Good evening from Ho Chi Minh City, ladies and gentlemen. Let me share with you the mix tape, ‘See you Saturday, maybe,’ featuring a few musicians I’ve gotten to listen to often and sometimes even chat with in real life (remember when that was a thing?) about art, composition, intrigue, and sharing.
Every time I hear the Cambodian mix I feel a little homesick for one of my more recent ‘homes’ (I have a lot), namely Phnom Penh, hence the song I’m including from Justatee about the feeling of wanting to go home. it’s a good mood, suddenly, listening and feeling. Of course I have to end it all with Punjabi tunes.
Since I’m big into relational aesthetics, I have to acknowledge all the people I was thinking about while making this. HT PS, over in Chandigarh, or?, somewhere thereabouts. Mixtape, ‘See you Saturday, maybe!’, dedicated to my friends NDS, aka DNLD on Soundcloud. And VT. Cool. Thanks, too, for MM for inspiring me lately. And of course MD and AM for always listening when I need to talk. And CS. Gosh. I have a lot of people I can count on in these difficult times. Lucky me. Special thanks of course to Boss. And SJ, who told me to blog more and write what I think, which I appreciate. Though he probably isn’t reading this, I want to say, ‘I hope you are safe, there.’
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.
“You will never understand the feeling of being a Black man and woman in America,” James said.
“Everyone jumps on the bandwagon of what we provide, what we bring … the way we dress, our music, our culture, our food.
“Everyone steals from what we do and then they want to act like they did it. We don’t get … anything back for what we’ve given to this country besides a slap in the face.”
So much more to explore on this topic.
S P A C E | Decolonization
I’m asking academics, writers, artists, activists, thinkers of all stripes, geophysically distributed and also socioeconomically, too, I think, to weigh in on this subject
Putting on my old reporter’s hat, this year. Amazing guests in DK’s online programs last year have inspired this new theme for our focus and study, in an invite-only project that’s about Decolonizing Education. (Finally! Someone is going ot write something that I’ve been looking to read, and pass along, to young people to read, too) A People’s History of the United States, for example, did you read that? It gets recommended often, to me, and I’m fascinated there isn’t more around.
Currently some of our team members in Papers are at work discussing deeply some of the more systemic arrangements that have led to this. Decolonization is a big theme, so far, in Winter 2020-21’s collection, S P A C E | ‘Reality & Trust.’
More on the way.
Get in touch with us to let us know your interest in supporting this effort. Here is a contact form.
PS Ask me about the bifurcation diagram, sometime.
Interesting first segment. Of an article that I found about why the role of ‘discovery’ is so important for innovation. Design isn’t just pixels. Design isn’t a bechance portfolio. Design isn’t a ‘sick’ or ‘boss’ social media feed. Design is a tool. For making things that make us live more happily, that’s what I think.
This article had one item that really stuck out, for me. (Disclaimer: I don’t know them, so I can’t vouch for their work, and no one asked me to post this for them or paid for this link.) The article is by some people who talk about innovation, and I liked that they put ‘discovery’ in there, in their list, right at the top. The article is called:
How Can Innovation By Design Be Implemented?
Innovation by design can be implemented in eight simple steps:
Discover: The is the step where exploration needs to happen. It is time to find out what consumers’ unmet needs are. The best place to start is choosing a specific topic or area of interest and then gathering data.
Reframe The Topic: Once you have started down a path with a topic or idea, you need to take a deeper look at it and find any insights or patterns that you can. Throw out any assumptions that you may have about a particular problem, or the solution to previous problems, and reframe your point-of-view.
Incubate: This step takes patience. You need to unleash your creative side by doing things differently, looking at different stimuli, and acting accordingly. Let the idea grow…….
There’s more, steps that continue this, very straightforward and the usual things that people in innovation consulting will say. But yeah. I liked this part at the top.
Of course you can take things to the next level once you have had time to discover, think, and look at a thing you are studying quite deeply.
