Today has been a remarkable day. I would say more, but it’s kind of difficult to express a thing when you sense it, deeply, from somewhere that resides well outside of the realms of ‘intellectualizing.’ Verbalization. Articulation. The wordsmiths of our time are equipped with the tools of this trade, trading in ‘ideas.’ I guess I’m kind of one of those people, usually. I’m learning, though. Thanks to the place where I was when covid struck—I’m in… a different world. There are things to say and more to say after those things are said, but beyond everything that is spoken, I think, the learning is this.
Must say more about this. Perhaps in the new LinkedIn group, Papers | Cojournal. If you’re on that platform and you’re reading this blog from time to time and you were curious but not sure how to inquire further or, *gasp!*, take part, well. That’s there.
Disconnexion vis-a-vis Real connexion
Done. With internet. I think. For a while; I go through spells. I go offline. I turn things off. I reboot. I stop talking to people I don’t know and pretend, like I told D. today, that I’m in Sweden. Because in Sweden, you definitely don’t go around striking up random conversations with people. Haha, I see JE laughing out loud reading this if he still follows this blog, from northern Finland. [Yo, I made some amazing sandwiches yesterday. Really good. What you said stuck. I thought of you saying it. Thanks.]
What the hell am I writing about Sweden for, you ask? Well. I have to entertain myself out here in my one-year-and-counting journey of Life in Vietnam without Any Idea of When I am Leaving or to Where and When I Will See Someone Who Actually Knows Me Longer than 6 Months. Which reminds me of… Malmoe. No I did not study abroad there.
I just went there. For no reason other than a deep desire to be very far from everyone I know and to be quietly alone. Often. Daily. If I could get away without uttering a word to anyone, that would be grand altogether, like, to use a West Cork expression. Lived there. Three years. Wrote about it in The Elopement. Man. I met two Irish people here in HCMC and they were both, disappointingly, incredibly… boring. I said so, too. That’s not nice is it. But they were, though. See? This is why I need to pretend I’m in Scandinavia.
I took the picture above in Malmoe. It was at the harbor. I stayed there for a while, just kickin’ it. Took this shot on one of the days towards the end of my time there because… because… you know, I like to wait until I get a feeling for a place before I start photographing it. Which is why I cannot stand those instagram [deleted]… that bug… [deleted].
Of course [deleted]. And of course, therefore, I want to refrain from doing such, because, guess what? Most people have [deleted] that I am interested in. Truly. I’m so, so over [deleted]… in a country that is cold… then there was the sauna. Dead of winter. No better time.
Had a good conversation on the pathway to places today. Now I will think it over. It’s nearing 10pm, the Western Hemisphere is going to work. And I’m going to sleep. Good night, then. Good night from Ho Chi Minh City. Where I am, currently, with, perhaps soon, perhaps later, a different iteration of things to come. Internet things. I think. With the space where we make S P A CE, namely, Atelier S P A C E. Er. Yeah. File under: Book of Feelings. Thanks very much to those in my inner circles who have helped me explore this topic. Deeply, not superficially. You know who you are.
Melbourne-based Sticky Institute hosts its world-famous (amongst us who make zines, anyway) Festival of the Photocopier next week. DK will be in it! DK was there last year in the real life version, thanks to our collaboration with a Melbourne based teammate that year, Nicki Duncan. For 2021, we’ll launch a very special zine collection. This time, it’s made with those with whom I’ve worked with us closely over the last six months in 2020 project online, DK | Interactive Papers Project.
I love sharing the work they do, in forums like zine festivals. It’s fun.
Cool to be able to take part in the 2021 Festival of the Photocopier. The idea of a virtual zine fair was something that got my curiosity when I first heard they’d be doing this online. So we reached out to them, and wrote an interview-style post to share more about how that got sorted out, internally, behind the scenes. Read it here.
S P A C E | Decolonization
I’ve seen a lot of zines, ladies and gentlemen. They’re about [deleted] and everything under the sun. For this coming festival, we’ll make a very special zine collection set, S P A C E | Decolonization. So many things to say. Saying what we we feel. Putting those ideas, images, stories, narrations, discoveries, and what we’ve learned–together—into the 16-page PDF format that is S P A C E the zine. For those who want to know how to educate themselves on this important topic. I’m learning a hell of a lot, personally. Which is always a nice perk. Actually, you know, writing and sharing on topics like this… it’s pretty exciting.
Today was extremely quiet; except for two things. A parade. And a long period of gong going. A going gong.
Hm. It was really fascinating hearing the latter, last night, waking up to it. Yeah. Strange how a sound can take you back. I remembered Japan… about twenty years ago, when AM shuffled me out of his parents’ house at roundabout midnight, in the cold, with an air of adventurousness and conspiring together between us, to the closest temple. In order to do one thing. To hear the New Year get rung in. This was in Tokyo. Snowy. Cool. A new coat. A best friend. Warmth and comfort and a sense of beginnings. A different lifetime, a different mood, a different moment.
