Stories

‘Don’t just document: make art’: photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh

One of my favorite photographers in the world agreed to talk with me about the art of making street photos, back in 2018. I loved that conversation. It was so, so fun and delightful.

S P A C E makes space for that kind of conversation–it meanders, flows, and is a sort of exchange that you wouldn’t have any way of guessing what the outcome would be, from the start. I met the artist whom I got to know over instagram then in person, then I asked if I could talk with him for a bit and maybe even record it. It was my first foray into ‘podcasting’. I didn’t get too far, to be honest. I felt less and less interested in hearing my own voice but yeah, the people that I’m lucky enough to get to meet, wherever I go in the world (or surf online) are quite fascinating, at moments like the one in this conversation you can see… how… artists… think. Wait. Think is the wrong word. Feel. [deleted]


In this frank conversation between Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli and portrait photographer Benjamin Nwaneampeh, we talk about how to get started, the culture of wanting things *now*, equipment, style, the city, and the art of peoplewatching.

‘Forget what people are telling you what street photography *is*,’ says Nwaneampeh. ‘Just go out and take photographs. If you like your pictures, and you feel you’re maturing, you’re growing in it, then just keep doing it. Just keep shooting.’


[deleted] … and then I think… yeah. It’s mostly about that. Mostly about art, itself. Why it isn’t just documenting whatever. Why it’s about seeing. Seeing seeing. And what that means, to each of us. In conversation: that’s where you find things out. At least, that’s where I do.

This one, we recorded together.

You can listen to it.

Here’s a link.

https://soundcloud.com/designkompany/make-art-1

Thanks;)

Interviews · Stories

‘In the Margins’

DK Director Dipika Kohli & Napisa Leelasuphapong talk art, design, and curation, in light, honest and easygoing conversations at the library and garden spaces of the privately funded contemporary art space, Bangkok CityCity Gallery, Feb. 2020.  

This is an excerpt from one of our 2020 issues of S P A C E, which was called S P A C E | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’. Find it in our online store, here.



In the Margins


Words Dipika Kohli
Editing A. Spaice
Photography Napisa Leelasuphapong

A friend of mine who studied narrative ontology once said, ‘There are two kinds of stories. Someone goes on a trip, and, a stranger comes to town.’ In Bangkok in February, I think we had both, in one sitting.

I, a stranger, came to town, but with the help of people who got me started thinking newly, we all sort of went on a new trip. Together. That is what happens, sometimes. Especially in S P A C E.


 


The setting: mid-afternoon, hopping off the MRT for Lumphini Park and strolling through the expensive-looking neighborhood to the place I had arranged to meet the team of Bangkok CityCity Gallery, which is a privately-funded contemporary art space.

It’s the kind of place you don’t really know about unless you specifically are looking, but if you go once, then you probably go reguarly, to see what’s changing. I found myself changing, on this trip. Here’s why. Professional, long-time Bangkokian curators who’ve spent their careers on the work of bringing art to the public, super cool, and I, got to chat, together, about what exactly that even means. A show called ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’ was about to close at the time of my visit.


‘If I don’t put myself into it,’ says Napisa Leelasuphapong, the Bookshop Library Manager, who put together the show, ‘then it’s not that interesting.’


Talking was easygoing. Simple. The mostly-empty table where we sat was by the window. A glass of water was offered. A pitcher of ice water reflected all the lights. The shadows of the decal of the title of the show fell on the surfaces, floor, edges, chairs, tables, anything, through the shift of time. An afternoon went by, like this, and I took these kinds of visual notes, while we listened to each other and asked questions that made us all think. And pause.

At these obtuse angles, I was reminded all over again of why I love relational aesthetics. Us, in the room, together. Us, with this show. The show, with us: the copy on the table, the title of this show. Shadow. Light. Exciting, just recalling it, reporting it here. (‘Last Copy’ was, curiously, the first show in the library space. Following our fun, light, and agenda-less drift of conversations, I left the last copy of DK’s limited edition set of four issues of S P A C E | Rīga, ‘Drift’ with Leelasuphapong.)

