no one realizes is so damn intriguing, and the small kindnesses that show up when you find the people who are going to be your real friends, or just one friend, I guess, for each of us, right?, well that’s pretty good! A lifetime of living and I’ve only got two friends, really. One of them I haven’t seen since 2013! F. Is this the world we are in now? This lonely, lonely world?’
‘I wanna be free. I wanna have a good time. I wanna do what I wanna do…’
‘You sound like that Primal Scream Song. Loaded. I wanna get loaded…‘
‘Yeah! It IS like that long! Oooh! I’m gonna have a party.’
‘So you ARE going to do something. Just…’
‘”Don’t expect anything!”‘
3/100. This is part of a series of 100 conversations. Written in S P A C E. Ooh, yeah. HT RKP I still have your tape.✨