Meet new people. Make a zine. Share the journey of the creative process over this unique, once-off weekend conversation salon cum real life workshop. We’ll meet three times over the 3-day weekend workshop. Date, time, and place to be shared with those who are selected to take part. We’ll add the final works to our S P A C E || Cambodia collection, which has featured at the Singapore Writers Festival and the Georgetown Readers and Writers Festival, in 2017. Discover more when you apply. Apply here.
DK AND FRIENDS TOGETHER co-host the zinemaking popup conversation salon and *happening* ‘Hei Kesä’ in Oulu. This is in collaboration with Kahvila Tuokio and Oulu Taiteiden Yö (Oulu Arts Night).
It was the delightful yellow bright interior of the cafe that got us thinking, ‘This would be a great place to host a zinemaking popup about summer, summer memories, summer stories, love, romance, all that kind of thing, and we’ll do it on 16 August to coincide with the citywide popup that is Oulu Arts Night.’
An idea. A chance encounter, or two, and voila. Special thanks to Paavo Heinonen for including DK’s event in the Oulu Arts Night programme and conversing with us about how to make it even better. A great collaboration like ‘let’s do this. Let’s make it really fun for people, and let’s talk about who would want to be there, and then, what we can do to design a magic moment.’
That’s what starts all this. Sparkly things like discovering people, places, and the brightness of a yellow interior that feels exactly like ‘Hi, Summer.’
Speaking of, big thanks to Anu Lakkapää at Kahvila Tuokio for offering
the space. DK loved meeting her and talking about her passion for making cakes. Plus, the espresso was really, really good. (A must for any venue DK chooses for our events, hah.)
A SERIES. Shout-out, too, to Eveliina Karsikas. Eveliina owns the cake and coffee place Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki, which is relatively new here. If I’m correct, it opened this very summer, and we happened to be in the same town, and found it. The colorful interior here drew our eye and that’s part of why we made a coloring-book to share along with our usual zines. Eveliina had kindly co-hosted this event, ‘Hei Kesä’, with us in that town earlier this summer, on International Zine Day. (See picture at left).
OULU. Now our team is looking forward to getting the popup installed, and opening up the new zine show on 16th. The first part of our programme is a workshop, and there are very limited seats. Tickets are €15, includes materials, plus coffee, for the zinemaking workshop. Here is our schedule for the day. We’ll have all of our new zines with us to showcase and share on the day, too. All were made in Finland this summer, the set we call our S P A C E || Finland collection. Here’s a picture:
16 A U G U S T
Zines. Coffee. Real life.
Oulu Arts Night
€15 (price includes materials, plus coffee)
Ages 16+. Limited seats. Be sure to book in advance to confirm your spot: get tickets here.
3PM Zine Table
IN A FEW DAYS, I will be starting the salon in our protected-page space, ‘Slow Moment.’ It’s about slowing down. Recharging. Discovering yourself when you make time to show up… for you. No obligations, no ‘to-do’s, and scrapping the idea of ‘getting something accomplished,’ the idea of this particular programme is to let it flow. Flow. So important. I have been talking with people in online conversations for about four months now, setting things up for this special 12-week session. It’s our last online workshop, for the general public, as it just became obvious that for DK, making people be creative isn’t important. What’s important for DK is helping those who have already taken a step, of their own accord, towards some kind of transformative breakthrough. Of course you can’t have a linear path to breakthrough. Or transformative stuff of any kind. Of course it takes work, struggle, sloshing about, tackling vague ideas, throwing most of them away, and starting over, when you recognize that all the work so far has been ‘sketching.’ We call it P L A Y. Playing our way towards the new and the next is what we do around here.
Zining in Finland, Cambodia, et al.
ZINING HAS BEEN, for me personally, a way of slowing down. Zining in Finland, in particular. ‘This is Finland,’ said J., whom I met last night at the pub. ‘We just… be.’ Not bad. I really enjoyed our brief chat outside of the place; karaoke was on inside and it was a thin crowd. I cycled over there with my midnight ride in the pretty-bright-still-but-not-like-before light. Mist was out. Mist. This was what we talked about. Small town life. Passerby. Chance encounters. That’s the stuff of gathering the narratives that make S P A C E the zine; showing up to ask the questions and be prepared for anything is the jazzy jam that is Atelier S P A C E. (If I don’t show up for me, how can I ask others to show up for themselves? So I am living the practice. Go where you don’t know anyone. Find out stuff. Ask them things. Talk to people. Learn. Discover. Find a theme. Then, either with guests who are interested in joining in with you or without them, write a short 8-page zine that pulls together the best of that which you pick up, makes it contemporary, gives it a shape, and then, print some of them, and share them.)
Pubs are third places. They are where we convene. I know, I know. There is an objective, most of the time. Not me. I’m there for the conversations.
