A song for Jean Rhys, a letter from Rilke

FIVE OF US. Wrote a poem together.

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 || Bangkok

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. ✨

S P A C E || Breakfasting

‘THAT WAS GREAT.’

‘It was.’

‘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.’

‘Yeah.’

‘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.’

‘No.’

‘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.’

‘No.’

‘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.

S P A C E || Technical issue

‘OH.’

‘Yeah.’

‘So, like, what was on it.’

‘Files.’

‘My files, huh. All of my files. Oh, man. The templates. For the zines. And the posters. For the zines… Oooh.’

‘Yeah…’

‘Did you make a backup?’

*sheepishly* ‘Of my profile. Yeah.’

‘Oh.’

‘Um.’

‘I know I should have made some backups. But wow. All of that stuff? Gone?’

‘Yes… Sorry.’

‘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?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘Funds.’

‘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?’

‘Yeah.’

‘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…’

‘Even though that’s exactly what we did.’

*high5*

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. ✨

S P A C E || Loaded

‘DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. When you come back! It’s not like people are going to come flocking around just to see you!’

‘I know.’

‘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.’

‘You promise?’

‘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?’

‘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…’

‘What?’

‘Think it’s nice to have a bit of…’

‘What?’

‘Comfort. Familiarity. A sense of place. Home.’

‘Cambodia? Is home?’

‘Bangkok sure ain’t! And yeah. Phnom Penh. Is… One of them. Homes.’

‘Hm.’

‘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!’

‘…’

”Then again…’

‘What?’

‘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?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Well, damnit.’

‘What.’

‘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.✨

S P A C E || The best is yet to come

GETTING SET here in Bangkok for our 6-10 March zine design atelier. Atelier S P A C E || Bangkok.

I’ll welcome just a very small handful of people to cocreate an eighth-page zine.

Read more under Upcomings and find out how to get involved in the international conversation that interweaves people and place, in S P A C E.

(What? Yeah…)

S P A C E || In mixed company

DK hosts ‘In Mixed Company,’ a sequel to ’16N’ which happened in Bangkok in October, 2015. Meet new people in remarkable ways. Prompt-led, guided conversation in a way that opens you up to try new personas, play a little with identity, and brush up your imrovisation skills. Be prepared for anything, expect the unexpected.

‘Weird and intriguing’ —Guest at ‘Hello August’

Zines will be on display to peruse, enjoy, and to take home. Make sure to RSVP to book, as we have very limited seats. Max 6. Use this form to RSVP:

S P A C E || New things

MEET DK in Kuala Lumpur to talk about things related to creativity, learning, play, travel, journaling, and the journeys. It’s an open-space format conversation salon. If you’re curious about new and different others, and are interested in a chance to connect I ways that don’t involve hand phones, Google, CVs, or bars, this could be a good fit, for you. Ideas. Personalities. Really talking, and about things in depth, not trivially: that’s S P A C E. This is part of the Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur (17-30 January) programme. Location details to be shared with those who indicate interest in attending. Let us know you’re interested thorugh this form? Agenda, meetpoint to follow from there.

S P A C E || The travel bug

I THINK we have it. A theme. For our next zinemaking popup, Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Kumpur. Travel. Transit hub that it is, it makes a great setting for the kinds of meandering that wanderers love. Let’s talk travel, new places, showing up, taking chances, favorite music, best of’s, and more. And let’s do it in real life, with our phones turned off, in a box. Yes? Hit us up for details. Or check out this page.

Hello Kuala Lumpur

IT IS INCREDIBLE. The road. How it teaches. You just have no idea where you are going to go, and then, there you are. Writing today from a small unexpectedly well-connected wifi place. Fast. Lucky. Reflecting lately on the journeys, typing and sharing the gems in S P A C E. Enjoying offline random conversations. So many! A few intriguing people; no, no, that’s understating. More than a few. A dozen? Atelier S P A C E has brought me to them. A Programme that is by design about bumping into chance encounters, during specific windows of time in selected spaces. Going and finding these ‘boxes’, be they cafes or lounges, bars or museums, whatever and however it works it works, but the important part is that there has to be a good feeling about them. Chemistry is big. What is the quality of the space that we are shaping? Something like ‘the third place,’ is the closest I’ve found. But with a spark: a little twinge of !*, an ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ And ‘Huh!’ I like to think of it as the magic moment. You have to design for it. And you can. It’s pretty neat.

