Discovering, sourcing, planning, sharing, connecting, interconnecting and framing. That’s what it is. To start.
Getting the team together. Organizing the pages without overthinking or over designing.
Leaving room for stuff to develop, other stuff to emerge. Being okay with things taking time. Being cool with letting go of what doesn’t fit, in the collection. Bricolage and collage being my ‘thing,’ along with relational art and the aesthetics around that, which academics write about (thank y0u) but which I, personally, design moments in which me, and hopefully others who also enjoy these things, can experience the ‘magic moment.’
AHEAD. New things, ahead. Grateful for the learning, and the reconsiderations of old things. For the replies to the notes I’ve been sending here and there around the world, and calls that I’m getting to make and enjoy relaxing into, too. For the responses to the poetry, for the notes and the critiques to the Winter 2018-9 collection’s editorial calendar. For the trust. For showing up. For the new rekindlings, deepening of some of what had begun, on my last trips here, and also, for the continued happening-upon new and different others that lands me here, time and time again, in S P A C E. Today was cool. It’s not over yet, but it’s been really neat. Booked tickets. Firmed up plans for the next stops. [To the wonderful urban planner, C, whom I just met today–hey! That was one hell of a conversation and very much needed. My questions again: how do we design and architect social spaces that ‘feel great’, but also, help people discover ways to think crticically and make choices that let them live better? What does a full city contain that an underdeveloped one doesn’t? What should be doing, as people who design spaces, and whose responsible for us ‘being happy’ and ‘living such as to become our best selves?’ Used to nerd about about these topics at walkable communities conferences Stateside and the time in Seattle interviewing loads and loads of engineers, city officials, and yeah, urban planners. The podcast I mentioned, is here. So yeah. Looks like Tuesdays are turning into S P A C E-y ones. Shall I make another thing? I can. I’m thinking maybe just two or three people now. It’s tiring, sometimes, to keep at it. But yeah. Sometimes you fall into the moment and it catches you by surprise. If you wanna talk about art, design, architecture, the shape of space, poetics, cities, and what gives the fabric of meaning to them, hey. I’m all in. Just hit me up.) To A and K: safe journeys. To A and R: SYS. And yeah. For anyone wondering what’s going on behind the scenes, here is where to join the conversation.]
LOOKING BACK, it must have been at the conversation salon ‘The State of Publishing’ that I got the first inkling of what the thing is that today I call S P A C E. In which new and different others gather for a unique, once-off, real-life moment for remarkable connexion.
This is me, at that event:
SO MUCH happened there. So many old ties, crisscrossing with new ones. There had been a decade interval since the time I was in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC, for those who are not familiar). I had been there for university and my first jobs, including freelance work in photography and illustration, back in the 90s. So I of course had to invite some of the editors I knew from those days, including the people behind what was then the cool creative nonfiction-style not-a-magazine, and not-a-newspaper that was called the Urban Hiker. UH had run my first-ever first-person story, ‘Midmorning Lakeshimmer,’ which had been about sitting lakeside in Udaipur, Rajasthan, enjoying, guess what, a conversation. With a fellow passerby. The content of that conversation, and the publication in which it ran, set in motion, I think, to me, the notion that we can tell our first-person true stories, in the ways we like, if we just make a space to publish them. It was with great admiration that I continued to follow UH, until I read somewhere from the other side of the country, or perhaps when I was abroad in Ireland, prior to that, that it folded. Well, then. But the spirit of writing, conversing, connecting, and sharing: that was glittery. And that’s what I think I am carrying forward, here, in my own way, with the zines and salons in S P A C E programmes near, far, and online.
More to say about these ideas, about a hat tip to the past salons and of course, to the people who came, who shared, and who, in the end, made the magic moments happen. It’s all about showing up; showing up is Art, to me, and making the space for new and different others to convene in remarkable ways is what I’m up to here, at DK. Come a long way since freelancing for the then Spectator in Raleigh, I’d say. But then again, I remember walking into that office, asking what’s up, and getting a commission, on the spot. Not bad. Same thing happened over the years, repeating, telling me and confirming for me that yes, people want to hear about others, read about places, discover through the simple act of sharing what it is to go beyond the edges, and see what gems one might discover there. Thinking about these things, considering the tracks since I was back in NC, one of my many homes.
Another pic from State of Publishing:
OF COURSE IT IS IMPERATIVE that we have a strong sense of self before we can really engage in the kind of peaceful dialogue that will help all of us quell the ills of the world, what with its many division-making tendencies. Too this or too that, you’re relegated to too ‘out.’ You stay in the margins long enough and you discover other people are there, too. That’s how it happened, really. That’s how DK got going. We were wacky. We were curious. We were open. We were not buying into the program. We wanted new things, but didn’t know where to find them, or how they would change us, or why we felt compelled to go further into the ‘out there.’ The unknown. The not-yet-knowable. The uncertain, the different, the new. In the end, it’s because of the chance encounter with that one guest at SoP that led to the thought that it was no longer interesting for me to be in North Carolina, that I had things to do, somewhere else, wherever ‘somewhere else’ might be. I knew, after I put it down, and spent 9 hours writing a blog post that got circulated a little (and accidentally deleted when, well, it’s a long story, has to do with not making backups, something that people who aren’t as organized as they wish they could be have a tendency to fail to do), and yea, it was that time, and the people I met, and the things we said, and the books that got recommended, and the reading of those books, that led to new things.