A leafy neighborhood


The gallery is in a leafy neighborhood that is quite easy to walk around in, which is nice, when you are in Bangkok. So, getting back to my just-for-this-week home, which was a 10-minute walk from there, I thought it over. Sitting on the balcony of the second-floor room, in this wooden guesthouse that is built around a giant tree in a tiny courtyard, and run by an elderly couple who gave me a semi-deal, I really went through the feelings.

What it was, was the same kind of thing that happens when you go very far from home, and come back, and look at it all, again. Sitting there, on that nice outdoor spot poking out into the limbs of this very sturdy, old, and wise tree, I again considered what was around me, relationally.

(The couple, their story about coughing and how, no, no, it’s not the virus, ‘He just went to Phuket, see, and smokes, and drank too much!’, so no need to fret about ‘coronavirus,’ as we all were calling it back then.) Did I fret? A little. Did it matter? Not that much, in the end, fortunately. Sure, I did have a slight fever and a sniffly nose, but I slept for two days and it got better. It was hot. Very.

 

Focus


If I don’t put myself into it, then it’s not that interesting, she had said. I kept going back to that. Wondered if I could talk to her some more about the show itself, and not just generally about art and curation, this time. Could we?

In Open Space, which is my favorite style of hosting dialogue roundtables, you can have ‘breakout’ spaces when you want to dive deep into a specific topic. You just arrange another time, another place, and set the theme. So we did.

This time, we talked in the garden, continuing exactly from where we’d left off. Students of design, aesthetics, and art, like us, tend to veer towards the philosophical quite naturally, I think.


‘I studied for a master’s degree in Visual Arts, major in Graphic Design in Belgium,’ Leelasuphapong explained, after first finishing a bachelor’s in industrial design, in Bangkok.

‘The class in which the teacher asked, ‘What moves you as an artist?’ that I mentioned was an optional class. Most of the students joined in the class were from [the] art department. I’m a graphic designer who’s interested in art. :).’


I could relate.

Discover the full story

Read the full story when you order the issue from our store.

Here’s a link.

http://gum.co/space-bkk-lastcopy

Thanks:)

Papers · Publisher's Diary · The Muse

10 May | S P A C E S H O W

See how we make S P A C E, the zine. A live performance of just 40 minutes. Typing. Designing. And fielding your questions. All in real time



About this Event


What is S P A C E?

An online writing-and-design-and-generally-creative circle for community. Ambient community that is. International and asynchronous. More than 120 issues of our zine have been created through ongoing conversations with our guests and collaborators.

Writing. Sharing. Making. New stories. Together. In S P A C E.

Watch how we do it.

A live presentation without audio, just the screenshare, over zoom. Of InDesign and how we make S P A C E. In 40 minutes.

Registration required.

Here’s a link.

https://www.eventbrite.com/events/153442499647/

[update]

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/s-p-a-c-e-s-h-o-w-tickets-153442499647

Thanks.

Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · WORK

How to avoid ‘boreout’: engage with actual creative people doing actually creative things

Dear F and L

Wow. Thank you both so, so much for the conversations this week. I really appreciate it. I had forgotten how nice it is to sit and talk, at length, without interruption, in English, to highly creative and talented people who know and value me and my work. These are a lot of buttons that got pressed in a beautiful moment, in which, I think, I remembered something.

Namely: a composed feeling.

A feeling of comfort. Of safety. Of connexion.


In short, harmony.


 

 

 


To go where we go isn’t to ‘discover,’ for me, now. I think that chapter of S P A C E is finally finished. After wandering the world popping into 27 countries and staying in some for six years at a time, gosh, that’s crazy, and finding out the things, I realize that the time to ‘keep looking for things’ has necessarily come to a punctuation mark that looks more like

.