Here where I am about six hours north of Helsinki, things are quiet. Conversations are slow and easy. All around is nature—and it’s handy that you can cycle around to get the things you need. Foodstuffs. Provisions. Euros. It’s convenient, small, and just fine. I am not a stranger to small town life; and this stay has got me remembering all the things about Skibbereen and rural North Carolina that I used to really enjoy. End-to-end rainbows, for example. Which I talked about in the past, here on this blog, when ‘A Slow Moment begins’ got writ.
Poetry slams in S P A C E
WRITING MORE. Zining. Making poems with people around the world. ‘Whatever of philosophy is made into poetry is alone timeless.’ These words—I had quoted them in my TEDx talk, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’ Something I haven’t admitted out loud anywhere on the public spaces of the blog is this: I was kind of winging that talk, there, at the end. You have to read your audience, right, and see where the feeling is going. You have to see what fits, what’s working, what’s not. It takes time to build up to that. It’s a long, simple crescendo. You get going and you start and you begin to get the feeling. Here is what’s the story. This is where we’re synching. It’s a jam session, to me—even me on the stage felt like that. I was laughing and enjoying myself with the people in the front rows who were laughing and enjoying themselves with me. (Afterwards, a ‘speechmaker’s consultant’ tried to pitch me, and said, ‘You really don’t want to laugh at your own jokes.’ But for me, for DK, for all he things that have become, since, S P A C E, if I don’t laugh, I’m not having fun, and if I’m not having fun, whatever the hell is the point?’ Of course I didn’t ask him to help me. In fact, that was the last time I got on stage, aside from one other time, in the same city on the same stage, in fact, for ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’ Too fun.)
DG said it: ‘Throw away most of the stuff you write, because you know what? It’s bad. I did that. Do you do that? Throw away most of it?’ I nodded. He said, ‘Good.’ DG is a pianist. I get along with piano people, drummers. Maybe because they like to accompany… words. I am the vocals. I realize this now. Words are my thing. Pen is my medium. Whether lines in marker, or cut lines, or lines worked out somehow (it takes a long time sometimes, but other times comes in bursts, like now, unedited and uninterrupted—a story flows) into poems, or occasional ebooks, I make lines.
Slow moment? For me, bringing the lines into shape. Giving the scaffold in architecture blueprint to the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E. Something to say? Leave a comment, below. Comments are open, until the bots catch on.
DK is making S P A C E, a weekly interactive magazine and an online community for people who are highly engaged with the creative process.
CONTINUING. To make. Zines, mostly, in June. July looks different. July has a different feeling to it. The flowers are changing. The fragrances, too. I feel like I’m a teenager again: staying up really late, talking to people about everything, joking, cutting up paper and sending little notes out into the world, writing letters, sharing the time with friends, and generally being curious about ‘what’s going to happen today.’ Slow moment. Slowing. Noticing. Making things is a way to do that, of course. You put something together with your time, focus, and your craft. You make a thing that, after some time, begins to take shape.
This zine (pictured) was one of the first ones I made here, when I got to the residency and started obsessing about ‘producing stuff.’ It was a limited edition of just 3. Two of them went out into the world to new people I’ve met. One is left. It’s the favorite of the ones that people peruse, when they examine the three dozen or so little books that I’ve made since I’ve been here. I’m in a conversation with someone who is going to maybe help me put together a little exhibition, at the end of July, so we can share them in a giant popup style installation with the general public. It would be very DK. Come as you are, have a read if you want, put something back, take a look, enjoy the books, talk to each other, ask me anything. More and more, I’m realizing the books and art pieces are just conversation-starting prompts. They invite some query, sure, introspection, even. But like everything I make and do, it’s the conversation I care about most. The giving and receiving, the interconnection, the sharing of S P A C E, and of course, time. Art, at its best, is a conversation. Something I find myself saying over and over again, including yesterday evening upon parting with my new possible collaborator in the making of installation art here in, um, Kärsämäki. Finland, like. Who knew.
Friends and new acquaintances. Guests in ‘Slow Moment.’ Members of S P A C E. All of you are always welcome, to meet me in the aether, the forums, the real life spaces, the public squares of our lives and disconnect from the internet world, where there are only facades and cropped pictures of the things that are really real. But go to a lake or down by a river, look at a rainbow or find the moon and the sun together in a bright white sky, and there is no way to capture or record that feeling. The smell, the people, the ambient nature of it—you cannot put that into a square photograph and expect it to be received the way you’re receiving it. The scene, I mean. And that means… here it is, the crux of it, the thing I wanted to say, that means, when you just document for the sake of it without paying attention to where you are and who you’re with and the things that are being said with words and gesture and the blank space that convey far more than either, then you’re not really there. You’re not sending something cool and interesting into the world if you’re just shooting a quick pic and blogging it or microblogging it somewhere. You’re just… looking for attention or validation. Let’s admit this. Social media is about validation-seeking. Isn’t it? And you know what? That means–you’re not fully there when you’re presenting something to someone. What you send is vague and tattered, what’s received is even more so. That said, I’m concluding that this is probably the major reason I don’t have a mobile phone or trade texts with anyone or even use most social media these days. Why? It’s not a great conversation. And if conversation and dialogue is what I care about most–and it is, making great space for remarkable connexion and interconnection—then I better find the channels and media that work best to do just that.