One of the more interesting parts of being in Vietnam since February, somehow getting more and more accustomed to the idea of it, is that, um, I’m starting to understand Vietnamese.
Okay, it’s cool that I got some help with that, like, real life and exchanging language and conversation in a casual, light way, but also, it’s relaxing to be able to pick up on a few lyrics for songs now. So when I’m out and about and I hear something that catches my ear, I ask about it. ‘What is this? I want to know!!’
Edges and reaching beyond those edges..
You start learning a new language and all kinds of things start to appear in your midst.
Slowly learning by osmosis..
And people I meet really love it when I say stuff to them like, ‘Well, I’m your neighbor,’ or ‘Did you guys meet at work?’ I think it means a lot to people when you make a basic effort, and I’m finding that I can do a lot with just a few phrases to ease more fluidly into a place that, seven years ago when I first arrived in Southeast Asia and Hanoi for the first-ever time, um, I was like, completely unaware about anything really meaningful. Now I can see even when I curate the mini-mag S P A C E for stories set here that there are things that are culturally significant and worth sharing, and other things that are just what tourists would quickly snap and leave having snapped it. you know what I mean?
There is more to say about that, see the stuff below at the end of this post about ‘decolonization.’ I mean, well, no, ask AD. I will put more together about how we can arrange that in some future conversation in S P A C E when I get to that, in early 2021, after finishing up our stories set where I am right now, which is Ho Chi Minh. Another month for Atelier S P A C E // HCMC, and then… maybe make a move to another part of the country. Or. Depends on our crowdfunding. Let’s see.
The mixtape is called…
O S M O S I S
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC
all… around… thế giới
‘Đi Về Nhà’
I kind of just really adore this one. I really do. I don’t know what it is but it just makes me feel good vibes. The theme is ‘home’ and going there and going when you feel all kinds of feelings. Good ones and not so good ones, you can just ‘go home.’ It’s a nice idea….
‘Vì Một Câu Nói’
A pretty voice, I heard this and got intrigued. Especially because I could understand the line that repeated over and over again, and stuff like that. I thought about going to see this person who is going to be in HCM in concert very soon but the idea of sitting in a room with a ton of people with their smartphones out taking video doesn’t sit right with a music-lover like me. I’d much rather go to a small venue where the people who are there really want to just listen, and not get caught up in recording everything and themselves so they can tell everyone how ‘cultural’ they are. I found a new local venue that I think fits my criteria for that, and got to now a couple of kids who love jazz as much as I do, over there, a few nights ago. Well, well. If it wasn’t a pleasure getting to hear Sonny Rollins coming off strong on the very first number! Wow. Made my whole year. HT T, K, lookin’ at you.
‘Kẻ Mộng Mơ’ Reddy
I got to hear this one and really admired the song, the voice, the earnestness. I think there is a lot of emotion in the male vocalists I get to hear on these occasional bouts with getting to see, um. Karaoke. Even if I can’t understand everything I really love the feeling of just being swept away in someone’s heartfelt telling-it-all-and-laying-it-out-there. Up in Dalat, when I hung out on one of my last days with DSP, he told me that writing Vietnamese lyrics is really hard because of all the things that you have to pay attention to with the ups and downs of tones and stuff. I guess that’s something that people who grow up listening to English lyrics really never had to consider as a technicality to building something song-wise. You know, writing this down here makes me feel like I’m some kind of musician, or something. I’m not. I just like what Iike. Is all.
‘Hà Nội Mười Hai Mùa Hoa’
I have to put this one in, because it’s something that VT told me about. We were talking about ‘culture’ and all this kind of craic as we used to call it when I lived in Ireland (and became very much a fan of Irish musicians, songs in Irish, people from Cork and the songs they gave us, and many more stories related to stories, pints, stories, and did I say stories?) Music and stories and time together. What else is there?…. Yeah..
