ZINES. Real life. Conversations. Making space for the stories of us, where we are, with the people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, right where we are. New learning, new thinking, new perspectives, and a. creative kick from the atelier that is Atelier S P A C E. Making ‘rooms’ for dialogue and perspective-making insight since 1994, more or less, but officially as a zinemaking atelier since 2017 in Battambang, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Helsinki, Oulu, and Phnom Penh. This event is part of a series, Atelier S P A C E | India. We’ll choose the date, time, and place on a Doodle poll. To start, request details through the form below. More from there.
ZINES. Real life. Conversations. Making space for the stories of us, where we are, with the people whose paths we might not have otherwise crossed, right where we are. New learning, new thinking, new perspectives, and a. creative kick from the atelier that is Atelier S P A C E. Making ‘rooms’ for dialogue and perspective-making insight since 1994, more or less, but officially as a zinemaking atelier since 2017 in Battambang, Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Helsinki, Oulu, and Phnom Penh. This event is part of a series, Atelier S P A C E | Lithuania. Free for members of S P A C E. We’ll choose the date, time, and place on a Doodle poll. To start, request details through the form below. More from there.
Request more info…
An online journaling x photography workshop-salon
S L O W M O M E N T
By invitation only
W E L C O M E
WHAT THIS IS. ‘Slow Moment’ is a 12-week online programme that’s designed for writers, photographers and people who practice slowing in all its many, many forms. The idea started when we hosted ‘The Mirror‘, in which one prompt was ‘Slow Moment,’ and the responses that came were so fantastic that it led me to dedicate an entire 12-week block to just this subject. We talked about family, the woods, walking. Hikes, oceans, and being on our own. We talked about wanting to go places, going there, and what happened when we did. Relationships. Journeys. Endings, and new starts. Now we’re offering the ‘Slow Moment’ programme to just 4 people for the start of 2019—and by invitation, only.
The Mirror 2018 welcomed guests in online forum-spaces from around the world.
WHY ‘SLOW MOMENT.’ SLOW MOMENTS let us remember what our story is. To ourselves, about ourselves, but also, who we are in relation to others. (And in an existential way, to the cosmos. But that’s a different universe of conversation). For many taking part in DK’s online salon-workshops, we’re just talking together in these online circles because it gives us a place to share. Meaningfully. Not trivially. I’m pulling ‘meaningfully, not trivially’ from R. Pirsig‘s book, Lila, which is the sequel to a cult classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which asks what Quality even is, and, by extension, how to find it. Some philosophy is to be expected, in ‘Slow Moment,’ for sure. You can pontificate: we’ll listen. We’re that kind of a group.
ABOUT S P A C E. DK have been making S P A C E salons in real life for a while now, and the goal is to create a cozy space where people who don’t know one another can simply be together, and talk if they want, or not-talk if they feel inclined that way, and simply be who they want to be, which I hope, in S P A C E, is who they really are. So many other facades are out. So many guards are up. In the real world,and in the social media world, too. But who are we really? When DK connect with people in S P A C E, we’re talking directly to them, their real selves, without all the layers. That’s a privilege and a responsibility. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity. To learn something about one another, and at the same time, about ourselves.
HOW TO JOIN. Participation in ‘Slow Moment’ is by invitation only. If you’ve been invited to apply, this is where to go. Tell us why you’re curious about this, and what you hope to get from the conversation. Show us that you are familiar with DK’s work and philosophy of bringing people together for remarkable connexion. Just 4 spots. [Unsolicited applications will not be read.]
THIS POST is for N.
N. Cool. I left you a note. I hope you get that, and this. I’ll see you in Riga, maybe. (One hundred percent serious).
I have to hold myself back from going into advice-giving mode, but I can’t help but write that thing the way I wrote it, and also, this:
There are good people running about in the world also asking questions, as you are. Don’t worry: we’ll find some of us, some of each other eventually, and then it won’t seem so daunting and crazy and big and hard. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed.
You left a great impression on me: thanks for that.
Lately I’m finding a string of chance encounters with young women who are reminding me of my earlier goal to put together a body of work designed to help teens, mostly, figure themselves out… or rather… to begin to frame the space that lets you discover yourself fully and completely and not quit in the middle because of some pressures to conform to some things that when you really think about it (as I see you are) really run counter to that. We are taught to be something, a certain way, a certain style, without investigating our way towards something… that we don’t even know what it is yet. Letting the journey come towards us… I remember my friend P in Durham NC saying to me that there’s a Native American tradition that says when a woman turns forty she chooses a name for herself…
Will do more thinking about what we said when I take the time this week to get away from ‘it all’. Or, wait. Maybe just not-think for a spell…
To the journeys, the new, the near and the next. See you in the up.