Philosophy, I read recently, is the work to examine questions that will allow us to live more pleasurably. As I write from my very last night on the long, twelve-week stretch of being still for the ‘slow moment’ in northern Finland, I’m thinking about that. I’m thiningabout the chance encounters and the conversations and the people and what we made together. I’m curious about what will come of this, in my own thinking, and the style that will become what it will, as ar result of all the influences of being here. I remember a 17 year-old girl walking, at sunset, letting me stop and say hello, letting me say, ‘Thank you for participating in that workshop we did, the other day. It was nice to meet you.’ Letting me talk a little more about my feelings about being here, in a rural place, and sharing her own ideas, too. Then meeting her mother. Meeting a woman whose poise and patience were both of the highest level I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of leaders in my life, and I saw that she was of that kind of upper crust calibre, and I saw that she did that work of mothering with the kind of gentle hand that we need to see in leadership today, in every walk of life. Because the mothers of the world know how to be tender. How to listen, with love, how to give of our affection. We aren’t expecting anything, when we’re mothering at our best. We just do. We just be. That’s the lesson I’ve learned, too, from being here, in Finland.
To the journeys, then. The new, the near, the now, and the next.
IN A PRETTY FASCINATING kind of collage and layering, two things I am discovering are my ‘thing’ while I have 12 whole weeks to sit around and make zines and shoot the breeze whilst listening to the sound of, well, breeze–in aspen, in birch—I am doing something new. A podcast. I know that some people have been telling me that I should do this, for some time now. I know. I heard you. I just… don’t like the idea of… voice. That said, why then, have I recorded my voice over the years, starting from microcasette tapes on that world tour that led to the short film, ‘The India Tapes,’ which some people I knew well in Seattle got to see when it screened at the Tasveer short film festival in that city some time ago. A decade back? Where does the time go? Okay, well, that is a good segue to the next bit.
Some of the time when I am writing I get all philosophical and esoteric. I ‘lose my audience.’ A lot of people tell me that, too. But then, they listen to my voice recordings, and they’re like, ‘Are you, um. High?’ ‘NO!’
‘Art, to me, is conversation. A very particular kind… the kind that has a certain quality…. the quality of S P A C E.’
OF COURSE NOT. It’s just that when the jam is good, I love a great conversation. I’m super into it, when there is a high quality of S P A C E, that is, and only then, really… the back-and-forth of it, the improvisation, the silences, the whole thing. I love it. It’s like… my favorite thing, ever. I write in this style because this is how I talk. I know. It’s not straightforward. It’s not direct. It’s not even linear, for feck’s sake. It’s just what it is. And it’s me. Totally, honestly, raw, unedited. These things are very underworked, these blog posts, and now… the podcasting… I’m not going to promise a lot with the audio files. Not because it’s hard to make them: I’m discovering that with Zoom, QuickTime and a couple of friends in other parts of the world to help me push the sound clips together, plus a couple of websites with sweet sound effects (I was going to say ‘fx,’ but I’m not really that trendy), well—it’s easy. Podcasting with Soundcloud is super easy. I don’t have the equipment you would want to have if you were pro, but that’s okay. I’ve never been a big fan of expensive equipment. In fact, everything I make these days is based on what falls to hand. In bricolage style. The stories that I write now (there’s some new stuff coming together for the new zines, one of which launches at Oulu Arts Night on 16 August, and stuff, well, those as well as the visuals come into shape not because I have this predetermined idea of ‘what I’m going to do,’ but because, in the process of looking around and bumping into things, people, materials, magazines, stuff just falls into place, and makes a picture. Not a picture, necessarily, like a photograph, though I do have those now, because of the camera and the ‘Slow Moment’ photo journaling workshop that I’ve been hosting online since the start of June, but other kinds of pictures. Conceptaully, imagine that a conversation is captured and frozen into a moment. Then you spool that moment out. You maybe write some kind of short fiction piece. Or you actually record it and edit it into a sound file. Or make a short video and share it at a festival. Well. There are so many things you can do when you have the essence of the moment and you are able to see the art in it. Not easy, to see things. That’s part of what I talked about with some of the new guests in ‘Slow Moment’, in June, over email and forum-salon conversation spaces. Well, mostly email. Occasionally, a phone call. I am in Scandinavia now so I have so much wifi and since it’s way up here by the Arctic Circle, I also have tons of brightness and tend to be awake 23 out of the 24 hours of the day now. Which renders the time differences and timezones irrelevant.
This is good.
This is leading to some very important and unique moments of catching-up. And going back to the people who most intrigued, or left impressions, or seem to have been on their way to interesting places, back when I met them.