Real life, for example.
Real life is best.
DK hosts ateliers in S P A C E in real life. Next up: Atelier S P A C E: Kärsämäki on 21 July.
‘I THINK YOU should sew them.’
‘Why? They’re fine.’
‘No, no. If you sew them, it’ll be more, what’s the word… Substantial.’
‘Come on. These are more than just zines. You know that. The world of zines is full of stuff that looks like most of the stuff that’s also in the rest of the world of zines. What you’re making is different. It’s new. It’s kind of refreshing, actually. What is it, though?’
‘Are you asking me to talk about it? Like, put words on it?’
‘That is so!’
‘You have to. You have to be able to speak about your work intelligently.’
‘You sound like some art critic who would buy some bollix that someone typed up at the artist statement generator site 500letters.org. Which, by the way, is ridiculously funny. I tried to get in touch by email with the creator of that, to do a Q&A with us here in S P A C E, but nothing came back. Maybe too much fan mail comes in about that. It’s so on the nose, you know? It just points it out so clearly and with that really amazing tool that lets you click around and then it spits out your artist statement, since, of course, artists don’t write they do art, and whatever. Man. The whole art world is so stuck up its own ass.’
‘Art world? When did you start caring about the art world?’
‘Ever since people came over and talked to me about what I’m doing here at this artist residency thing. And asked me what my art is about. And what art I like. And stuff.’
‘You do, though. Like art. And make it, too.’
‘I know! But the last time I felt this way was in New York. Also surrounded by art makers, and people who appreciate art. Or say they do. My opinion then was that they just need something to be all snooty about, and so, you know, they start in on art, and turn into the Art World bollix that gets in the way.’
‘Of actually seeing! Of seeing the beauty! And artists want to frame the beauty!’
‘You know, not all artists—‘
‘Okay! Fine! Not all artists. But I’m not talking about hobbyists or people who are just trying to have a creative outlet, or people who are making art because they think it’s going to land them in front of some famous pot of people and they’ll be all validated and stuff. Because that’s not what art is!’
‘You think you know, then, what art is?’
‘I know what it is to me!’
‘That’s not a thing to share in public! Because if you start sharing around about the things that most matter to you, those things get… sloppier. I don’t know. They get… messed up. They lose the spark of that thing I love the most: freshness, surprise. The unexpected.”
‘Waffly. You have to show your work sometime!’
‘That’s not what I mean. Show the process.’
‘Why? So you can feel like it’s cool and you’re getting a piece of the story? So that I make lifestyle blog pictures? No. I tried that and I don’t like the way that felt. I prefer just making the pieces. And then, sharing those. Even if it’s just like, my mom who downloads them.’
‘I think more people than your mom download your books and stuff, DK.’
‘Well, a few more.’
‘But you want… to be more… known.’
*exasperated* ‘You don’t understand. Art gets better… oh, no. I’m going to talk about art? Okay, fine, well, you got me started. Here it is. Art gets better when you share it in parts, and you see how people respond to it, and it is not user testing that I am talking about, it’s sharing the experience of watching a thing coming into the world. Like standing by when a baby’s being born, maybe, a little bit like that, and witnessing something cool happening. Seeds germinating. Remember in science classes when you put seeds into the wet paper and they started sprouting, just like that? Wasn’t that like, the coolest thing, ever? I thought so. Potentiality is often depicted as a seed, but there’s way more to the seed than the thing itself. The feelings, the people, the environment, the arrangements of things, the music that’s playing when you’re making stuff, there’s so, so much. I’m playing jazz. I always play jazz when I’m in the throes of it. I’m in a good spot, today. Making photographs, for ‘Slow Moment.’ Today four came into crisp shape. You have to spend some time with a place to get to know it before you can take pictures of it. I’ve been here three weeks and the pictures finally look great. You know why? You have to get to know your subject, first, you have to… fall in love with it.’
‘I always talk about this and people who know, know. Photographers. Artists. All right, fine, not all artists are bullshitting. Some of them are really amazing. The reason is because they care. And they want their work to be better, and they’re working to improve the quality of the pieces and not getting carried away doing these silly things for the sake of resume-building. Am I making my point, clearly?’
‘Yes. But can we get back to the story, DK?’
‘What was the question, again?’
‘Do you want to be more… known?’
‘I don’t know. It’s not like people buy these things. Even if they do, are they my people? I like it when I can share my works with people directly because, then, you know, we’re having a conversation, and that’s the part I love. You get to see how people play with the magazines, the mini-books, that are like, more developed now than just the plain ol’ books or writings, that I used to do. I mean, typesetting them beautifully and printing them up and sharing them is nice, and all, but it’s really neat to see how people play with them, the secret pockets and hideaway stuff, and so on, and interactivity, which I love, and it’s neat to see them engage with these little books so that I can tweak them a little. Design, after all. I did that for so long I can’t help but want to continue it along in the new stuff, too. Making things better. A little less confusing. I guess writing and communicating are part of that journey. And all that. Watching, learning, changing, growing… evolving. Working with newspapers, in the newsroom, then designing things for people, layout, typography, paper. I love all this stuff. Playing with it. Rearrangements, bricolage. And shaping things in new ways based on how the environment and the people in places I go respond. Which is how, well, okay. You know, I think you might be right.’