In search of meaning
E X P L O R I N G _ T H E _ A R T
Times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts are what we write and share about in S P A C E. Works are creative nonfiction short stories, co-created with members of Design Kompany’s team both in Phnom Penh and in the places where we are going to discover new and different voices ‘out there,’ in the field..
Where are the new and unusual perspectives, hiterto underreported or cast aside as ‘ethnic?’ Let’s go find them. Let’s write them, share them, co-create them. In S P A C E Meet us there? Introductory offer: subscribe for just $4/week.
S P A C E posts every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. When. you subscribe, you’ll get it every week by email, plus these exclusive PDF zines, too. Themes change but the idea is that we get closer to the study of what it means to look, listen, discover, hear what we are able to piece together when we make a space for quieting, and noticing, both one another, and ourselves.
Into the Quiet
S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘ The Book of Slow Moment’
S P A C E | Oulu, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’
Finding the stillness.
18 December, 2018
S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence’
Living in Cambodia: then and now.
1 January, 2019
S P A C E | Tampere, ‘Miia’
8 January, 2019
S P A C E | Kyoto, ‘One Moment Cafe’
Alexis Jokela’s follow-up story, set in Tampere, to Jokela’s July piece, ‘A Summer Love Story’
15 January, 2019
S P A C E | Helsinki, ‘Coat Check’
22 January, 2019
S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’
A. Spaice goes to Helsinki to discover 16 random strangers and talk to them, at a once-off conversation salon on the theme, NEUROSIS. Here’s what happened.
5 February, 2019
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Arctic Circle”
12 February, 2019
S P A C E | Berlin, ‘Strange Geometries’
A jaunt to Lapland, unplanned and spontaneous, lands a pair of wanderers at the gateway of an unmistakably enchanted forest. Inspired by H. C. Andersen’s description in The Snow Queen of ‘Finnmark’.
19 February, 2019
S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’
26 February, 2019
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
What makes something beautiful? Looking with a microscope for ‘the remarkable’ in a money-obsessed island.
Calls for submission will be made through S P A C E. Subscribe to get the details.
‘THAT IS EPISTEMOLOGY.’
‘Epistemology.’ [The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.]
‘Do you know what that is, DK?’
‘Well we should have coffee sometime. What you’re saying is very interesting. I’d like to continue.’
‘Well. I’m not doing coffee dates these days. I get tired of all the admin that comes with setting them up and moving them around. I like hosting stuff where you just combine everybody, now. Or trying to get a really intriguing discussion going, like a salon. Did that in India, a six-part series, talking about modernity and change in Sikkim… Beautiful place, have you been? Hm? Oh, Gangtok. Really great. Oh! I also really liked taking about the creative process in a thing called ‘MAKE.’ What? Yeah. I do. I really do. I like titling things. Concept art is that, really. You set it all up before hand and the art happens when it starts… you let it just play.’
‘But yeah. Salons. Fun. Plus, placing people together in a highly designed space, S P A C E, I call it now, is, um, waaaay more interesting to me. To share and connect across well, chords of a circle, in a way. Hm? Chords? Sure, I can explain. Like this, wait. Let me show you.’
[Takes out sketchbook and a black pen. Draw this:]
‘See? Isn’t that more interesting, now, than just one li’l ol’ chord, on its own?… I really prefer the relational aesthetics, to just this thing. I kinda talk about it a lot more on my website. But yeah. Chords. Remember geometry in tenth grade? Wait, here. Where’s my red pen… Oh, there. Okay, I’m ready:’
[Nervously] ‘Uhhh… Well I was thinking just coffee.’
‘Coffee dates with me tend to go on for two or four hours. Not even kidding. And with some people, 10 hours. And….’ [Smiling] ‘… once, for like, twenty days. Two years ago? That was fabulous, rare, beautiful, artful, insight-making, maturifying, two years on… even better. And we’re still talking. We talk like hell. It’s weird. I love it. But yeah. And I’m trying to get a new venture started, right now. A magazine called S P A C E. So, no? Besides, we just met.’
[Hurt] ‘But… but… I don’t get to have conversations like this ! You’re making me think. About things. In new ways. I can’t talk like this with my best friend, or my wife, or my colleagues. I really want more of this… Can we? Aren’t I just amazing? Besides, I’d like to get to know you better. Personally.’
‘Best thing to do is join one of our online programmes, ‘Philosophy of the Moment Section B’ starts soon, or come to one of our events. Or join the mailing list to see what’s going on. It’s all kinds of conversations like this. These are the active spaces. Meet me and everybody.”
