Change starts with wanting to


 

PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY IN MOTION know that the hardest part about starting a thing is, well, starting.

In classic high school Newtonian physics, the coefficient of static friction is greater than the coefficient of kinetic friction. Which means that if you had a mass on a flat surface, for example, you would need less force to push it and keep it moving at a certain velocity if it was already in motion (kinetic) than if, say, it was just sitting there, not moving at all (static). Friction exists. Sure it does. It’s a fact of life. It’s just… Coping with it. If you only have a limited amount of effort you can make, might as well do it where you know that it’s going to have more impact. This is a topic that we are discussing in our current online programme, The Mirror. It’s been quite a few weeks of learning and discovering how to talk more, how to talk more clearly, and how to shape a space in our online forums that, I hope, will continue to seed new inspirations and angles on things, for those of us writing and interconnecting. What would be the map for that kind of quality exchange? How would its arteries be shaped, where would be the high flow channels? (Forgive me, I’m a civil engineer by training… I tend to enjoy things like fluid dynamics and city planning, and building infrastructure for social [ex]change.)

INITIATIVE. Naturally, because of the friction thing, you discover when you are trying out stuff that something new is harder to get going when it’s standing still, or ‘to get it off the ground,’ or to initiate. So much gets in the way. Cloudy headed from your own self-doubt, that’s one, that’s the first hurdle, then there are more and more layers that impede you from moving towards, well, just the starting line. Let’s be honest about it, shall we? Today, I wanted to share a little bit about some people who have inspired me. Specifically, I want to tell you about their work to take an initiative, not just talk, but actually do, to get past blocks, and actually make a thing happen. Two are in Cameron, one is in Melaka. Malaysia. Asia.

So much more to say here about how hard it is to go against the grain of what’s socially acceptable, and what your parents say, and what your peer group is doing, and the general rules about what you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing which are so, so hard to get around. None of them knew, at the start, if their venture ‘would work.’ The Cameron story is just a few months old, and the Melaka one a little longer, but the bonus points that I want to give here for the people who are making and doing are there because they are making and doing in Asia. (I can relate. I come from Asian roots. Even in those United States, growing up with the steadfast rules that Asia extends even when its natives go away, far away, breaking out of the boxes is never a cake walk.)

ASIA. Yeah. Here, it’s extra hard, for the handful of reasons I just mentioned, but also because there aren’t a lot of examples of really interesting creative risk taking. On account of maybe government censorship stuff, too, but also, hey, there’re just not a lot (that I can find easily) of the creative class scene (which is difficult to define, but you have a feeling of it when you see it, right?). Understandably. It’s so hard to get a thing that is new and different to be valued: much simpler to follow the lines that have already been painted for you, go through the motions, live within the boundaries instead of breaking out of the margins. Starting a business and doing it for yourself is hard, everywhere. But it’s multiply difficult to do it, in my opinion, if you are young and taking the chance, and going against what’s accepted in these parts of the world, where enterprise isn’t seen as cool and edgy, but a risk that might embarrass not just you, but those who are near to you. And saving face is such a big part of everything, here, that the whole ‘fail early, fail fast’ rah-rah stuff that the US West Coasters like to run around in cities of Asia touting as the way forward just simply doesn’t blend in with the native program. Does it make sense? With that background, what I’m sharing next, to me, seems extra impressive. Here are the two businesses I wanted to talk about today…

 

Map Travelodge, Cameron Highlands

Cousins Aaron Goh 吴秉洛, left, and Peter Goh 吴秉腾 started Map Travelodge. 

 

 

UP IN CAMERON HIGHLANDS, known locally as just ‘Cameron,’ I met a pair of cousins who started their own venture, and what struck me about it, was that, through dialogue and casual conversation over the course of four days, then ten, then, at the time of this writing, an embarrassingly lengthy perhaps 20, because once I find a place I like I tend to stick around, well, in the chats and learning I got to see that there are still people who are trying things, even when they don’t know what’s going to happen. Doing it on their own, doing it with their own gumption, and doing what they know a teensy bit about how is what Aaron Goh 吴秉洛 and Peter Goh 吴秉腾 are up to, in Cameron, their native town in the hills here in Malaysia, where I’m writing from at this moment. I wanted to come to the higher country and put down some thoughts about space, about geometry, about systems and emergence, but all of that is sitting in a pile of notes while I write today’s thing, which is about deciding to want to change.