‘Of course. I’m always right.’ *laughs*. ‘About what, though?’
On International Zine Day (21 July), DK are posting by mail a limited edition of hand-sewn zines from our hyperlocal creative nonfiction series, S P A C E. The A4 photozine is called ‘Slow Moment.’ A very limited edition piece, this one. Learn more here.
A summer festival of the zine in Kärsämäki
Saturday, 21 July
I N T E R N A T I O N A L Z I N E D A Y
H e i K e s ä
Making zines. Sharing time. In real life.
P R O G R A M M E
Atelier S P A C E | Kärsämäki
Hei Kesä @ Cafe Onni
Author reading from the new zine ‘S P A C E || Kärsämäki’
NEW. Zines. Creative nonfiction pieces. Are now for sale here at Design Kompany’s site, exclusively. These were created at Atelier S P A C E, a popup, roving, zinemaking atelier that seeks to interconnect people in hyperlocal narratives. We write them, on the spot. With the people who take part. It’s pretty fun, light, conversational, and really all about seeing what emerges when we frame a space to ‘get lost, together.’ Improvisation, poetry, philosophy, breaking out of boxes: and yet, doing all this, within the confines of a specific time-bound and space-bound frame: that’s it. That’s the whole thing. That’s Atelier S P A C E. See the journey so far in pics at our instagram, or follow the posts here.
Currently available for immediate download and pre-order:
- S P A C E || Battambang
- S P A C E || Cameron Highlands
- S P A C E || Kuala Lumpur
- S P A C E || Sheffield
The collection, shown below, is set to be completed by December, 2018. The entire work will interweave narratives of people, place, and story. The first story is set in 1996, in Kyoto. The last store is set in 2018, in Phnom Penh.Each zine will be released to members of our S P A C E community. Join here.
S P A C E || Zines
Research. Reporting. Creative nonfiction. Digital publishing. Limited edition photocopied zine-making. Popup atelier hosting. Welcome to the S P A C E collection made at Atelier S P A C E. Started in Sept. 2017, and is moving to new places to discover people there, get us all talking together, and publish the stories of here, and now, in new editions of the zine, S P A C E.
‘The world is a beautiful book, but of little use to those who cannot read it.’
Writing in S P A C E
THE WRITING IS GOING ALL RIGHT. Here, behind the scenes, we are turning yearslong collected writings and bits into things that are actually in some way processed, thought through, organized, and well-presented. I think this is called publishing. And that’s why we are working on it with Kismuth Books. Lots of room and space, to reflect, to look at the arc of where the stories that left the warmest impressions were, and how they got there. Not that there is a thing to ‘figure out,’ per se. It’s quite nice to just let the things be what they are slowly, in an ukiyo-e way, bubbling up and surfacing to be. Does it make sense?
DISCOVER THE MIRROR. IN 2014, I got this weird idea to write with other people. Some of them friends, some of them acquaintances, and many of them people I didn’t know. Internet friends? I guess. It became interesting very recently, as we have been iterating quite a lot since then. Now, THE MIRROR is a robust tool and we are sharing it out again starting 8 January, with a handful of people who are the right fit. I continue to do this because I love cojournaling; it gives us the opportunity to build a global tribe of people who are also asking questions, and curious about life. A few brave cojournalers who signed up for our very first experiment (January 2014) had NO idea what to expect. It was definitely an exercise in trust. And design, of course. We’ve tweaked it, tested it, added things, deleted things, and tried the whole thing out. It’s less clunky now, 4 years into it.
We use email. But it’s not just mail. It’s someone’s trust in you, and me, and us. It’s sharing. It’s this thing I kept going on about last year, “the village.” It’s about connecting, in a way that’s meaningful and deep and not someone paying for a therapist’s time or someone reading a book once and forgetting about it after that. It’s not a workshop off in the mountains, though those are fantastic, or a class that is going to help you set up everything to write a bestseller. It’s not any of those things. It’s just, simply, space. And it’s working. I can’t believe how the people who’ve just newly met are sharing their very personal thoughts, even in these early days. People are telling me they’re so happy to have time to just “free write,” without much of an agenda, and that they appreciate someone is listening (that would be the groups, and also me), holding them accountable to keep a practice to themselves: Write. Write weekly.
You don’t have to be a writer, you don’t have to be an artist. You can just be YOU. That’s the thing. We often don’t have space or time to spend just discovering who we are, within. I promise I’ve seen this over and over again at Design Kompany. In a modern world where we are so achievement-driven, we forget to make space and time to look within. Frankly, it’s discouraged. It’s “artsy-fartsy,” and it’s “woo-woo.” But by gosh, it’s so darn important. You can’t ever know why you’re doing what you’re doing if you don’t know who you are. So this has been fantastic, and that’s why we’re kicking off this year officially NEXT WEEK. On 8/1/18, we are going to start THE MIRROR 2018. It is for those who are interested in making space to reflect, take stock. With others also responding to the same prompts, in forums, each week. What I learned from DK that I apply to THE MIRROR is one thing: the conversation is the most important part of any creative process.