‘Um. Well I only have a little time. So I could meet for coffee.’
[Ad-lib. Repeating the part about events and mailing lists. Elaborates on why. Goes into depth about the meaning of social spacemaking] ‘…. whatever remains after a set of ‘get to know you’ seasons, I like to make something. With them. S P A C E is the thing I’m interested in. S P A C E quests S P A C E…’ [Smiling]
‘Well. That sounds hard and time-consuming.‘
[Stubbornly] ‘Nothing worth doing should be an instant gratification. If quality is important, I mean. To me. To me, it’s like this: Art. Takes. Time.’
‘Are your parents Marxists?’
This is part of a series, 100 conversations. Underwritten by members of S P A C E.
IN A STRANGE, curious, wonderful arrangement of things related to times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts that belong to, well, S P A C E, I’m having a moment. A moment of learning. Of wild-eyed awareness of what it is we do. In S P A C E. Not because I haven’t done things here before that I feel have merit, but because I wasn’t able to pack it into a short, concise, easy-to-relate-to, and most importantly, fast, little sentence. A ‘blurb,’ if you will. A ‘marketing blurb,’ ugh, cringe, bleh. And yet. You have to. Be relatable. If you want to be related to. Only in recent weeks, practicing by doing this, more and more, the making of space in which new and different others can find remarkable connexion, sure, in the salons and workshops and ateliers and popups and even now, in the co-created works we are publishing soon in miniature printed zines, too, it’s happening. The awareness of the what, after so many years of practicing how, and theorizing about why. ‘What’ has been important, of course, in the big way it always is. But when people asked me, ‘What is this, DK?,’ I wanted to run. To Sweden, to hide on a boat, say. Or bury myself into books. (Described both experiences in Breakfast in Cambodia). But I have to answer the question now. It’s taken a while, but I know how, now. About the ‘what is it’ thing. I know. Ask me? Here’s a form.
JOHANNES KEPLER was a tortured mystic, they say, but was interested in seeing if he could find ‘the harmony of the spheres.’ Platonic solids, this and that, but there’s more. I’ll say more later, but for now, just this video. More about Kepler, next.
LATER ON TODAY. The first conversation in S P A C E that’s actually in the cloud. A conference call. Connecting members. Across distance, and from spots of time that are disparate, for me. We met in 2011(?), (when was it, S.?) at a bar called James Joyce, for example. Or we met at a place that had a lot of people on laptops and not-talking so we started talking-talking because why not make that happen instead of becoming a zombie. ‘Play a game of cards with us?’ ‘Okay, yes.’ Thanks, MB, for being part of this long journey.
S P A C E | The Book of New Things. It’s not exactly a planning meeting, but you might call it that if you were a planny-planny type, which, believe me, is not my usual nature, but it is, kind of, also. Sometimes you get that side of me that’s like, ‘Right. We have the design intent. That’s 90% of the work, ladies and gentlemen. Now, let’s get crackin’ on this thing before we lose interest, scope creep sets in, someone has a personal crisis and drops out, or expectations get fuzzy and no one knows what the hell the thing is about anymore. Momentum, you could say.’
Which reminds me of this…
A building of momentum: the product of velocity and a critical mass
Why make this kind of S P A C E? Well, for one, it’s terribly difficult to host the online workshops now. It’s just too much. Email is work. People hate it. People are busy. No one has time. I’ve heard all the excuses, and heard them again. A year goes by. ‘Not this time, DK!’ Another year. ‘I’m sorry ! I’m just really busy right now with my own things.’ Then, fair enough. Let me, also, become busy with my own things. Let me deepen the connections that are already blooming. Then, let me focus on tending these small and fragile things–relationships–while introducing the ideal into the new equation… the ideal being quality and authentic and genuine connexion. Human connexion, built over time. This is not an ordinary group of people. And this is not an open invitation. You have to have known me for 2+ years now, for this set. It’s crazy, saying that. (With one extraordinary exception: Stacia Yearwood, of PaperPassages and IHopeThisMessageFindsYouWell. Of course. Because she is an immaculate poet. Need beautiful words to express an emotion? Hire this extraordinary talent.) Maybe we’ll see S tonight. S gave me a great poem. And inspired the Epicurus-moment that we’ll be building in 2019, in S P A C E, which will take to the road. (BH, are you reading? BH, you should most certainly be part of this cookie. Seriously.)