Than

;

 

Or

So yeah! I’m done traveling, lads! Not just because I can’t ’cause of the pandemic and stuff. I’m just… I’m done! I forgot to tell you. I got on another call this week, too. Which was far less exciting, but probably only because the value of seeking (philosophers appreciate this, and so do CEOs who care about what I find out when I go on these jaunts to agendalessly and free-formedly look, listen, and discover). Many people, too, have shown support for this effort by taking me up on one or another offer posted at our ever-changing #spacethezine crowdfunding campaign. Why? Because I do what I say I will. And* I don’t quit in the middle. Which is why I am very, very choosy about what I say ‘yes’ to. ‘No’ is more important to learn how to say, I feel, because more ‘no’ responses to non-interesting propositions leads to more focus and awareness of what to say ‘yes’ to. For me, I always say ‘yes’ to S P A C E. I’ve always wanted to have a magazine of my own since I was 12.



I was telling V. about it, how I wanted a staff and an office in like London or something. I have a virtual zine now, and I print what I want when I want on photocopiers. Why? It’s so simple. And the digital archives are good enough. Fine. No need for an office in London or a staff. I can do this. Because… I just can. DK is DK and does what it does and how it does it. Why make S P A C E? Mostly, because I feel like it. I go where I go because it feels rightest. Enter The Book of Five Rings. Exit The Book of Five Rings. HT SHR. And now, I’ve just returned from both an overnight trip as well as something else. A clarification journey. This week has been the week of going through the notes that I have written by hand, here in Vietnam, this last year and some months that got tacked onto that ‘calendar year’ thing that is always such a big deal for those of us who like to ‘reflect.’ I mean, gosh. I have all these giant lists of things that I have designed for, and optimized for, in my life-to-date. Well, I’m pretty intentional about what I do, and what I don’t do, and that’s what makes me me, aka, ‘DK,’ ‘Design Kompany.’ That is nice that that name is still working out for us, isn’t it AM? Lucky that.

Thanks to the new learnings from Vietnam and my collaborations here with a few (and my dead-ended collaborations [deleted]…together.) Ergo. The new thing. Harmony. Soon. Or when I finish it. I’ll tell you. I made a new mailing list, by the way. Link at the end. I’m not going to spam you guys now, sorry about all that.


 


Staying still now. It’s a good time to go through the digital archives. And put together writings that spell out useful bits and pieces that are original, and based on my own personal reporting from 20 years in the field and 4 in journalism. Doing this now. The goal is to package information in ways that are useful to the people who are curious about how to do things in new ways, try things without being too scared of outcomes, and get past the inevitable hurdles when you fail. After numerous attempts to ‘give it a go’ here in Vietnam to make projects happen (giving up, eventually, because it’s tooooo hard), I am doing something different now with DK and our weekly e-mag. Now, when people ask me, ‘Why do you make S P A C E?’ I will say: because of ‘boreout’.


Let’s talk about it. This is what Wikipedia says about ‘Boreout’… Source: Wikipedia page on Boreout.

‘Boredom boreout syndrome is a psychological disorder that causes physical illness, mainly caused by mental underload at the workplace due to lack of either adequate quantitative or qualitative workload. One reason for bore-out could be that the initial job description does not match the actual work.[1]  This theory was first expounded in 2007 in Diagnose Boreout, a book by two Swiss business consultants.[2]

‘Symptoms of the bore-out syndrome are described by the Frankfurt psychotherapist Wolfgang Merkle as similar to the burnout syndrome. These include depression, drive and insomnia, but also tinnitus, susceptibility to infection, stomach upset, headache and dizziness.[1][3][4] The consequences of boreout for employees are numerous both psychologically and physically and more or less serious. On the psychological level, boredom, dissatisfaction, and permanent frustration gradually lead the victim of a boreout into a vicious circle. They gradually lose the will to act at the professional level and at the personal level. To the loss of self-esteem is added the constant anxiety of being discovered. The boreout victim lives with the constant fear that their supervisor, colleagues, or friends will discover their inactivity and duplicity. The confrontation with and enduring the unsatisfactory situation leads to further stress that paralyzes and strains.[5]


‘Being constantly confronted with the emptiness of their professional life and their uselessness in society, the employee is in great pain.