Now it’s Lunar New Year, or Tết, not the January 1st Western calendar year for New Year … that I got to celebrate more than once… even this year, 2021, in a fun, light way… at New Years, or, Oshogatsu, in Japan. I think we drank something kind of warm and extremely stiff. I still love that time of year, in Japan.
This time is different. I’m not having mochi and I’m not in the innermost, smallest circle of just the dearest-and-nearest to me. Not right now, I can’t be. Physically. Even emotionally. So many kinds of borders are closed, and that’s that. Accepted it. Right. Now, with that, I get to sit still and enjoy this peace and quiet as there is no traffic. I repeat. No traffic. This, in Saigon, is bliss. So yeah. I’m just here, on my own, thinking about things, reflecting on the years and years of being with people, elsewhere, and at different times, in life.
[deleted]… Anyway, who really wants to go to an Indian restaurant just to be mistreated? Not me. Fact is, that’s why I skip most things.
And, like, also going… to the United States.
What an understatement, like. Ooh, there’s my Irish accent now. West Cork, so. [deleted] These are the things. Today. For now. Happy New Year, from VN.
This post is for NM. (I’m going to re-email, since that one bounced, and I want to send you the PDF, ‘Home.’)
Find me on LinkedIn and send me a message, if you want to join a virtual Zoom call that will see a maximum of six guests. This is a chance to meet new people from DK’s network. An international network, and not just full of ‘like-minded people,’ which I find to be extremely short-sighted, and rather boring. I went to Eastern Europe in 2019 to round out my own understandings of what ‘Europe’ is, and that was gritty and tough and difficult in many ways because it wasn’t the manicured tourist-friendly, dollar-loving streets of [insert any major globalized and no-longer-able-to-describe-itself-uniquely because of course everyone looks like a hipster from that cutout stuff you find online, you know what I”m talking about Western European city]. Plus, racism. Dumb.
Anyway I’ve enjoyed building my international conversations over the years, and value so much the safe, comfortable, and remarkable exchange of ideas. Amongst people who actually care about that. About wanting their lives to be more, for lack of a better word, interesting.
C said once in a green back-alley restaurant in Hoi An, ‘Most people are boring.’
My eyes grew wide.
‘You can find good friends,’ he continued, ‘in books.’
Celebrating journeys, waiting, sharing, spacemaking, discovery and the place where I am right now…
This issue is dedicated to Atelier S P A C E // HCMC Creative Lead Van Tran, and to S P A C E contributing member Kan Tomizawa.
Both brought to light many facets of the reality of simply slowing down, waiting for things to arrive, and letting yourself disengage from the Western intellectual’s drive to ‘be productive.’ That doesn’t always lead to anything, and sometimes, simply waiting… does, and can.
What’s this issue about?
From September-December 2020 in Atelier S P A C E projects in Ho Chi Minh City, Tran’s direction brought us to new places in S P A C E that involve slowing down and noticing that which surrounds us. In conversations in Phnom Penh in 2015 or so, plus continuations in the virtual spaces since then, it was Tomizawa’s dialogues with DK about ideas related to art, making it, and not getting too worried about what happens between now and later that led to the title for this piece: ‘Kekka ga ato kara tsuite kuru.’
That’s the theme, for this week’s issue of S P A C E.
In closed threads, behind the scenes, here at DK, I’ve been reporting on the difficulties of trying to do a ‘zine’ here in Vietnam, or anywhere really. Zines are for going against the normal way of everything: they’re not overly designed, or overly polished, and the ideas within at least for me, in my way of making them, are about standing for a thing that you care about. That means having something you really love.
This is the problem: most people don’t know what they really love.
They go around and around and they try to grab at things.
But what about the things they love?
I know this is not a blog about personal development; I’ve longago abandoned that path of ‘motivational speaker’ even though I accidentally did a TEDx talk about how ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’, back in 2012.
Pretty funny, hindsight, hey.
Here is the video.
Now, if you are reading this, and you have heard me [deleted]… ‘look at me’ generation of selfie-takers and how irritating that is to me, well….. yeah. I did this.
This was 2012, so before the internet got all crazy and the Society of the Spectacle hijacked real life the way it has today. I guess, yeah. It was cool to do it. Show up, as me. Say what I wanted to share.
It helped me reach a few people, connect deeply. That, to me, was always the goal of everything I made. Writing articles for my two newspaper jobs, for example. Or designing things for wonderful clients over the years I was in Seattle, for another example.
I’m coming back to the internet, now.
I’m doing more things online.
If you got the invites from me today, from the platforms, well.