It’s like having the kind of party that I most enjoy: gathering the people whose work I admire, whose conversations have inspired me, and whose art is good, for a brief intersection of paths and closing off of other channels so as to focus, notice, and be right here now. So far, three of us have confirmed being there. That means showing up at weird hours so that an international call can work; from Australia to the western edge of N. America, invitees to this poll were going to either say ‘yes’ to the showing up to the call, not knowing what at all might happen, or say ‘no, thanks.’ But since we’re talking about people in S P A C E, and not just regular people I happened to run into yesterday or something, not that that’s bad, I quite like that, too, and ZM and I’d met the day before one of our salons, in London, that was pretty cool, and TE, too, who said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow? I’ll guest list you for my show’ which was by far one of the top 5 I’ve been to (following Sun Ra Arkestra back in Durham NC when they came through, OMG, and a couple others I can’t say out loud here because, they’re personal, and I care about them, and I don’t like oversharing) but I’m getting sidetracked–
–Back on track, the thing is this. It’s different. When you know someone. Trust is there. I’m inviting people only whom I’ve been in close conversations with throughout the last six months or more, mostly in the online spaces of S P A C E forums. ‘Slow Moment,’ for example–and expanding that out into a call in thirty minutes is the idea here. So esoteric. So abstract. So WTF. But so? I’m doing this because these are the people who are like, ‘Okay. What time?’
90% of it is showing up. Since we’ve built relationships and had quality connexion and trust and many, many dates together thinking, writing, conversing, talking, learning, sharing, showing up for each other, and discovering more about all that intrigues us, outside of the normal bounds of ‘this is what we do for work, this is what we do outside of work, this is what I studied’ blah blah who cares what do you think about multiple universes, there, good chap, or have you ever seen the northern lights? That Phish song–always comes to mind–when I think about the northern lights. But the new things, the Book of New Things, is deep influenced by the recent trip up to the northern part of Finland, up, past the Arctic Circle, where, if you hold your breath and hope, you might get a glimpse of them. And yeah, if your eyes are closed, too…
Comments are open. But just for a bit.
New photography by Dipika Kohli, in mostly black and white. All from the Atelier S P A C E series in Finland, and inspired by the amazing guests in DK’s concurrent online programme, ‘Slow Moment.’
That twelve-week sequence designed for people to connect and converge in S P A C E was about: slowing down to ‘see’, journal, note, and ‘be.’ Says DK: ‘How do you do that? Just start.’ Cover photo styled by artist Kathelijne Adriaensen. // DK 2018
PHOTOGRAPHY. DK’s creative director Dipika Kohli began her freelance career in 1998 with a gig for the then Raleigh newspaper, Spectator Magazine. The conversation with editor Stephen Wissink on that first popping in led to a yearlong photography assignment to capture restauranteurs’ best arrangements of plates of salad, desserts, light entrees, and fancy drinks. From there, Dipika continued to take photographs, but began to focus more and more on architectures, and cities. The urban landscape was always her favorite. Two grants from the Japan Foundation had led, in the 1990s, to a 500-picture series, ‘Japanese Lines’. Curating large collections of snippets of 3″x3″ prints, she exhibited these at the N. C. Japan Center. She co-founded DK in 2006 in Seattle, after working as a staff editor and sometime-photographer for the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Special thanks: Kathelijne Adriaensen for artistic inspiration and Benjamin Nwaneampeh for the fun interview we got to do with him for ‘Don’t Just Document, Make Art’, the S P A C E podcast conversation about photography..
CAN THE INTERNET bring us towards true connection? How do we get there? Listen to find out.
DK’s Dipika Kohli and Mae Rosukhon, a Sydney- and Bangkok-based member of our inner circle of S P A C E, are talking together about ‘the internet.’ Quality of life, health and relationships that are built on trust: these are the things. ‘It’s social isolation that really gets people down, especially in the later years of life,’ says Rosukhon, who has a background in government and health. Are the stream of constant notifications getting in our way of building real trust?
‘In this contemporary world and searching for the new, new experiences, new contacts… there’s an upside and a downside, right? [But] the trust between your friends, it’s that solid foundation that will always take you through and that’s got strong substance underneath.’ –Mae Rosukhon.
Read about Mae’s recent thoughts on life, meaning, and connection at this intriguing article she wrote, by hand, about death.