‘The suffering all the more accentuated because it cannot be shared and if it is, is not understood… This can lead to serious mental disorders such as personality destruction or even depression or suicide. Boreout is also a trigger for physical diseases such as certain types of epilepsy caused by stress or exhaustion, severe sleep disorders, hand and voice tremors, shingles, and ulcers. On the physical side, according to the British “Bored to death” study, employees who are bored at work are two to three times more likely to be victims of cardiovascular events than those whose employment is stimulating. The permanent anxiety in which the employee lives exhausts him physically. Fatigue is constant despite physical inactivity. Boreout can lead to eating disorders such as untimely nibbling or loss of appetite. Some people may use alcohol or drugs to overcome their discomfort and thus develop a harmful addiction.



‘In 2018, the internation company Interparfums was ordered to pay the sum of 50,000 euros to Frederic DESNARD (France) to the labor court for “no dismissal” resulting from “the existence of moral harassment” with a “practice of sidelining”.

‘According to Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin,[7] the absence of meaningful tasks, rather than the presence of stress, is many workers’ chief problem. Boreout consists of three elements: boredom, lack of challenge, and lack of interest. These authors disagree with the common perceptions that a demotivated employee is lazy; instead, they claim that the employee has lost interest in work tasks. Those suffering from boreout are “dissatisfied with their professional situation” in that they are frustrated at being prevented, by institutional mechanisms or obstacles as opposed to by their own lack of aptitude, from fulfilling their potential (as by using their skills, knowledge, and abilities to contribute to their company’s development) and/or from receiving official recognition for their efforts.’

Source: Wikipedia page on Boreout.

 


 

How’s this for a ‘value proposition?’… Avoid burnout and boreout. Be a part of something that actually engages you, intellectually and creativelyWelcome to Design Kompany…. The new journeys begin… here.

 

 



*Unless it becomes ridiculous in the middle because of, say: toxic relationships, boring people and lack of creative vision, power struggles, intimidation, racism, misogyny, the usual gamut of dumb stuff that is the whole set of reasons why anyone leaves anything when they wake up to the fact that they can change stuff if they feel like it. ‘If you don’t like something, change it. You are not a tree.’ Who said that, I wonder. I always liked it.

'S' is for Sincerity · Innovation Consulting + Design Thinking · The Muse

Atelier S P A C E: ‘Sâu sắc, không hời hợt’

… Và có lẽ ta nên dành ít thời giờ ở trường đại học làm đầy đầu óc của sinh viên với các nội dung qua các bài giảng, và nhiều thời gian hơn thắp lên sự sáng tạo của họ, sư tưởng tượng và khả năng giải quyết vấn đề của họ bằng cách thật sự nói chuyện với họ.

Mục tiêu của bất sự phát triển của bản thân cũng nên tập trung vào tăng trường bền vững dài hạn chứ không phải lợi ích ngắn hạn. Trong kinh doanh chẳng hạn, ‘hack tăng trưởng’ tập trung vào tối ưu hóa tài nguyên cũng như tạo ra khách hàng tiềm năng. Nếu hoạt động kinh doanh của bạn là một cái xô và khách hàng tiềm năng là nước, bạn sẽ không muốn lãng phí tài nguyên bằng cách đổ nước vào một cái xô bị rò rỉ.



 


Phương pháp? Atelier S P A C E:)) Đây là những gì chúng ta làm…

Giải quyết vấn đề, khả năng đối phó với sự phức tạp và giao tiếp. Nhiều chuyên gia trẻ thiếu các kỹ năng mềm và cứng cần thiết để quản lý và thực hiện các dự án một cách độc lập. Tại Atelier S P A C E, mục tiêu của chúng tôi là giúp thu hẹp khoảng cách kỹ năng đó.’

Xem thêm: chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

A Philosophy of the Moment · Miscellany

‘What’s it like in Vietnam, DK?’

Since I’m in Vietnam, I think it’s a good time to tell you a little bit about what I’m seeing, and how I’m experiencing, the pandemic, from here.