More is on the way.
Hello Latvia. Hello Finland. Hello Ireland, and my friends who hit ‘connect’ in those places. I appreciate that, so much. Also: Cambodia, Australia, Denmark…. Invites have gone around the world. To Germany. To so many people whose paths have crossed with my own.
People who I find highly talented and creative and resourceful and insightful and whose art inspired me and influenced me.
It’s amazing doing this kind of very preferential networking, today. I used to be way different, when I was younger. Anybody was fine, to ‘connect’ with. Not anymore. I’m highly discerning. And I think it’s that thing that helps me know which side of the line I want to categorize an old contact as that makes me who I am. I know what I love.
I love improvising and conversing with people who shine.
They, together, have been my ‘neighborhood,’ a world neighborhood, from whose carefully attended lectureships have taught me a universe of ways of building bridges.
I’m ready to apply now what I have learned from ambling the world, 27 countries, countless hundreds of miles of walking around. I’m not religious, but doesn’t it seem like one hell of a quest? Finding myself, or whatever, isn’t what it was about. It was about. finding… us.
The us that is between us.
‘The It Between I and Thou’
My old friend MA in Seattle had taught me about M. Buber’s idea of this thing, ‘the it between I and thou.’
What’s between you and me is hugely important; it’s a thing. It’s not a thing in capitalist places but here in Vietnam I feel it more deeply each day, the importance of a unity of ‘us.’ A chúng ta kind of vibe, you know? Yes I have to learn Vietnamese. I have to. What the hell else can I do to be understood, and communicate?
Deeply, not superficially.
The following are a few of the S P A C E issues we made at Atelier S P A C E // HCM (HT those many people who generously donated USD$800 to that effort! I’ve updated our crowdfunding page to reflect new goals, for Outer S P A C E).
I want to make an issue of S P A C E available to anyone who wants to read it. It’s just too good not to share. It’s called ‘Humanity’. The author is my good friend Michael Bridgett, Jr. and the photographer is another dear friend, Nils don Sihvola. Both are part of my international community and help me think, write, and most importantly… feel.
Feel my feelings.
Want the issue? Email me.Today I feel free. I’m proud to be back on the internet again. And reconnect with my old colleagues, friends, clients, and associates in a new United States of America. Gosh, you know. There’s so much work to do.
Let’s get started.
One designful moment, at. A. Time.
HT JE, CS. So cool to message today! Surprised? Me, too.
Photo of Dipika Kohli by OMNI Studiophotos, Durham NC 2012
I’ve always disliked mainstream magazines like Vogue…
Forever, I’ve been cutting and collaging them.
Never did they feature people who look like me.
But today, I saw this.
Isn’t this cool???
A handful of my closest friends from high school who might read here will know with me why I think the Vice President look is so great. 😉 😉 ‘Cause yeah. I was VP of my student government at NC School of Science & Math….
Since 2013, DK has been based in Phnom Penh. Our studio has been commissioned by large NGOs to do things like ‘innovation consulting’ and ‘design thinking’ projects. Clients include the United Nations Development Program, Development Innovations, and CARE International, for example.
I don’t have the low-down on what those things involved, specifically, because my teammate there in that city, Akira Morita, has handled everything for DK in Cambodia. That includes all the deliverables, networking there, and fielding queries so that I can focus on what I’m best at.
Doing things right, versus doing the right things
Namely, researching. Mostly by field testing. By doing things like guessing what I think might work and trying it. Like a chef in the kitchen exploring new recipes, or a jazz musician playing with others who love that music, I like to play with materials and collage stuff. Words and image. Papers. You can see some of that in our new portfolio for Atelier S P A C E, on Behance. (Here’s a link: http://behance.net/dipikakohli.)
But why is this important?
Because we—collective Humanity ‘we’—together need to turn a new page.
Space that is, not just like, overwhelmed by one mode of thought, but is by design made out of multiple angles and perspectives. This is no longer just feelgood politically correct ‘diversity’ stuff. I remember someone telling me straightfaced about an experiment where people were made to sit and talk to ‘a diverse person’. What is a ‘diverse person?’ A person with lots of different things going on inside of them? I mean to this person who told me it just meant, I think, non-white. So yeah. General systemic problem, here. How about this, though. How about finding ways to make better dialogues than just ‘diverse’ and ‘non-diverse’ people talking in pairs? Mmmhmmm. Enter S P A C E.
Doing it well takes some experience with this. Sure. Sure it does. It also takes willful participation (hence our tendency to go for self-selecting things, instead of grant-funded things because those, you know, are [deleted]). More things you need: curation and deliberation and intention-setting and work.