There was more here, before, but I deleted it. I guess it just felt pretty personal, and it was hard to get so full-on intimate outside of the boxes that we make, in our ateliers, and in our online ‘rooms’ for conversation. Something has changed, I guess, for me. More interested in small scales, human scale dialogues. With new, and different others. So many of the people I *just met*, for example, are exceedingly interesting—for a time. in the shape of space that moves and shifts, these encounters linger and press a kind of memory. But the new news is this. Memories of memories change, in fact, too. What do we think about, how we feel, where we were, what’s next… All questions to think about, if you are the thinking-about-questions sort. If you are, let me know. We have more things ahead, in S P A C E.

Blink, and 2017 ended.

 

 

After Cameron

THE ATELIER S P A C E Programme here in Cameron Highlands just wrapped and we shared a little about it yesterday in our eZine, S P A C E. Thinking about the people we met and the stories they shared. That means in the atelier, and outside of it, too. Everything is embedded in a kind of context, right? Sometimes I forget to share with you about the ambient S P A C E. What it looks like outside of our designed frames, there are normal things. Cars. Traffic. Holiday jams. The street life that, when you really look at it all, is where the whole thing starts, for me, when it comes to thinking about what or where to make into a specially hosted box of time-space, which is the Atelier S P A C E. I know it’s weird and esoteric. Story of my life. But getting time here to chat with lots and lots of new people, new and very different others, in the contexts of regular life, regular space, is helping me talk about it in a way that, I hope, will be more clear going forward. Show up, see what happens: that’s the gist of all we are up to framing space for, here. Which just means setting it up: a slot of time, a place, a small circle of people… Highly self-selecting group, necessarily, for everything. Always amazed by the fascinating people who come forward for these programmes. Today I am thinking of SY and SS, whom I wish could join me for a cafe chat right here, where I am today. File under ‘relational aesthetics,’ HT to JB. (I finished the book.)

Let’s talk travel, photography, and wanderlust

TODAY AND TOMORROW, we are in Cameron Highlands hosting a popup salon-workshop. The theme this time is photography, and travel in general. Never thought that I would start writing and blogging and conversing about #travel, you know, with the hashtags and everything. It seems so overdone, these days. It seems like people all over the place want to write about all their places they go and all the people they meet and collect them up on social media and pretend like everything is supersaturated, perfect-perfect posty-posty. You know what I’m talking about, right? Anyway, I got inspired to host this when I found this place, and stuck around long enough to have gotten a feel for it. It is authentic. That’s why we’re doing the popup here. Let’s talk travel, wanderlust, showing up, real life, and authentically gathering and sharing stories. We will do this together in a very small circle, with those who opt-in to join me for Atelier S P A C E || Cameron. In Cameron Highlands? Discover more about this popup atelier, when you click ‘upcomings’ and the details are all there. To the journeys! The new, and the next.

Atelier S P A C E || Cameron Highlands

LIVING IN or traveling through Malaysia? Join Design Kompany for a weekend getaway in Cameron Highlands. You’ll be part of an international traveling atelier to make zines in different cities and locations around the world. We will be in Cameron Highlands to make S P A C E || Cameron in late December, 2017. What’s involved, who will come, and how it will play out will be determined based on the people who show up. Google ‘open space technologies’ to see how open space unconferencing works. Learn more and ask us anything when you apply through the form, below. A short-course zinemaking popup. Max: 8.

Apply through this form:

Letter from the Editor

WELCOME. S P A C E is where you are.

S P A C E is an eZine, a print zine, and a series of real life ateliers.

It looks like this. We are making these ateliers.

WHY MAKE SPACE. We are doing this because we love new people, new places, and sharing from our 20 years of experience in calling out some of the best of conversation through carefully designed and well-facilitated space for real dialogue.

VALUES. Authenticity and sincerity over coolness and broadcasting, for us. No posers. No fakes. No phonies. (And no phones, please. When you join one of our ateliers, we will ask you to put yours in a box, stow it away, and attend to it when we are finished).

Who’s interested? It’s not for everyone, real life. But it’s where we like hanging out it.

S P A C E is invisible. But S P A C E connects us all.

Subscribe here | View upcoming ateliers

 

S P A C E || Launch party for the new zine, S P A C E || Penang

BE PART OF the of the launch party and low-key conversations about spaces where we can meet new people, and learn new things. DK will share zines we have been making with others since 2014 in cities like Phnom Penh, Bangkok, London, Copenhagen, Malmoe, Singapore, and Battambang. Should be relaxed, small, intimate, and low-key. We’ll bring the PLAY sign (pictured) and a textbook, Inquiry (partly pictured), which some may find curious.

Discover more when you join this unique, once-off real life event and meet new people also interested in developing their writing, when you join.

Learn more about Atelier S P A C E at this page.