‘What’s in it for me?’ Fair question. This is about creating intentional space for you to write, in a dedicated way, with other people doing the same thing in other parts of your city or the world. I will be here to hold you accountable, giving you a quarterly update with feedback. This is not for a grade or any kind of validation, but I will guide you to committing time to flex your creative writing (outside of work, your local writing club, or academia). Sharing in a nonjudgmental way with others is a huge part of this, and learning to be a little vulnerable along the way makes space for a different kind of writing which may be new for you, too.
Why this is different. This isn’t school, or work, and yet, even recess has a set time for little kids. Space to play. To discover. To look, ask, and try. Think of it like you might imagine kindergarten—anything is possible—except now you have experience to draw from too. Without a chance to make what’s in our hearts known (first to ourselves, and then to others), it doesn’t get heard. Sometimes our stories are painful—grief, loss, or hurt—but sometimes, behind those things, there is an enormous well of something we didn’t know was there. The subconscience speaks through journaling, telling us each about our deepers elves as we get better at practicing how to let it speak.
I’m a believer in flat, open circles, and am creating this space so as to invite lots of real stories from the heart to come onto the (digital) page, if that’s what happens, or at least illuminate for their authors exactly what it is that’s inside. There are far too many times when you can look into the mirror and wonder, “What if things had turned out differently? What if I had applied myself a little more?” It’s not easy in our modern, achievement-oriented culture to give ourselves this kind of permission. Space. To play, to look inward, to do the hard work that can unleash a world of new insight if we let it.
How it works
WHO. No more than 4 people per circle. International, mixed. Groups are assigned based on what people share in their applications: ie, ‘what do I want to get out of this.’ Sequenced prompts are designed based on those common interests, for each circle.
WHAT. A co-journaling weekly prompt arrives each Monday. On Sunday, we’ll craft the next week’s prompt, based on whatever responses come in on that day, or before. It’s this simple. It emerges, and it grows meaningful based on the things that tie together the overarching common themes. Very fun, very intriguing, and a kind of juxtaposition-meets-relational aesthetics weird and cool vibe pops up.
WHEN. Starts 8 January, 2018. Are you wondering how much time this will take? Don’t feel pressured to commit to yet another thing to do: this is meant to be a complement and fertilizer for whatever writing you have already planned to do.
FLOW. It’s okay not to have a clear idea up front about what it is you’ll write about, the creative process always begins with a fuzzy open slate. Then, through the work, through the practice, something becomes interesting to you. This something is the gem that all the work up until that moment of discovering it will have been for. Once you have this piece, the golden nugget, we will work together to write a piece that is all about that which the nugget has inspired in you. Write what you know, they say, but we can’t know what we know until we dig a little to discover this little thing that is so very important in the big work of writing our real stories, in our true, authentic voice. Everyone knows the difference between pieces that are written from the heart, and those that are just written. Editors like to say, ‘The writer works so the reader doesn’t have to.’ Over time, we may begin to see connections happen across the virtual space between guests. This happens. In really cool ways, people began to ask one another questions to go a little deeper on the ideas that are coming up. Making a space for it to bubble up and *happen*, that’s the framing for THE MIRROR. The whole thing: that’s it.
HOW TO JOIN. It starts with an application. Apply through this page: http://designkompany.com/apply. Selected candidates will be invited to register, and an orientation note will be shared from there. Warmly welcoming a few new voices today, and sending virtual hi-fives to returning guests, too.
IT IS INCREDIBLE. The road. How it teaches. You just have no idea where you are going to go, and then, there you are. Writing today from a small unexpectedly well-connected wifi place. Fast. Lucky. Reflecting lately on the journeys, typing and sharing the gems in S P A C E. Enjoying offline random conversations. So many! A few intriguing people; no, no, that’s understating. More than a few. A dozen? Atelier S P A C E has brought me to them. A Programme that is by design about bumping into chance encounters, during specific windows of time in selected spaces. Going and finding these ‘boxes’, be they cafes or lounges, bars or museums, whatever and however it works it works, but the important part is that there has to be a good feeling about them. Chemistry is big. What is the quality of the space that we are shaping? Something like ‘the third place,’ is the closest I’ve found. But with a spark: a little twinge of !*, an ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ And ‘Huh!’ I like to think of it as the magic moment. You have to design for it. And you can. It’s pretty neat.