You know, they could have continued doing their jobs: Aaron was working in a big hotel in Penang for six years. He’s now 26. His cousin, Peter, loves traveling and has tons and tons of beautiful photographs (and if you know me, you know I don’t just offer compliments easily, especially on photography). Based on his own travels, Peter told me he wanted to create a ‘backpacker’s home.’ He wanted it to have all the things you would want, if you were living out of a bag and being on the road somewhere. Cafe. Warm reception. Laundry. Food. Privacy in your own space, that sort of thing, And it does, this place, that the two of them co-founded. It’s called Map Travelodge, there’s a humongous wall map that you just can’t not look at for a long time, and I guess seeing that, straightaway, along with the rack of postcards that I found out only later were all taken by Peter himself (no Instagram, no big sign saying ‘look at my beautiful pictures,’ so rare and refreshing in the era of narcissistic exhibitionism. Taken together, to me these things add up to authenticity and being good. Speaking of which, I asked Peter what makes a photograph ‘good.’ He said it is about timing. Then he went and got a postcard with some lions. Their eyes really popped out, so deep and penetrating, and so did the azure of the background sky. Timing, he said, makes the difference. (The same could be said about relationships, how they develop. You watch you learn, you wait. It takes time to grow towards a thing, to feel yourself connecting with it. Right?)

 

Gastro Coffee Bar, Melaka

IN THE MIDST OF MY STAY IN CAMERON, I took a break to go down to Melaka, to see what my favorite cousin calls ‘hoopla.’ Touristy stuff. There, I discovered despite all the attractions and heritage stuff and people around taking pictures, that I only wanted to take one shot. It’s weird, doing this ‘just one shot’ in a place thing. In the past I was a freelance photographer full time. So that seems odd, but it’s what it is. These days, I only share them with people in DK’s online community, S P A C E. The cheapening of people and places through over documentation, the lack of attention to detail and relating to the people who are experiencing the detail, subverting qualify for something superficial and ‘sexy’, like food porn (?), or insta friendship… These are the sorts of things I got talking about with the owner and proprietor of Gastro Coffee Bar. It’s in a quieter street, not like you’d run into it if you stuck to the main one-day tour route. It took me a few days to warm up to talking about real things, but we did, and in depth, and I wanted to mention her here in this little note on the web about cool people, smart and talented, doing their best to make something out of scratch, despite the odds. (And frowns, from Society, and general I articulated but highly present, palpable dismissiveness, from The West.) Tough subjects!… But why avoid them? I got to meet the incredible Nisa Aziz, owner and proprietor, and the resident cat in her space, and to tell them that I don’t publish the most intimate pieces I write. Why? Relating. Takes time to work up to. A getting to know you. (Japanese-speaking friends might appreciate it put this way: a kaiwa that hazumu-s.) Well, yeah. Of course you want to relate. You want to feel your way towards knowing, a little, and being known is nice, if and when it happens, too. So you wait. Is there going to be a connection? That only time can tell. Or the lions, in the case of Peter Goh’s timing and photography. Letting themselves be seen, at last. Fully, fully naked, but only to the eye that has built the trust with them, a rapport. Relating. And now, let me return to Cameron, and complete the story there.

 

Being who you are

 

 

DOING THEIR OWN THING really impresses me, watching Gastro. And Map, and its day-to-day, and meeting the new staff who’ve come on since my return. Dealing with people, the front desk reception, isn’t easy work, especially when you have girls in the dorm who start obsessing arbitrarily about bed bugs, which I watched unfold one evening at about 1AM in a conference that, really, wow, to watch it… There weren’t any, bugs that is, there were just paranoid people who were taking pictures of flies or whatever and screaming away as they cross-referenced them with the Internet.