Images: from the series ‘Distracte’ by Dipika Kohli
AT A CAFE. In between meetings. Next to me there are two people in good conversation, in English, but occasionally Japanese. This is my other language. I am resisting, it is hard, the urge to say something to them. I have this weird and occasionally surprising knack for chatting up strangers and somehow, making solid acquaintanceships in a very compact space of time. Why this is probably has everything to do with the charm of my father, which I think has a lot to do with finding the silliness in the everyday moment (at least, when my mother allows it). Rest of the time they are both pretty serious, or pretending to be. When I think back on the most extraordinary and fulfilling times with my folks, I always feel like we were in transit somewhere, far from the social programmes and mores of the places and communities in which we were rooted. Movement became the kind of thing that set the stage for engaging. Deeply. Curious and different others were somehow very attractive; sometimes my mother would hold back and let my father fly into his own world of talking away to people he didn’t know about topics ranging from thermodynamics and entropy to the kinds of things that one talks about in the middle of a trip from Away to Home, whatever those things were. I don’t know. I would just be hanging out playing cards or something with my little brother; the topics and their content were irrelevant. What mattered was the people who were there, smiling with my father, smiling away. Being in real life. Being in the throes of it. Being noticed. Noticing. For a moment, the shared space. Which nowadays I design for in my own world, making architecture of social spaces, and remarkable human connexion, in the thing that happens online and in real life in the project that since 2016 I’m calling S P A C E. It’s nerdy. I know. So? I like that. And the mentor for this was, of course, my dad. I still remember my father trading postal addresses in the 1980s with total strangers he’d chatted up at, say, Frankfurt Airport, on our way to and fro. My mother would kind of be like, ‘What the hell?’ But, I wish she could have just noticed it. My father likes the new and different. is curious. Is open to trying new things. That is the spirit of innovation, really, isn’t it? Going to the edge, and past it, and exploring to the next-to-now. It’s actually quite in-demand, now. This business of being open to the new. It’s called ‘innovation consulting.’ You go around the world a few times and you start to find ways to make your skills work for you in weird and curious ways. Be open. Say yes. Show up. Try new things. You just have no idea where the next gig is coming from. Just around the corner, you’ll find it, if you’re open to it. The gems. Staying put is boring, for the likes of people like me. (Dad, are you reading this? I think you should go on a trip sometime, maybe with me, maybe with Mom, but really. Trips are where we flourish.)
Starting all over
KEEPING THINGS IN CHECK, maybe, by not getting too carried away with being too joie de vivre-y. Sure. This is more normal, I suppose. I guess that is just a self-limiting thing. You have to do what you have to do in order to maintain a kind of decorum, ‘in the eyes of society,’ Words of the pragmatists, who used to be friends, who have been slowly but confidently let to drift on a long, loose line and not quite cut from my current life but, well, yeah, I guess more or less cut.
Here’s the thing. Caring about what society thinks… you think that you have to. But what if you don’t? What if you don’t have to worry about that? What if what other people thought about you, and what you say, and what you do, and how you do it, and even more importantly, what if you yourself stopped caring about your image, what your words are perceived to be (by you perceiving the predicted perception—you see how this is a little unwieldy?), what you do, and how you do it? What if, what I’m saying is this, now, what if who cares what the reaction is to your self-driven initiative to go out into the world and see what’s there?
What I’m saying is, ‘What if you could just be yourself, the real you, the honest you, the totally unedited version of you. The one you were when you were, like, 8.’ What if? Would you find it easier to chat up strangers? Or, would you come to the realization that it’s not even that important-–the most important thing is knowing what you care about.
You don’t have to pretend like you are some kind of a big deal just because you can get into a conversation with anyone. Even E., on a crosswalk yesterday, on her way from Sydney to England via everywhere that she wants to go in between. (Hi, E.! Yes, I was listening).
Making friends in the cafe.
Making friends on the bus.
Making friends in the…. crosswalk.
I love that.
Let’s keep it going. Let’s keep the conversations in flow.
Let’s chat up the strangers. But not now, not today. Today I’ve got to finish some books.
Here’s to the journeys, the new, the near, the now, and the next.
OMG. I couldn’t help it. Chatted. They are so nice!
TODAY I AM CONTINUING to think about the creative process. It’s a follow-up from two things:
- Yesterday’s post about the creative process. (Will people leave comments there? I hope so. But let’s see.)
- ‘Sharpen and heighten,’ one of our favorite Q&A interviews, with science podcaster Jai Ranganathan.
Exploring without knowing
THE CREATIVE PROCESS itself was the subject of two conversation salons in Durham, NC: MAKE and MAKE II. ‘What is the creative process? Who uses it? What changes as a result?’ We had a dozen guest speakers at those two events; and a crowd. I can’t believe it, still, thinking back, that when I first returned to the Raleigh-Durham region after a decade away to throw the ‘do that we called MAKE how almost 100 people drove in from far and near vertices of the Triangle to connect, converse, listen, and learn.