‘It’s the thread that makes the necklace’
I’M EVEN GOING back to some of ht many, many hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written in the past and doing that good thing that all writers must: rewriting. Thank you, Dropbox, for holding all this stuff in your digital vault. I’m ready to dump most of these archives, though. Keep only… the highlights. Because short and sweet is another thing I like. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Zines let me do that. So the zine form—8 pages, nothing more—is a good way to repack some of what I’ve written (while also giving it a little bit of a tweak because when you are younger and writing and when you’ve written much, much more and are writing, you are also able to see the thread, the thread!…. and it’s the thread, after all, that makes the necklace.
Pearls on a string. Here we go. Now it’s not so much about the discovering of the new pearls to add to this thread, as it is feeling like I’ve found what my set is, already, and have closed the loop, and am now going back through the circle, saying ‘hi’ to the many lovely gems of people and places and conversations and… artistic moments… that I’ve been lucky enough to collect. And sharing these new learnings and reopening those stories, but only selectively. Only in S P A C E. To the journeys, the new, the near and the next.
Next in S P A C E, today’s prompt, for ‘Slow Moment.’
Are you wondering where I am? It’s cool to contact me—I’m not that hard to reach. Email me, maybe? Here’s a form.
5.56PM. TODAY I AM GOING THROUGH THE DIP. The one that they tell you is important to ‘push through,’ as my favorite guru-watching, Headspace-listening friends and colleagues like to tell me, when I am not wanting to hear it, when I am not-wanting-to-hear-it and wanting to just sit and think, alone, quietly, all day. With internet. Because with internet you can write and type and skype and talk and chat and feel like something is happening. Something is moving. That if you keep on pulling the loom and knitting in yarns and patches and bits and so on, there will become, eventually, magically, a pattern. A tapestry. A thing that is the beautiful thing. Because of the labor, the labor, the labor, the WORK. Where is all this coming from? Too much internet. Toooooooo much.
2.45PM. All morning I was thinking about how to do it. Write to everyone I have contacted so far in London and tell them that, yes, after all this time, after more than a year of some of the guests there bearing with me, trusting me that yes, this WILL happen, it is starting to do its thing. It is starting to happen. It is. It really, really is. Magic moments, making spaces, holding the rooms for dialogue to happen, in the salons and roundtables and workshops in cafes and libraries and parks and light bars that don’t press you to buy things if you just want to engage in esoteric conversation, all of those things are where I start to notice things. The good stuff, for example. The good magical place where we can connect, eye to eye and, let’s be really open here, if we may, and talk about it: heart to heart. Internet is missing something. It is. You know that, though, right? That it is? It’s missing the spark that makes us human beings. I am seriously tired today from writing so much email and wondering if anyone cares as much as I do about the magic moments that happen in the space framed by the bounded box, held with care. When 16 vectors converge for one MOMENT in the space of time, when we can design for that, when we can angle it so that it WILL happen, will it matter to anyone else besides me? And yes, the very good people who have said ‘YES’ to ‘N’ so far. (41/482 so far). There are more things to say but those are for sharing privately, with the 41 people, because not everything that is good is for public consumption, and sometimes the very best of the good stuff happens when it is by design meant to be shared with only a very small set of people, a very tiny scale of a few. In our case, 16 per city. SixteenN. Sixteen x Sixteen, for the magic set of 256 in the whole wide world. The colors. The boxes. The spaces. The making of space. The holding of it. None of this would be happening if people weren’t saying yes. *thank you* *you know who you are* *to be continued* We want to connect. To engage. To do this is human. Isn’t it?
NOW. Today I’m cleaning my new flat of its clutter. Putting all the right papers in their containers, sensing the story that is the ultimate centroid of my life work: making space for connections between people who don’t know one another; discovery through serendipity and chance; growth through these kinds of experiences that, while ultimately extremely basic (who are you? let’s talk?), are so very hard to find in our fragmented world of illusions, spectacles, and yes, if I sound jaded, I am. Today I reconnected with everyone to whom I’ve ever sent an invite for ‘N’ in London. Tomorrow I start hitting the internet again to keep querying. More than 485 invitations for ‘N’ events in four cities so far, yeesh. But last week I found renewed enthusiasm for this when I got off a skype with #28327a, who was the first to join ‘N,’ like a year ago. It was his idea to reframe ‘N’ as a challenge, and he said it: ‘Don’t wait for better options! Be a bold human being and pick a date and show up!’ And we were off, then, taking all of this much more seriously. Lamenting, together, the decline in opportunities to engage, connect, share, and discover. New and different others. new ways of thinking, new people. Curiosity! Oi. If art is all there is that can save us, isn’t curiosity its prerequisite? Is there hope for art, for newness, for intrigue, the universal quest to ask, ‘What is this, and let me just see now…’? I’m looking for the right people, so it’s taken some time, and I still have a month, so here we go. Here we go, here we go, here we go.
Care to comment?
PS They are playing some seriously nice violin-y stuff today here. I am feeling all on a roll.