But when you show up, it feels good, and it flows… effortlessly. At least that is what I always hope, when I invite people to be part of the workshops and ateliers and other things that we do, here, behind the scenes. See: http://designkompany.com/create-with-dk
I love S P A C E
S P A C E is fun. S P A C E is light and also self-styled for self-discovery. Where does learning happen? When you find out something that you didn’t know, for yourself, that is true for you. Many artists I know resonate with this because people who make things are dancing in the margins of what ‘society’ says and they also are working out their feelings through their art, I find, too. I’m always happy if someone I discover becomes part of our conversations to the point where I get to ask if they want to co-create with me, in S P A CE. Like my friend Ilyas Kassam. I loved making an issue of S P A C E with him. Here it is, pictured on his website:
I like making this kind of stuff so much.
‘Curiosity is my best friend’
Because it’s curiosity that calls us, to explore S P A C E further. Outwardly. Expansively. S P A C E kind of insists itself into the more socially accepted patterns of ‘doing things like this.’ The status quo needs to be pushed out, challenged. Because… cool stuff can happen… there. That’s what we did, making this issue, pictured above. It was all about expanding our boundaries and using the technologies at hand, too, to make it interesting. He said I had a ‘tech touch.’ I liked that !
That is of a quality that invites, and includes, very new angles, and perspectives.In order to invite the new. Curiosity is my best friend.
Obviously, that runs in contradiction to some of the more rigid, Type A styles of ‘doing business’ in Asia that are, well, let’s be really direct, shall we? More about power games, hierarchy-establishment, manipulation, and power harassment that comes up when you’re highly influenced by a management style that say, is from… well. Lots of places. It’s the norm, isn’t it? Sad.
I quickly exit from any encounter that feels icky in this way; they’re not interested in new thinking, new starts, new angles, and new ways of making because they’re really only interested in shining a light on… themselves. [deleted]
Have you heard this one?’
Some people, to feel taller, cut off the heads of others.’
Jealousies and stuff. Waste. Of. Time.
Those kinds of people get in the way of making cool things. And keep life boring and troublesome, because it’s not about celebrating the best of what each can bring, it’s about squashing actual creativity before it becomes a threat. You know what I mean? Gosh, some of my friends who worked in corporations know, and tell me. I’ve got a lot of friends in corporations, so I hear a lot of stories. Especially now that they’re all coming out of their prime years in their careers and realizing… it wasn’t really worth it. Years older, more tired, less excited, less jazzed.
They look at me and go, ‘What the. How did you…’
Not fall into the trap?
Who. Didn’t. Get it.
That included family members, old ‘friends’, and ex-colleagues who turned out to be sociopaths. Not even kidding.
Life is fun, huh?
I like this jpg:
Colorfully more, and more together
Instead of wasting time with the naysayers, the scapegoaters, the narcissists, the gaslighters, the weirdos, the ones who hate you just because you’re you, and the rest of them who resist actually becoming better versions of themselves because that’s too hard, I just write. Every. Single. Day. I type 103wpm. [Earlier in this post, up above, I linked to this, where you can actually hear me typing, in my Soundcloud called, Hi2.]
I used to write for newspapers, and now I just write S P A C E. I love discovery, and I’ve been discovering a hell of a lot, but it’s kind of nice, sometimes, to put on my old reporter’s hat and look things up and find out more and then, actually, like, write something about it for others to read. So I’ll do that more, this year. After all I have the experience. I was an editor for four years, half that time for a daily in Seattle, and the other half of that time for an alt-weekly in southwest Ireland. These places were where I learned to brainstorm, discover stories, and get fast at writing something that told a story people could learn something from. Now I just add to that, with my own take on things, and my own design style. In S P A C E.
I still do Q&A’s sometimes, too. A few examples are thisandthis. I save the best of them for S P A C E. For our Spring 2021 series on Innovation, or whatever the title becomes closer to then, I’ll expand on some of the past articles, for example:
Opposite of fostering a culture of innovation are things like top-down management style, over directing, not listening to others, and pretending to be a big-shot like you know what you’re doing. You can’t really learn how to open up to new ideas if you’re just trying to validate some broken sense of self. That’s normal, with narcissists, and narcissists drive our capitalist society.
They usually, the ones close to me?, try to take credit for everything I do. Pretty lame. But they try to, and later, I find out, and just kind of, well, chuckle.
Figure out your own stuff, and make it happen, for you.
Join S P A C E
I do that, with my friends, sometimes. Make those kinds of moments possible for self-discovery and exploration.
Or if you want be part of something ‘in the future’, you can make a donation to our projects, and let me know to keep you informed. You can do that by selecting the option that lets you get messages from the fundraiser, that’s me. And you’ll be kept informed of messages from me with exclusives on how to get invited to projects in S P A C E. I’ll only update those who are interested, and indicate such by doing the things I ask you to, in this paragraph. More from there.