Was just marvelous, that time, so we hosted the same event a year on.
MAKE and MAKE II were occasions, to me, the kind that I wouldn’t forget. I had no idea at the time that relational art would become my kind of party, that the being-together was the whole show. That awareness came way later, probably the night I read from the chapter ‘Blankslate’ at a cafe in Phnom Penh–the first chapter of Breakfast in Cambodia, to the group who had gathered that night–‘I know this street, I know that feeling, I know, because I”m here!’–that was the feedback.
And we were. Together, there.
In the moment, in the place that was written in the pages.
Diving in and out of S P A C E.
Yes. There’s a lot of philosophizing I could do here, but I’ll get back to the story of MAKE.
BEING THERE. I still remember JW, a sculptor and guest panelist at the first MAKE, talking about birds and the beautiful metaphor he gave us that day about how the creative process is like a flight. I can’t properly fit the whole feeling here… I couldn’t eloquently state it here; you simply had to be there, that’s what these salons are for, after all—the real life, real time experience. A co-created improvised play, which happens on the spot, and which ends in rather no time at all. Ephemera and the heightened moment of the urgent, sequestered ‘now.’ Oh, no. I’m getting philosophical. Well, let me save that sort of talk for another day. Perhaps this one, in Phnom Penh.
EVERY SO OFTEN, and this happened just last night, someone says something that reminds me of the existence this video that someone made, animating radio host Ira Glass‘ thoughts on the creative process. Of course any mention of IG makes me remember JK‘s story about picking the man up from the airport and getting starstruck–too funny. JK, what are you up to where you are? What are you making lately? Questions I would foist your way, if we were in good e-communciation. I’m still around to talk about these kinds of things, you know. Hopefully in a comment thread to come, over here. But yeah. The video.
Here it is:
FILE UNDER ‘RESOURCES.’ Personally, I just like to ‘do’ the creative process. Instead of just diving in and making something, which is my usual habit when I have this kind of focus time, today, I’m writing to people around the world whose work I think is curious, and whose perspective I’d love to hear when it comes to questions about the creative process, why we make anything, and what we’re doing this for. It’s a big question, of course. The point is not to get ‘popular,’ for me, anyway, or ‘rich.’ I just want to make good art. Did you see that video, ‘Make Good Art?’? SK had sent it to me, right before I left the States. I must say it was a contributing factor to the decision to get going on the road, indefinitely, without a fixed income, savings, or a plan. But yeah. I found a link. Here’s the YouTube video:
For further reading?
Anyone have further resources to add?
Please leave a comment with your link. Really would be great if you could point me to some people who aren’t white men, hey. I’ve been looking but it’s tough–women and people who aren’t white tend to just simply not get the spotlight as often. Imagine! But it’s true. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, with things to say. Help us find the important stories? Connect with me or just leave a comment below. I love the interactive part of writing this whole blog thing, because it’s not a flat space, we’re evolving it as we add to it. The geometry of a space is the set of all points within that space. And: S P A C E changes because you’re there. It’s kind of fun to think about physics and space, spacemaking and the fourth dimension. I can talk more about that, sometime. Let’s get to know each other, though, a bit first.
Thanks! Comments are open for a bit.
This post and other stories are made possible by support of members of S P A C E. Discover more here.
IN THIS POST, I will share with you some of the current thinking behind ‘At rest while in motion,’ but also, walk you through the actual in-the-moment journey of how one goes about trying to figure out the vague answer to the superlative question, ‘What am I doing?’
This last because it is a question that pops up a lot in the conversations I have with people in a very short space of time: ‘DK, tell me what to do now. You seem to have things figured out.’ Er. Hardly.
Those who know me personally know that I’m hardly well put-together; behind-the-scenes, I am a bundle of bits of paper, slips of notebooks that go in boxes, some of which I’ve lost track of, and all of which are existing in perhaps dusty, surely disquiet collections in patches, tucked away in the nooks and apartment closets, houses and spare rooms of very nice people (and sometimes relatives, wow), who take them in and hold them for me, indefinitely, until it is time to revisit with the old material and see how it fits with the new.
I guess I have something figured out, though, if I’m honest about it. Since 2013 I’ve been ‘on the road, indefinitely, with no fixed income, plans, or savings.’ And DK started in 1994, and then became an LLC in 2005, which was the last time I had a 9-6 day job. So, what does that mean? Well, when it comes to answering one question I think I have a thing or two to say. The question being, ‘How to take a step out, when you’ve no idea where you are going…’ Mmm-hmm. Story. Of my life.