People are a little zany, at times. One girl talked for like 4 hours about it. There was an expert, a 22-year old who’d been talking with me quite calmly moments before about Love and Art, but subjects those are, too, and she came in to share everything she knew from having just experienced this, like how to cope with these things, yeah. She came in from another room, and started to give a mini lecture. This was what happened. Big-eyed people were shooting questions at her, and she happily replied in detail. ‘They look like this… you seem let me describe this, or wait, see, how this would be, the shape is this. Their feet look like this… They grow like this… The light changes it, they aren’t going to come out if there’s light… This is how to cope, and then… Make sure you… warm water… Don’t forget that these things are also good to know… And when that happens, this is what you can expect next…’ While all this went on, a dozen heads poked out, you had to open your curtain to hear, and we all leaned out, watching her. She lit up on that stage, expanding in long form about how bed bugs move around, reproduce, grow, and are eradicated. People jumped in with their burning questions. ‘Can they walk across the floor? Is my bag okay there? Have you seen one here?! Can they go through zippers? Can they eat clothing? Can they reproduce inside your sheets? Can they stay alive for days?’ I couldn’t help it. I just went, ‘Can they apparate?’…

 

All kinds of ways to try a thing

‘Kenya’ photograph on a postcard by Peter Goh.

A BUNCH OF PEOPLE would be gone the next day, as happens in a place like this that rotates clientele regularly. They’d go and more would come, and you’d hear the same exact stories every time. ‘We just got here. We’re going to figure out what trail or tour we’re going to do tomorrow, then we’re going to go for dinner.’ There are card games, or chess, in the common room, which is nice to see. Wifi is spotty so you just have to wing it, and it’s kind of refreshing to see people talking talking instead of just zoning out doing what I’m doing right now (typing into a device).

These things make me happy. People who are making things, sharing things. Doing things. Not because they have to, but because they want to. They’re not in this because they want to make a ton of money, that much is clear. They’re making a space. Just like us, here at DK. To host people. To give you a place to stop in, for a while. Make sure you’re comfortable, that the space you’re in is safe, and clean. How much more could you ask, when you’re on the road for a while, far from home? Yeah, it would be neat to share this coliving experience with friends or family, one day, but my friends and family aren’t about to hop on a plane to Asia and stop in to a hostel with me for a while!… Ludicrous!

I guess there’s just a stigma around pushing out of your zone, challenging your static friction coefficient, in a way, and going and doing whatever you bloody well feel like doing. It’s a luxury and privilege, I recognize, to be able to do this moving forth and generally meandering thing, but now that I look back on the last five years, I realize it’s more than that. It’s wanting it. Change starts there. With wanting it. You can go and stay where you are and wish and hope and talk about things, but you don’t really go and do them not because you can’t, but because, deep down, you don’t really want to. Me? I’m not interested in turning this blog into a ‘how we did it’ thing. That’s just dumb. I’m interested in sharing tools and tips and resources with people like Nisa, Peter, and Aaron, who are young and on their way. They’re already experiencing the ups and downs that will continue to befall them, there’s no going around it, you just have to go through. But you teach yourself so much when you do… Go through.

Like business, like travel, like starting new chapters, change is the thing that has to come from within, from wanting it. Not for everyone. And to return to that question of what makes a thing good, I’ll love to tell you more about that, if you become part of S P A C E in March or April, where the theme is Quality. (Sharing, for me, has to start with relating, and I just can’t do that on the public Internet, these days. Not for everyone.)

LUXURY OF TIME. The space to create. These are things that a lot of people I’m reconnecting with, so far, this year have said they really wish they could have, and seem to think that I have, and therefore there is a sense of… How can I say to them, it’s not about having it. It’s about designing for it. What you want. That’s just not a popular viewpoint. But, so? It’s mine. And apparently, with the new people I’ve met and written about above… it’s theirs, too.

Proceed with caution. But don’t stop.

This story was underwritten by members of S P A C E. Join us.

Readings from S P A C E

A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Penang to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.

Wanderlust || Cameron Highlands

THE CALL OF THE ROAD. The urge to change something. But… What? Maybe it’s not the urge to change something, but just to take action. Any action. To just… go. In this freestyle conversation salon, hosted in the zany way that belongs only to DK, you’ll be able to enjoy new people, new thinking, and new kinds of conversations that have a center, and not sides. Expect the unexpected! Seasoned travelers and new voyagers are welcome. Tell us where you’ve been, how it’s been, where you’re going. Experience 4 short activities that we will do together, activities taken from Design Kompany’s handbook, ‘SELF,’ in which you will be able to also explore the inward journey. A short, sweet and once-off salon that doubles as a workshop, ‘Wanderlust’ is perfect for the seeking, curious, introspective, and (occasionally) extroverted traveler.