First, it’s weird as anything seeing news. Especially about what was happening in the United States in January. I mean, whoa. It was troubling, and that’s a very light word. I was reminded of being in Ireland and learning about the attacks on the World Trade Center. I remember that very, very well. Recently, thanks to making a new online profile on the business networking site LinkedIn, and, through that, resuming and restarting dozens of newly rekindled connections, I found the very folks who were with me at that time, in Ireland. Back then they had asked me, ‘Are you okay?’, and this time, we got to download a little about this year’s bizarre spectacle Stateside, too.


 

Ho Chi Minh City

Living very far away

Certainly you think about many things being very far away from the culture that has been familiar but which you chose to let go of, as best as you can, because it doesn’t ‘fit’ you. This is an abstract idea. Then again, what about DK isn’t abstract? ‘Kay, cool. [deleted] Continue reading “‘What’s it like in Vietnam, DK?’”

A Philosophy of the Moment

Why I zine

Many people ask me why.
I found this fun thread of people talking about magazines. Today. And really liked it. I’ll put some of what I found below.
I’ll call out sections that I personally really relate to. I’ll use formatting… Like this.
The whole thing is online…
Find the link that contains the below, and more, in full context at Quora, at this link…
S P A C E the zine, Saigon January 2021

‘In 2011 Time magazine reported about highbrow magazine creatives congregating in a ritzy New York City bar for to release zines they made in their free time. When staff writer Meredith Melnick asked the creatives “Why,” Vanity Fair’s digital design editor Hamish Robertson spelled it out that “I’m the biggest fan of print in the boundaries that it creates, especially because my day job is working on the web. Too many people think that you can just let the page get longer and longer on a website, and while that’s true, it doesn’t always make it better.” Claire Heslop, creator of The Sun Shines on it Twice, quit blogging to return to zinemaking, explaining to the Winnipeg Free Press, “[Blogging] didn’t really work for me, I didn’t get any enjoyment out of it, it didn’t feel satisfying. It’s not the same as having a real, small, colourful and crazy interactive piece of something that somebody made by hand for you.”

‘In an interview with ABC News in Melbourne, Australia, Thomas Blatchford, a volunteer at zine store Sticky Institute**, explained this motivation further. Contrary to what skeptics have convinced themselves of, according to Blatchford, zines have “definitely become much more popular recently” in part because “There’s some horrible people on [the Internet.]”

‘I too have noticed how behavior on the Internet can be quite “horrible” so I sought out to understand why. Reading on the screen triggers very harsh reactions in our amygdala. The amygdala are the neurons that yank our control away from our thinking brain and tell us that we are under attack. The amygdala anonymously writes reactive comments all over the Internet without consequence that range from intolerant and uninformed to downright cruel and abusive. This is why print is a safer and better place to learn. Dr. Faith Harper, who holds a PhD in counselor education and supervision, says “Like handwriting instead of typing, anything that slows down our communication process is inherently more reflexive.”…


S P A C E the zine, Saigon, March 2021


‘If someone takes the time to respond to something written on paper, it’s done out of love, respect, and the desire for a connection, even if it’s constructive criticism. Pam Mueller, a Princeton researcher, demonstrated that people actually learn more and are more thoughtful when they write letters by hand because they synthesize their thoughts instead of just repeating information. Or as Blatchford puts it “People like to know that when they’re sharing something, there are often going to be likeminded people reading…people feel a sense of trust within the zine community.”

‘Zines are a place where ideas can be nurtured as they develop. As Gillian Beck says in the documentary film $100 and a T-shirt, “Zines are one of the only mediums where people care enough to give feedback and criticize your work” and it’s because we are all part of the same community, with similar goals. The technicalities of zine-making take a backseat to what you’re trying to express, whether it’s something that you need to purge from yourself by writing, or creating art that you don’t have another outlet for, or information that you feel needs to be broadcast.

**DK was in Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier for two years, in Melbourne in 2019 and online in 2020. They like zines, and we make them: sometimes especially. It’s a fit.
Experiments in Expression · Papers

3 May | Call for Papers

Papers is a way for people to explore ideas together, in a nonjudgmental safe space with a seasoned editorial team headed by Dipika Kohli at DK, to guide.