But wait. I’m getting off on some random tangent. Let me talk about the creative process. Let me start with material.
MATERIAL IS THE FIRST thing that I am looking at, right now, when I am considering the first thing to do now that I am in one spot, for a time, with the bookings made through at least the end of the weekend, which, in our new state of ‘nomadic drift’, which isn’t new at all, really, but this time, there really are no flats or monthly rentals to contend with nor people who are there to say hello to every day, but rather, the flux. The flow. The movement. I like this, but I also have a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that moves in packs with me; the suitcases are not as heavy as they were in 2013 (left one in Delhi, left one in Bangkok), but they still are there. Taking up room. What to do with all this material? What to keep, what to let go? There are snippets from the deep past, somewhere in a box in Cambodia, there are things from even further back, well before that, art show leftovers in rolls in Raleigh-Durham. I always wondered what I would do with all that stuff. Stuff. So much of it. Might explain why somewhere along the way, I switched from doing print work to going digital only. This is coming around again to the world of somewhat limited edition and very custom, very one-of-a-kind printed stuff, but again, it’s stuff, and that means, ‘What do I do with this?’ It’s been neat sending some things off in the postal service, through the S P A C E || Finland page in our online store. It’s been nice to share things with people in real life, people I’ve just met, people who say, ‘Those are nice. Wait, are you selling them? Great. How much? Okay, that’s fair. I’ll take one of those.’ It’s like giving away kittens, I think. You have a lot of offspring and you don’t know where they’ll go; but you don’t want to just leave them around. You want to find them good homes. And that’s what’s happening. The rest?… the rest is with me. I’ve got an extra bag now. It’s got Moomintroll on it. After all, this was the summer of stuff I made in Finland. But it’s also… good material. For zining. On into the next. I like it when bits and pieces from the last place make their way into the current works. And so, now, I should talk a bit about the creative process.
‘Trust the process’
FOR THE FIRST TEN years of DK, I would always start with a few things with every new client. First, I’d ask for a book recommendation: ‘What book sums the story of you? I’ll go and read it.’ Then, I’d ask for them to have a look at this slideshare, because it’s really quite simple to read through and puts a lot of stuff in perspective. Lastly, I’d ask them to ‘trust the process.’ To trust me, really, to guide the way towards some kind of breakthrough.
That’s not an easy thing to sign up for, but sign up a handful of people did, each year from 2004 until now, which means that’s why DK is still here, existing, making space and now S P A C E (online magazine) and Atelier S P A C E to gather us for short-run weeklong or four-week-long stints of time so as to delve into the exact style of the foray into the creative process that DK had delivered to clients in Seattle, Raleigh-Durham NC, and more recently, in Phnom Penh.
Because I myself am in the midst of a design overhaul here at DK, not unusual because we like to reinvent quite a lot around here, well, I’m taking stock of the materials gathered and looking ahead to 2019. Where shall we take things with DK? Who wants to collaborate with us, who wants to connect in S P A C E? Does S P A C E want to become something different from what it is, right now? Or is it working, as it is? Even in very small circles (which is my personal preference), there are moments of real and true connexion, you can feel it, it’s not just me saying that, and then we get philosophical and talk life and meaning and sometimes about life plans but not in the usual terms, more in… the kinds of words that one allows oneself ot speak when she or he feels at ease. I remember this from a past life, a longago summer, this wild and crazy time of just being, just hanging out, with friends. Before the era of justifying your existence through the use of social media channels, there was just us being around each other talking late into the night maybe with some music going in the background or someone with a guitar, but always, always, always, there was that ease and comfort when you felt like you could just hang out, just chill, just be around people, just be. A long time ago, yes, that I felt that was the norm. Now, what happened? We are distracted and I forget to get back to the work of making S P A C E. At the Form/Space Atelier show I was invited to put together in Seattle (thanks again PP), I remember writing the artist statement and saying something about BTFL SIMPL. Which was: ‘I want people to relax. To feel air, space and comfort.’ That has not changed.
S P A C E for play. S P A C E for conversation. S P A C E for slowing down. S P A C E for the easygoing ‘third place.’ There is so much to talk about. That’s because… there’s so much material. The work now is to sift through all of this and see what makes sense to keep, what to let go. Editing is this. Editing is being aware of the thread that makes the necklace, and letting the string sing while the gems and pearls add to the vocals, rather than distract and detract. The vocals matter. The vocals. Erm. Ah. I sound like DK is some kind of a band. I talk a lot about jam sessions. I talk about jazz. Chords. I guess, in a way, I’m kind of the vocals around here. I’m looking for the baseline, the guitar, the horns, someone bring a triangle, and whatever else you’ve got. Come out and play with us, with the people who are here and ready. Jazzy, light. It’s okay. I don’t have to overthink this. I don’ have to intellectualize. Either you get it, and you want to try it, or you don’t.