‘Wanderlust’ is a guided, prompt-led conversation and workshop in which you have the rare opportunity to process the very many feelings that crop up when we go, as and how, and where, when we wander. Up in the hills. Away from everything. Let’s gather in real life. Let’s converse. Let’s play? More at the registration page. Register here.

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.

Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur

MAKE A ZINE with just a handful of others, in this international atelier series, Atelier S P A C E.

ATELIERS. 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.

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. Each theme is based on what conversations emerged when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work to make a zine that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. What will happen, whom we’ll meet, who will join, and what zine we will then together produce is an open question. Let’s consider the possibilities. Let’s make a space.

Meet us there?

Order tickets for Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur here: https://atelier-space-kualalumpur.eventbrite.com

Questions? Contact us through the form at this page.

Interstitial space

ONCE UPON A TIME, a very smart person wrote a thing about my art. I guess that was the thing that threw me off. ‘Art.’ It was weird, because I thought I was an engineer-architect-journalist-designer. But I was making things that someone with a real eye, experience, and like I said, brains, didn’t say wasn’t art. LW. (Thanks, if you see this.) What happened was this. AM suggested it. ‘There’s this person. She’s looking at people’s art. She’s gonna write it all up, a review. You should do it.’

‘Says it’s for “artists”. Or whatever.’

‘You’re an artist. How many times… Just. Go.’

Unconvinced and commitment-averse, I sat on that idea. No, it’s not for me. I’m a designer. I’m working. I’m not… Painting canvases. I’m…

But I did go.

Unannounced, with all the best ‘art,’ or whatever, that I had made, ‘best’, in my opinion, up until that point. Stuff from Kyoto, New York, Seattle. Stuff from way before. Stuff I just hit ‘print’ on. Word stuff, drawing stuff, comic stuff, sharpie stuff. A lot of stuff. I couldn’t know then which stuff to keep, and which to get rid of, because I didn’t know the ‘what this is’ thing, not clearly, not yet. Maybe she could look at it.

Blind luck: there was a cancellation. Or a no-show. What a missed opportunity for that guy. ‘Dipika… Kohli?’ ‘Hi.’ Let’s see what you got. Were we mutually asking? I think so. I still remember the moment that felt, within that scene, which was also pivotal, to be the one that switched us on to one another. A certain piece. A certain exchange of looks. A certain ‘getting’ of one another, right there. When a piece makes a person feel a thing, a thing that the person already has an inkling about in nonverbal ways somewhere within, floating around, but just hasn’t… Tuned into… Then the piece is relating to them. That relating is the art.

Oh.

But that awareness would not come until 2017. Maybe a twinge came when I met MT? A glimmer… A hint. Yes, certainly there was an echo there. I think I even said ‘interstitial space.’ I think my plastic name tag was poking at a skewed angle. Talking geometry. Talking about space. But it was well received, and added to. That was why it was so exciting.

 

!*

THAT’S KIND OF how it (it?) started. It? Everything, really. Work became project-making. Maybe it was art? I read about things that kids in art schools in foreign countries told me to google. I looked up words I didn’t know and found, through deeper and deeper investigations in that shallower and shallower place that is the Net, little gems.

But the review thing. Some people want to get their work in museums, have shows, travel and be seen. I don’t care about being seen, really. I care about about the art itself. And yeah. The relating, to me, is art. A thing doesn’t mean anything if no one is there to receive it. Et cetera. So yup. Everything from that moment changed everything I do now. It wouldn’t have even happened had it not been for curator BMC. Also important. The people who shake things up, right? You see them when you look back, on the long path. In the West it’s all about ‘me me me’ and glorification of a person and equating ‘success’ with material wealth. Not always, but often, I feel, in the East when it’s really good, that’s because it’s a collaboration, the beautiful things… There’s less of the ‘look at me! Look what I did!’ vibe. Now I have to talk about George Webber. No, no. I’ll save that for the S P A C E crowd. Anyway. Changing from West to East (2014-present, I’m Asia-based) has meant appreciating the people who helped me make the things we’ve made, since arriving in Cambodia, to reset all the buttons.