May 2021 Register at: http://call4papers.eventbrite.com/

What is Papers?

An online writing-and-design-and-generally-creative circle for community. Ambient community that is. International and asynchronous: ‘Papers.’

Here’s how it works.

 

How does it work?

No meetings. Just email: asynchronous, international. Four prompts, sent on Mondays at 7AM USEST. Email converstaions follow with your group, in order to develop your ideas, push past the edges of your creative thining, and link you to our international community.

 

Why?

Because we are tired of superficial, inane chatter and want some actual depth, progression and substance in our online converations. That’s why. Four weeks of amazing online conversations with a max of 4 hosted by DK. More than 120 issues of our zine have been created through ongoing conversations with our guests and collaborators.

Writing. Sharing. Making. New stories. Together. In S P A C E.

Advance bookings only. 

Register online.

Here is a link:

http://call4papers.eventbrite.com/

Thanks.

16N · Relational Aesthetics

Dear D

Bongiorno.

It’s been a hell of a morning, D. I know you probably are like, why are you writing me a letter on your blog? Well. That is the nature of ‘N’. And I am inviting you. Starts here. The picture? That was me with a ticket from ‘N’ London, hanging out at a pub there, no wait, Sheffield, it was, right, just there, just talking to no one in particular, and, well… waiting for people to ask me, ‘So, what’s that?’, so I could invite them. Haha. (Yes, I do things like this.)

The journey of ‘N’, which began in 2014 in Phnom Penh, involves this sort of brute-force method of simply doing something, in this case sending point-blank invitations like this, over and over and over and over until you get it to ‘take.’

On the shape of uncertainty

I must have invited 116 people to that first ‘N’, and in the end we had a lovely group of opting-in people who made our 16-person blind date one of the most memorable ones of the lot, so far.

‘N’ photo by guest of ‘N’ KGM

 

Who comes to ‘N’? A mix. A surprise. Every single time. And that’s exactly the beauty of it.

The people who come to ‘N’ are exactly the right people. I’ve hosted this in Bangkok, London, and Copenhagen (kind of), and so, now, here I am. In Vietnam. Again. Did it once, in 2017, in Hanoi too, forgot to say.

It’s not about who’s the most this or the most that. When I make these invitations, and yes, there are a lot of them, there is one thing that all the guests who say ‘yes’ will have in common. They are curious people. They want to know what it is. They want to take a chance. Maybe just once, this year, ‘go out of my comfort zone,’ as so many people tell me. ‘N’ is something people talk about, or hear about, and it changes some of us (me, included) and we go on with our lives like, Huh, that can happen.

In a world overwhelmed with communication channels but void of deep relating, in my opinion, I made ‘N’ because I wanted to host a space for people to really be there, together, really and truly in a way that I love: which is simply being there, being included, being seen and heard, and being welcomed. Welcome. That’s me: welcoming you to ‘N’. Not just you. You and about 30 people I have mentioned this to in Ho Chi Minh City, of whom, I hope, 4 will say ‘yes.’

One of them I met in the very place where I met you, for example. Another I just wandered in to her place of work and struck up conversation. This happens often for me. I did this also to invite the guests who are part of that 30-person list and today we will close the registration because I like advance bookings and if I know everyone personally I will host it at my house. Cause yeah. Personal. And I will make snacks. If I can find out what dietary preferences… and that’s why, too, I like to have plans in advance… who is coming, what will we make for them? Planning and anticipating, for me, is as much of the fun of making something happen as the thing itself happening. I guess that’s why I love ‘N’ so much.

And why, you may ask, is it it designed like this? All ‘just once’ and for ‘just four’, and stuff? Because: personalizing it, and small scale. I like that. It’s usually in semi-public space but I am getting tired of public spaces in Vietnam and my house has a semi-public spot in it, the Common Room, which is where I’ll do this. There is also some art. Art that isn’t mine. So yeah. Come and talk to us. It’s just… people showing up to talk. Together. But briefly, and once.

Want to join us, D?

It’s tomorrow.

If yes, email me.

Cool.