And that’s fine. Because, like ES had put it once, it’s not for everyone.
And like RKP had said, ‘Find the art and magic.’
Art of not knowing
WHERE IS NEXT? I HAVE NO IDEA.
And that’s okay.
It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Just ask N. Bohr (you’ll have to go to Copenhagen and find his grave at Assistens). But for the moment, at the top of the journey of a parabola upon which a ball is tossed upward, there is a spot where the velocity is zero. That means, we’re at rest. That we’ve stopped moving. For that moment, you have the view. The vista, the zenith. Take it all in; look around. See what’s what. But don’t try to put meanings to things that you’re looking back on, and don’t investigate too deeply into what’s next. Because the moment is here, is now. And we are at zero velocity.
Well, from the near-distance view, I see on the horizon: Phnom Penh. For Atelier S P A C E || Phnom Penh.
But… the zenith. The quiet in the height. That’s… to me… that’s beautiful.
That’s where the art begins. Noticing.
Can you dig it?
Comments open, for a bit.
IN THE 1990s, I used to make tons of mix tapes. I wish I could make one right now, but I don’t know how to do that easily so what I’m going to do is cue up a playlist for you. It’s inspired by the things I got to know a little bit about over the summer, a few inspiring soundbites that left me thinking and wondering and curious and open to learning more, in each of the different musical directions. (You’ll see, in a bit, what I mean, I hope, when you see the list.)
That’s how it is in S P A C E. Keeping an ear to the ground, walking towards the new. Seeking the opportunities, when the mood is right of course, not always. I’m not always looking for an ‘experience.’ But when I find one, hey. Let’s note it. Let’s make a blog post. This one kicked off my last night in Helsinki, when I went to a concert and heard the song ‘Kaksi Planeeta,’ which means, ‘Two planets,’ by Maagine. Of course I had to ask them, personally, some questions about it, and find out more, and discover things about the planets and so on because, after all, we are writing every day here in S P A C E about spacious things. This happened at a back-alley venue in Helsinki called Semifinal, which took me a bit of time to find, but I’m glad I did. (Special thanks to VK for inviting me to listen to the show, and for the good conversations, both in Helsinki and Kärsämäki. Conversation… my favorite-ever kind of jam.)
The mix tape is called ‘Exit Vantaa.’ Find it on Spotify here. Or check out the YouTube links, below.
I hope you like it.
E X I T V A N T A A
S P A C E || H E L S I N K I
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
The Book of Love
Killing me Softly
‘Don’t just document, Make Art’
DK x Benjamin Nwaneampeh
If Your Mother was a Hamster
Fly me to the Moon
Nyt On Lähtö
Printed set of limited-edition zines from the new collection, S P A C E || Finland. For members of S P A C E.
Join S P A C E here.
GREAT CONVERSATIONS UNFOLDED as DK and friends made zines in Oulu with guests of Hei Kesä.
Hei Kesä was 16 August’s popup zinemaking workshop and mini-art exhibition.
Very special thanks to Anu Lakkapää of Kahvila Tuokio for co-hosting with us, what a great place, and to Paavo Heinonen of Ouluntaiteidenyö for the exceptional conversations.
It was cool and low-key to be part of the yearly Ouluntaiteidenyö, or Oulu Arts Night, a popup of art, literature, and music. Highly recommend putting this on your tour if you are an enthusiast of small -scale cities, nature, new places, new people, intriguing peoplewatching, and drift. Not that many people wander this far north, and here we are, finding a moment, at Tuokio, discovering the point of it all, I feel, the point of making art, anyway: discovering the beauty of now, here, where we are. In real life, together.
ZINEMAKING. Zines from the summer. Zines from the moment. Learning together about how to let go of the ‘this is what art making looks like’ ideas, in order to just play. Like, improvise. On the spot. Together. Co-creating poems in the dada style, choosing buttons from a bowl and sewing them into our books. Folding, cutting, drinking coffee, enjoying. Very special, very cozy (like our hygge experiences at small clubs in Copenhagn, and fika conversations in Malmö).
There are a lot of people who informed the design and content of this, and I’ll be talking more about that sometime, but meantime before battery runs out on this machine, and before I fall asleep again, I want to share one picture today of what it felt like to be there.
Next stops: Helsinki, Kuala Lumpur, and Phnom Penh for salons, workshops, and ateliers. See our upcomings here.