WORDS. I watched. The review. Being written. ‘Hey, that’s kinda cool.’ Next few years, I read it over and over, until the penny dropped (that’s an Irishism for ‘it sank in’). This: she had called it, like tarot cards. This thing. That I like to do. Show the process. Include new voices. Close-ups. Relationships, aesthetics… that are there when people connect, convene in new ways… She looked through my zines, papers, (I always have papers), my oversized black portfolio I got because you needed that, right? To be legit? (No. You needed a concept to be legit. That would take time. Practice. Faltering. Bracing. Returning to the next place, sticking the foot out, going again, letting go of the people who said, ‘What are you doing? Get a job!’, and trusting the process.) What design taught me was to not get too complacent with the first or 17th idea. Push to the edge. Then, go past. Out there is the interstitial. Out there is S P A C E. A very specific kind of space. (Writing about it. A checklist. Sharing in small circles.)

WORK. I think she saw me trying, in my immature-yet way, to poke a hole in that materialistic veneer that is so supersaturated… So not-critiqued, so upheld as ‘that’s just how it is’ mumbo-jumbo status-quo. I was doing things to provoke some response, maybe. Drawing kooky Sharpie comics. Blogging a lot. Too much, really. I didn’t want to stop, it was like a habit, but then the blog got deleted kind of accidentally and it’s a long story, but it was so amazing because the feeling wasn’t one of sadness or loss, but of… Relief. Now we can finally start something new. Ten years of a blog is a long time. Ten years of trying to keep saying the same stuff in interesting ways is boring. I don’t even know what we were doing there. Yup. I am saying that. I am. Saying it all. Honestly. Nope. I’m not a super-duper-well-put together kind of a person. My friend IK said, ‘Twitter is for the smart people. Instagram is for the beautiful people.’ That was… Insightful. Spot on. What if you don’t hang out in those ways? You just want to, like, chill? I learned when switching from East Coast to West Coast in those United States of (North) America, one thing: you don’t have to wear a suit. Or nice shoes. Forget New York Black and ‘a Manhattan minute.’ You can go around in a hoodie and some old jeans. You could be dressed like that, slumped in the corner of Joe Bar Cafe, and you could be a millionaire, or a scruffy writer, same thing over there. Seattle. Which is where DK started up as an official thing. That would be 2004. Does history matter? Why am I telling you this? Och. Another Irishism.

SHAPE OF SPACE. BECAUSE IF THERE IS ONE THING I learned from the last couple of years that I took away and kept in my most intimate drawers for revisiting, it’s the idea of ‘provenance.’ How have you held a thing, where has it been, who used it, where did it get shared. This is a hard thing to measure. Impossible, really. That same hoodie scenario… I still have this hoodie. I wear it all over the place because the buses are cold and the trains are colder. Oh. I’m on the road. (This is part of the reason I am blogging so many paragraphs.) There are no obligations other than to host The Mirror, certain ateliers here and there, and to dream up the next thing. Whatever it is going to be, it has to have meaning. And I find meaning in a couple of things, things that  knows, but few others, because I shared those ideas when they were just starting to become visible… A sea of abstract ideas… And then, some emergence. I’m here, though, to listen, to field queries, and to show up for whatever comes to be. I am learning how, a little bit, once more. The road teaches you things. That’s what I’ve discovered, anyway. It’s important to share, sometimes, too, the little lessons. Blogging is  kind of ambient way of sharing. I was getting bored of it because I didn’t know… How to… Share better. I guess, though, I got a lot of practice. You write, and you write, and you write some more, and you get a wireless keyboard and then you type some books into your little devices and press ‘publish, make this a PDF, go!’, and say, ‘Do you want to read this?’ And wait and see if relating happens. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, it does.