There was more here, before, but I deleted it. I guess it just felt pretty personal, and it was hard to get so full-on intimate outside of the boxes that we make, in our ateliers, and in our online ‘rooms’ for conversation. Something has changed, I guess, for me. More interested in small scales, human scale dialogues. With new, and different others. So many of the people I *just met*, for example, are exceedingly interesting—for a time. in the shape of space that moves and shifts, these encounters linger and press a kind of memory. But the new news is this. Memories of memories change, in fact, too. What do we think about, how we feel, where we were, what’s next… All questions to think about, if you are the thinking-about-questions sort. If you are, let me know. We have more things ahead, in S P A C E.
Blink, and 2017 ended.
LAST CALL to register for Atelier S P A C E in Singapore.
Tickets for the 3-day atelier are SGD $180. Register here.
We are ready, and we are set. Look forward to meeting our registered guests tonight at the *secret meetpoint* at the National Gallery.
S P A C E. Meantime, if you are not in Singapore, but are wondering about how all this will play, do consider subscribing to our online magazine, S P A C E. It’s a weekly. Going since 2014. See what we will be writing, sharing, and co-creating. Find out more at this page.
JUST LANDED. It’s been quite a shift for sure, from Cambodia, and we have a hefty notebookful of things to say that we will hold off on saying until we meet in real life, for Authorities might not like us making Off the Cuff Statements (and we should also refrain from Generalizations and/or Snap Judgments).
I had thought that the Atelier S P A C E event next weekend would be widely welcomed (nope). I am learning that it is the practical and pragmatic, as J. told me yesterday, that will usually win out over the merely intriguing.
We are zinemaking today anyway, to get into the mood. Who will be joining us, how it will happen, what we will make together is an open question, but here at DK we are all about the open-ended query. The shape of space that emerges, when just-because-some-said-why-not showed up, and made a thing *happen.* Battambang was a good one, we made this zine from the stories that came together for the instance of P’chum Ben 2017. ONCENESS is part of it. The urgency of now. Fun to think in a week we will start on the Singapore issue of S P A C E. Here’s to the journeys, the new and the next.
LEARN HOW TO FOLD an 8-page zine, in this short all-ages workshop with Design Kompany. Bring: scissors, an A4 paper, and things you’d like to collage together.
Inspired by the Tate Modern’s International Zine Month programme, you’ll have a chance to make your own zine in response to works, artworks, and themes in the National Library’s collection, and take home a completed zine to share with friends and family.
Zines are self-published non-profit publications with a history rooted in DIY cultures and methods of production, created as an alternative to mainstream publishing. The workshop introduces the basics of zine making, exploring different types of zines and self-published works.
Words you’ve written, printed photos, cuttings from magazines, letters. Everything is welcome, and you’ll have a chance to see how it works when you put them all together.
A selection of zines, fanzines, photozines, and perzines from the library collections will be on hand to draw inspiration from.
Tickets are SGD 30 per adult or SGD 25 per child. Children must be supervised by a participating adult. We’ll meet at a meet point to be shared with RSVP’d guests.
Ages 7+. Cash on the day.
RSVP requested. RSVP through the contact form below.
IF YOU CAN IGNORE the overt product placement by their sponsor, this promo video by A Day Magazine for their Make a Zine fair in Bangkok is simply *charming*. For a while now we have been looking up videos trying to gathering inspiration to share ahead of Atelier S P A C E in Singapore this coming week.
So very many of them are a little bit underdeveloped, but that’s partly because of the culture of ‘DIY,’ in general. Leave things a bit tattered, not too done up. I get that. We get that. It’s part of our own style, too. Don’t make it too perfect, because you’ll kill the raw energy of it!
But the prevailing norm, which is a culture that rewards narcissism, that promotes ‘othering’ and ultimately yields miniature photocopied books aplenty that say, ‘this is me look at me this is what I think, dammit, f* you if you don’t like it,’ well. We all know why this is a problem, yes?
Let’s try something new.
This is how we thought it up. Why we are coming to Singapore for Atelier S P A C E.
What are zines? Why do they exist? Who does them?
People who want to go against the grain. Not just because it’s ‘cool.’ But because if you want real integrity, that isn’t pushed by some media source of that doesn’t have an alt agenda, then zines are a way.
a tutor in media studies at an Australian university, writes ‘an explainer’ piece in The Conversation about zines. An explainer, yes. This is what I have been looking for! ‘Why are you doing this, DK?’ THIS IS WHY!
For those who want one, an explanation that is, about why people zine, this is a good source. I especially love the quote in the title of this post about the culture of ‘just go do it, do it now, and don’t overthink it! that is embodied in the ziner-lover-and-zine-maker’s ethos. This part is cool, too:
The counter-institutional disposition of the zine publisher’s practice, along with the cut-and-paste aesthetic of zines, has seen some attribute a revolutionary history to the form, drawing parallels with the actions and publications of pamphleteers and artists, including… the Soviet-era samizdat writers; Dada and Surrealist artists; and the Situationists of Paris, France.
Check out the full article, posted here.
Pictured: Part of one of the art books I made. It’s called ‘The Book of Blue,’ and I’ve shown it at clubs in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, inviting people to add to it, read from it, take a page or add a page. Interactive. But, it’s not for everyone. So I share it, only once in a while, in very small circles.