S P A C E: The Art of Not Knowing

Converse. Connect. Discover. New people, new thinking, and new perspectives. Sharing in real life with people you have no idea just how much you might have in common with. It’s a new year, coming up, and this is a chance to take stock on where you’ve been so far, and chart a course for where you’re going. How do you do this when you don’t have everything ‘figured out?’ A prompt-led dialogue that will feature breakout sessions, small group work, and introspective reflection, all in one short afternoon, could very well be just the nudge you need to motivate yourself to follow your heart, and dream big. As seen in Hanoi (May-June 2017), ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ is a light and fun conversation salon that will make time and room for you to explore these exciting and deeply personal questions, but not in an intrusive way, and with a lot of lightheartedness along the way. See for yourself. See what making space can reveal to you about… you. Hashtag? #dada #surrealist #exploration #selfconcept

Just 6 spots. RSVP to confirm your attendance. RSVP through this form:

S P A C E || The Creative Process

In a set of conversations these last two weeks in Penang, DK has learned something cool. We found that there are many here who want to talk, in some depth, about the creative process itself. This is exciting.

MAKE

I am reminded of MAKE, a conversation salon we had held in the US, where I had invited eight guest panelists to convene and make a short comment to kick off what then became a meandering, unforgettable session. Some friends still quote from it, when we talk together about our newest or latest, because we are also aware that we are constantly developing a voice, and can’t see it in full until we play a bit, well, let’s be honest, a lot, and see what patterns emerge. What does our output creatively tell us about ourselves? Our conversations will shake out some of that, guaranteed.

Serious makers and creatives truly enjoy occasions to share on this informal, real time, and in real life way with others also struggling with questions of purpose, form, technique and gumption to keep making, when we aren’t sure where we are even going, when we do.

An Asian upbringing, for me, puts me in the same category that many I have met in Malaysia are, too: we ask ourselves (at the start, anyway) questions like: what about practicality, of following the Programme not only society seems to be setting, but your Parents are, too. No one wants to be a disappointment. But can you make really good work if that concern for what others expect or think of you will box you in, will limit you? I struggled with this question myself for a decade, then made a choice that I never looked back on or regretted. I will share that story at this event.

Here’s what will happen. Drawing from a past career in architecture, design, branding, and journalism, DK will bring forward a series of conversation-starting questions that might help some of those who are curious about Creative Process find ways to add troops to their own repertoire of how to make.

RM 50pp.

RSVP for location details, and to confirm your attendance. To RSVP, contact us through the form at this page.

 

The why of S P A C E

WHAT IS S P A C E about? Starting in Battambang in Cambodia in Sept. 2017, we are moving in Asia to discover people who are curious, creative, and ready for something new. Our cocreated Battambang issue was on the topic, Ennui. In Singapore (10-12 Nov) our zine was on the theme The Third Place. In Penang (6-11 Dec) we took a different focus, Growth. The launch party for S P A C E {}| Penang is on Monday, 11 December, at the Bricklin Cafe at Hin Bus Depot. DK are looking forward to sharing the journeys from 2014-2017 around to different cities of the world to discover people and hyperlocal narratives, and pack them into short zines.

How did we find these themes?

Each is based on what conversations emerge when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work on a piece that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. These pop up from real life when we converse offline with new and different others. It brings storyfinding back to person to person contact, while ‘journalism’ becomes increasingly less human-centered. Who will we tell our real selves to? Each other, in real life, offline, away from package-making for others and towards more listening for common threads and similar experiences. In so doing, we feel more connected, DK have found, and inspired to improve, too.

What is Atelier S P A C E trying to do?

Consider possibilities. Try new things. Stay open. In a nutshell, it’s about helping people find ways to get out of their box. Comfort zones can be places where it seems cozy, but actually, lulls us into a creatively deadening complacency.

Our atelier is about designing a custom framework in each place that will set the stage for really interesting thinking and human connexion to actually *happen*, and DK select very carefully the venues, times of day, and themes so that guests of Atelier S P A C E can experience a relaxed, intellectually stimulating, space for dialogue. Dialogue of the kind with a center, and not sides.

It isn’t for everyone, this style of looking for the new and making zines in-situ, on the spot, with those we are inviting to play in S P A C E, but it works for people seeking a personal challenge to try new things and grow. Especially useful for people who have done a lot, careerwise, and seen firsthand that there are massive limits to what anyone can do on her own, yet few ways to invite truly engaging collaboration.

So we created Atelier S P A C E for this set of us. It is best for those who are interested in developing a creative voice, and making what is artful. DK has been practicing this since 2008 in Seattle, Durham NC, and Phnom Penh in workshops for a wide mix of people, and is sharing now through these popup ateliers tools, tips, and anecdotes that equip guests to become more confident creatively. Atelier S P A C E is a self-funded project.

Read about what’s coming up in 2018 at our calendar, here.