NEXT. ATELIER S P A C E || MELAKA. Zinemaking. With new and different others, in real life. It’s happening, and I’m jazzed. Popping up at the weekend. This one is gonna be low-key. By invitation-only, no buzz, no noise. Very fitting, this style, for Melaka. I’ve been here more than a week, gorgeous architecture, world heritage site. Yet I’ve just been walking around, getting my bearings, trying to connect with the place before photographing it. So I’ve only taken one picture. That’s this one. I hope you like it. —DK

On the eve of something new

TOMORROW WE START. A new chapter for The Mirror, an online conversation that doubles as a workshop. This year is The Mirror‘s fourth.

In creating our invite list, I’ve been reconnecting with people around the world, these last few days, rekindling old ties and fostering a few new ones. Not everyone, of course. But a few. A few is good. A few is all you need.

We started it in 2014 as an experiment: if we could write with people we didn’t know, could that open space to a new kind of learning? What would happen? In the short compilation that came forth from that year, this was how we descibed the trepidation: ‘… 2014, a small group of people agreed to give me a shot at helping them make space to write more this year. It was unconventional and experimental, exactly what you have to be a little bit of a chance-taker to try, because I was making it all up from scratch. Thanks to their trust in us to create and hold space for writing, and especially for writing together, we were able to connect through words.’ Four years later, I’ve been musing on the changes, shifts. I love the beginning of a thing: a book, a new friendship, a fresh place. But now, I’m learning to appreciate the early-middle. Things brew. Become a little familiar. This is nice, very nice, too. We just finished our registration. Half our guests for The Mirror are returning participants. I am so excited! And I feel lucky, and bewildered, and delighted, as if the party of my life is about to start… In a way it is like a party, my favorite people from real life conversing in virtual rooms, over the coming weeks. The goal is interlink them, meaningfully, not trivially, with this more formed, but not fully formed (and thank goodness for that), version of The Mirror.

Like a four year-old, The Mirror now has grown up a little, and has a will of its own. Inquires, questions, accepts new input, want to discover, test the boundaries, and most of all, play. DK is all about that, if you know us personally or if you worked with us in the past. Let’s look at this in a new way? Let’s consider another perspective? Let’s not pin this down too soon, because we are still learning, still trying things, still letting it be what it wants to become. Along the way in any period of development, though, you see the heart of the thing that is emerging. With a child, their personality comes through clearer and stronger at four, right? They assert a little later, but they kind of have the general sketch and outline of the personality. We are there, with The Mirror, too. Wonderful things to look forward to, but also, extremely cool this evening as we are setting up for tomorrow, to notice the elegant part, that when you do pin down a creative idea it’s time to focus on giving it the kind of attention it needs to really flourish. At this stage, a wide mix of voices and stories, a gathering of people in virtual space, people from around the world who opt to apply and try something new, is what The Mirror is overjoyed about. I like the Englishism, ‘mates,’ as in, ‘I was with me mates.’ That’s the feeling. The Mirror can’t wait to play.

It’s almost time.

A new, more sophisticated, but also fun, what would it be without fun?, version is about to start. And guiding that, without knowing for sure how it will play out, but needing to trust and learning to trust that it will, is our work, here. Spacemaking. For new and different others to find remarkable connexion. We took a chance, we planted a seed. That thing germinated, it began to grow. It would have been so easy to not try, not even bother planting it. To make an excuse, to busy ourselves with ourselves. But the light and the water and the air, the things you used to cultivate that seed, were the beginning, as it flourished, the little buds weren’t just things to mind, but rather, they were part of a new section of yourself. They, slowly you realized it, they grew you.

Let’s go discover. Let’s go see.

Welcome to The Mirror.

Let’s play?

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.

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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.

S P A C E || Games afternoon

JOIN THIS FREE games afternoon, hosted by DK’s in-house chess enthusiast. Discover new people and the games at Narrow Marrow, in Penang, on Carnavon Street. We’ll be there from 2:30PM to 5PM, no need to register. Free.

Atelier S P A C E || Penang

Click for ticket registration page.

ARE YOU INTERESTED in publishing? How about real life, and conversations that have a center, go places, and involve a wide mix of perspectives? If yes, this is for you.

Make an 8-page zine with us, and join the global series Atelier S P A C E.

The curious, as well as writers, artists, designers, editors, illustrators, photographers and others who make 2D works are invited to take part in Atelier S P A C E.