HERE WE GO.
DK’s first zine in print, S P A C E || Battambang, drops today.
This was created from the first-ever of our new roving conversation salon-cum-zinemaking popups, Atelier S P A C E. That took place on 26 September, over P’chum Ben in Battambang, Cambodia. We are focusing on the zine idea because it’s simple, tangible, do-able, light, accessible, and easy to put together relatively quickly.
Here is what Atelier SP A C E is.
Ateliers made on the road, on the fly, based solely on chance encounters and the self-selecting guests, collaborators, and co-hosts who, together with us: help design the content, select the themes through the activities we provide to make that easier than it sounds, and make venue spaces available to DK for these programmes. DK go to a new place. See who’s around, talk in real life. That’s just how it always has been. But what’s new is the making something part, now. Of course we design, we write, we get people talking, so why not bring these skills to social spaces, engage us beyond the simple smalltalk and shallow conversations that become, very quickly, a bore? That’s the concept. Of making S P A C E.
PLAY. For a while now, we have been practicing this. What, exactly? How to design space to really get people talking, about you wouldn’t believe what kinds of things, and doing this together with total strangers. (Ask any of us about how). What’s fun for us is the shaping of this space, a kind of timebound and physical geometry. As designers we love to frame the thing, and let the play that happens just happen. Not overdirecting, letting things flow. This is how people hit on their magic moments, of ‘a-ha!’, which, really, can be hugely valuable if you are feeling stuck, bored, siloed, or otherwise disengaged from people right around you. Look up, now, see them, there? Also online, reading, checking. Like me and you. What if, though, we could be reading the same invitation, to show up, to meet, in Atelier S P A C E? See what emerges. See what develops. Themes, philosophies, sharing, and, in the case of BTB’s edition, confessions. What? Yeah.
Today the digital version of the zine S P A C E || Battambang posts in our weekly eZine, S P A C E.
We are making S P A C E to connect new and different others in real life and online conversations in remarkable, authentic moments. Try our online eZine S P A C E, for free.
This is just the beginning.
NEXT MONTH IN SINGAPORE, DK are going to be hosting a popup, weekend zinemaking salon, Atelier S P A C E || Singapore. It’s not quite what, I think, fits into the usual programme of ‘writer event, go to the library,’ and ‘design event, go to a conference,’ and ‘open space, that’s some kind of tech thing, isn’t it?’ But rather, a combination.
Only eight seats for this, and it’s open-invitation, this time, but the idea is to gather quite a variety of perspectives so that the thing we make when we meet to do a zine together (S P A C E Singapore), will necessarily be inclusive and curiously unusual.
It’s going to be 10-12 November. Starts on the Friday night at 7PM at the National Gallery. (That’s the meet point on the first day, when we’ll kick things off in a light, fun, easygoing conversation salon. I’m looking forward to this so very much.)
Based on the notes coming back from the internet, so far, I’m seeing at least a few Singaporeans are ready for this kind of thing. [Update Very nice to read ‘curious and intrigued,’ when I opened one of the responses. But truly, I hope so. The real creative process which I think is missing quite a lot, not just in Asia but the world in general, is one that involves tons of room to invite lots of new and different perspectives (for input, for exploration, for hitting on something novel). How can you ever hit on something different if you always approach the same people, discuss the same things, never leave the boxes? That’s the thing. The silos are where the dullness, mediocrity and complacency set in, we feel. And innovation suffers, and we’re all left with just boring stuff, all around us. Boring because it was a sole person’s ‘idea!’, good for them, but what about the whole, the collaboration, the gestures that can be made when we go where we’ve never been? Outside the comfort zone. Mmm-hm.]
At DK, we’re a little zany, sure, but we are totally serious about our work. Quality matters. It’s important to me. There will be some interesting conversations ahead, for sure, as there always are in our programmes. Conversations! Zines! How fun the two of these things together can be.
GET INVOLVED. I’m excited, ready, and… busy. Skype calls all next week with potential partners. Curious how to get involved? Check out our new page to find out what we’re looking for. Reach out through the form there for the fastest response.
P U B L I C A T I O N S
A U T U M N 2017
WAS IT YESTERDAY? Yes. I said I was going to redesign the entire zine. It’s done. The 8-pager is going to be printed later tonight, or tomorrow. This is a sneak peek of the cover drawing, by Dipika Kohli. This will be folded into the 8-page zine format you may have seen if you were at ‘Remarks on Noteworthiness,’ or ‘Excerpts of Note’ in London, or if you were at ‘Origin’ in Phnom Penh or Hanoi. The idea of a simple folded thing that you can just put in your pocket works well, for this particular one, which is S P A C E || Battambang. Going to print just 8 copies, to distribute to the 8 guests who will take part in Atelier S P A C E || Singapore from 10-12 November.
Simple collection, limited edition. Distributed P2P, with kindness and love, personally shared by hand. Isn’t that where the magic is? Person to person, eye to eye? Let’s *make* something. Let’s play. To the journeys! —AS (PS Digital copies of S P A C E || Battambang are going out this coming Tuesday, in S P A C E.)