DK is temporarily camped out in Penang, and will host this popup atelier at the space pictured, and other venues. The idea is to mix it up: DK want to gather new and different othera whose paths might not have crossed, for uncertainty, for the chance encounter to *happen.*

New thinking, new perspectives. These lead to breakthroughs, innovations, and space for flexing the muscles of human imagination. No ‘movie and chill’ excusemaking here. We will get to work.

It works like this. On the first day, at a kickoff reception, you’ll be part of an informal conversational salon at our popup atelier space (pictured). You will be welcomed and given a comfortable, easy selection of conversation-starting prompts. The idea is to get us all talking together, in new ways, and avoid boring smalltalk. From there, as a group, we will choose a theme for the focus of the zine. Over the next few days, (a full programme to be shared with registered guests), you will work independently as well as with 1-2 others to collaborate. From what emerges, we will together design the final layout for the 8-page zine.

Check out some examples. The zines S P A C E || Battambang and S P A C E || Singapore, currently at Gerak Budaya Bookshop.

Inspired by nonlinear thinkers past and present, this atelier programme invites you to expect the unexpected, from others, and also, from yourself. It’s hosted by DK’s creative director, Dipika Kohli, who makes spaces for people to discover more about one another through loose, prompt-led dialogues that often will lead to remarkable connexion. After founding DK and writing her own narratives in first-person accounts, she got curious about how to make ways for people to discover themes and stories layered within the everyday usual spaces and discover the new. Since 2014 she has been hosting salons and ateliers, like Choices at The 1961 in Siem Reap, Self in Palo Alto, Flow at Foo Cafe in Malmoe, and Beauty in Phnom Penh. Before relocating to Asia, she hosted a salon, Gather, in Seattle, and an atelier, The State of Publishing, in Durham NC. Google ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’ and TEDx to watch her philosophize about the urgency of now. In keeping with that framing, this atelier is a once-off occasion.

Since mid-September we have been on the road hosting Atelier S P A C E.

This is what it is: An on-the-road journey that discovers people, places, and stories on the fly, packing them into short zines one-to-two months at a time. What we are interested in doing with you is engaging people in real-life conversation, in the form of salons, and also, in publishing some of those snippets (the best of, developed and refined, in further conversations) in a zine.

Scouting venues and making friends

PART OF THE PROJECT OF ATELIER S P A C E is, when I forget to be concerned about Programme design and making sure all the pieces are in the right order is letting things just happen.

It has been not quite two weeks since DK shifted from Singapore to scope the scene here in Penang. But already I feel like it’s been, in many ways, like meeting someone you’ve always known in a way but haven’t fully seen.

Like a pen pal. Or a distant cousin.

There are overlays that you can’t deny, a cultural identity that’s shared in a very tangential way, for me, here by the side streets of a warm and seaside town. I love this village feeling, it reminds me of Skibbereen, and very shortly I think I will feel ready to start sharing out loud and not just blogging into the obscure about Atelier S P A C E || Penang. That’s here.

Meantime it is just now posted, details and tickets and everything, to Eventbrite.

Making S P A C E || Penang

THINGS ARE GETTING going here in Penang for Atelier S P A C E || Penang. Like in Singapore and in Battambang before that, the idea is to get people talking together and learn new things. Maybe about each other, their own selves, or, as in the case here yesterday throughout the day, philosophy. Making S P A C E for remarkable connexion, we are just settling in to begin the discovery, meantime some zines are at this weekend’s Georgetown Literary Festival. Special thanks to the festival for including S P A C E. See you there.

Printed Matters || Atelier S P A C E pre-event

PRINTED MATTERS is a conversation. About printed matters. And about matters of printing. Playfulness is a prerequisite but this is for word-nerds, print-nerds, design-and-arts-and-crafts-nerds.

Atelier S P A C E is a zine-makery on-the-move, a global conversation about local voices, local stories. People getting together, sharing things, and creating something special, to them, for them, and by them. In a curated open circle.

Intrigued? Come join this pre-event, where we explore printed media and other high-octane cultural mumbo-jumbo in A Spaice’s hallmark playful, casual space-setting.

Register here.