THIS WEEK AT DK WORLD HQ in Phnom Penh, we printed a zine. S P A C E, the first one that’s not digital. Just one copy. To look at it, to see how it feels. Stick it on the fridge, ‘live with it.’ And you know what?
A total flop.
OK. Now, perhaps, you’re thinking, What? They’re writing about their terrible flop?
The answer is yes.
The answer! Is yes.
Let me get a little bit nerdy here, now. About design. About quickly mocking something up and flying it by a few people and seeing if there is something there. Magic, that’s what I’m looking for in this kind of experiment. Does it have the magic in it? Is it really going to do something *cool*? You know the experimenters who design science [experiments] and stuff, they have hypotheses and that’s great, and they use these methods to discover things like The Uncertainty Principle and the Copenhagen Interpretation, which is marvelous. Because science matters, and the approaches it takes towards discovery are *awesome*. But! We are not scientists. We are designers. And our approaches are different. Our approaches start with throwing something together quickly and testing it, FAST. Fail fast, they say. The innovation people. The design thinking ladies and gentlemen. The ones talking about ‘Human Centered Design,’ which, let’s be honest, is just Good Design.
Isn’t that obvious?
No. It’s not. People aren’t used to testing things quickly, they don’t want to run it by someone and look stupid. They don’t want people to say, ‘Hey, you know, you spelled that wrong, dude.’ Because why? Because people take things so personally! You know, you gotta lose that if you wanna invent something cool. You have to just go, ‘What do you think of this crazy little prototype thing that I just printed, and I thought it was great, when I was laying it out, on InDesign, but you know, once I printed it, ooooh. It’s just sooooo off the mark. OMG. But that’s okay. That’s just my personal response. What do you think? What does this thingy do for you? Does it move you, in some way?’
So of course I took it along last night to my first social outing since 2001. Okay, I’m kidding, but you know. Going out for a drink, seeing what’s going on. Making smalltalk, my least favorite thing to do. And enjoying it, somehow. But also, sharing this little printout. Does it move you, in some way? There were a few people that seemed to be interested, to be intrigued. Watching how they responded, that was cool. I learned something. The things to note, I noted. Put them in my heart, let them sit for a night, see how it feels the next day, when I start all over, with a new file, and totally rewrite the damn thing.
Prototypes and improvisations
BEBOP JAZZ artists and improvisational theater people are probably the ones who get this idea, the most, when I start to go there, in that direction of… well, whaddyou think? I dunno. Because we are jamming. You have to have some creative confidence around this, sure, I get that. And it’s like this, a chicken and egg thing, because how do you get confident about a thing if you never actually get in front of anyone to talk about the thing that you are making? Jeez! Again!
And so, this prototype is a fail. It’s okay. I’m cool with that. I’m just redesigning, like mad, today. I’m happy. It’s gonna be better, as a result. Whatever is the point of printing anything if you never test it first? I see the ego in the vanity publishing industry and I feel sad that so much paper is getting wasted. People give me the books that they have written, and this normally would have seemed like, you know, a thing that would make me go, ‘Wow. You published something.’ But you know what? I didn’t read their books. I quietly left them behind, wherever I was. I gave them away. I wondered if those people I forwarded the books onto have read them. Bad writing? Maybe. That’s some of it. Ego? Sure. I hate the idea of self-publishing, mostly because it means you never collaborate with anyone, you just sort of do it anyway, all your way. [Uh, like blogging here.] No offense to our team members here who are self-publishing just about everything. But not printing it, mind you. They’re not printing because the life of the story is still in prototype phase… people are still reading, and sharing their thoughts. There is no final final yet, to anything we are making here, not yet. We’re not that old yet. We can take our time. This is fine. Go slow. Enjoy the journey of discovering your way towards something that is better, even better, than what you have just printed.
Yesterday, this printout.
Tomorrow, the world.
(Or, at least, a more thoughtful, more human-centered, better-received printout. Yes?)
Next in S P A C E
LET ME PUT some links here someday. Things like ‘innovation,’ ‘design,’ ‘chance encounters,’ ‘ideation,’ ‘systems thinking,’ ‘validate your ideas,’ ‘get to 50 ideas first, please, before you go and do the second one, by Akira Morita‘, et cetera. I need to finish writing my checklist-book, ‘The Quality of Space,’ and make it more of a how-to because the doing is what makes design interesting and good, there should be design doing seminars not just design talking or design thinking, but the budgets are for people to make design thinking seminars and not zine ateliers (which are really just mini moments of experiencing the design process, you see? By hand, in real life, in person, with HUMANS). Oi.
But you know what? First I have to get back to this S P A C E zine. I have to print it. I have to get it looking and feeling right, before I take it to Singapore, and hand out 8 copies to the 8 people who will together, with me, make the next S P A C E. Some of you reading this online in other parts of the world might also be curious about becoming part of our S P A C E programmes. Check out our calendar, if yes. Prototyping a few other kinds of things, there. Exciting stuff.