Anyway! Aside from this one about the seasons of Hanoi which takes you into a different kind of space, in the way it feels when you leave HCM and go to HN, perhaps, because of the abrupt formality you kind of walk into, well, yeah, aside from that, the songs above came from those, ‘What is this!!!’ kinds of questions that I put to people like bartenders, baristas, and fellow guests of whatever place I happened to land in.
Winging it, and making S P A C E..
I’m still in the city of Ho Chi Minh, still exploring and making forays hither and tither to discover, and share, what I find curious and interesting and the people whom I meet, too, to invite them to co-create with me. Always a fun task. Most people don’t want to make a commitment and that’s okay, but it’s my work to show up for the people who want me to make space for new thinking to invite itself into… well, S P A C E. Discovery and design our our themes. Let me expand a little.
ATELIER S P A C E // HCMC. Part of DK’s work is to discover and insist on making and pressing out S P A C E. I know. That’s a lot of vagueness. Still if you are familiar with DK, you know what I mean. We make S P A C E for the new and different to engage and interact with themselves, in a flat hierarchy not a Western-lens thing that tells you what to think about everything. I am working with my good friend AD in the cloud, in Papers, on a zine about ‘Decolonization’ right now so it’s on my mind, this idea. Anyway! So here I am, writing to you, the Internet, an those who read this blog, about what I found out. In case you want to know what contemporary Vietnamese choosers-of-music like to hear that isn’t that old school stuff that is like only just the old love song stuff. Besides that, what is there. That stuff makes me so sad. So I enjoy these things. One is a rap. Really fun. HT VT, QN. Fun ha.
This year kinda reminds me of my life in Kyoto, years ago, when I started to study Japanese. This was my favorite part: going to independently study, by renting CDs from Tsutaya, and singing what I could at karaoke. Those were fun days, and these are, too. I’m recalling what it’s like to slowly get wind of things, by osmosis. You learn. That way. A lot. Loving that the words I know keep showing up, words about ‘home’, and ‘us’, and ‘dream’, and ‘together’, and ‘happiness’, and stuff like that, I am happy when I can ask what a thing means and understand what is written down. Coolio.
So many things are happening simultaneously that it’s hard to feel the feelings, see the things that need to be seen, and make the decisions, or watch them happen.
So I understand, from ambiently and osmosis-ically?, I like making up words sometimes, haha, so I understand from being here and observing, day after day, morning after morning, the churn and whirr of the routines in this neighborhood. District 3, in HCMC. I’m in Vietnam. This is turning into the [deleted]. But many, I’m sure, are doing this same thing.
Not sure what’s going to come, and not being able to plan are things people are sharing with each other. I know. It’s not like I’m really eavesdropping but I can kinda tell. Maybe it’s the 27 countries I’ve visited and spent bunches of time in, including the seven years and counting in Southeast Asia, to date. Um. Long story I could launch into here, but that’s not really pertinent.
Uncertainty is like… being a fish on the chopping board.
Start liking seafood and fish sauce… is what someone on the /vietnam subreddit wrote. I. Think. That’s. Good advice.
More to share, but not now. I want to give our new acquaintance time to find the way back to emailing with me about the things ahead. I am thinking about starting an inbound tourism company, too, by the way. I can. I have some ideas. I even have some osmosis-experience.
Lol. I’m just trying to cheer you up, O.
I met O. over a conversation that started with a thing about me having to fork over USD 990.
Good thing I have… a job? Wait. I don’t have one of those. I have DK. DK is where I am. Existing.
Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’
New opportunities in a virtual setting..
A. Spaice talks with Beck, one of the organizers of Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier..
A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?
Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.
A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?
Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.
The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.
We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.
A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.
Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.
So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.
A. Spaice: And… Covid?
Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.
Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.
We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.
With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.
It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.
FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.
Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!
A. Spaice: Does it cost ?
Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.
A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!
A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!
A virtual zine fair..
We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.
Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.
So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.
I just submitted my application–sent!
Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.
So, our agenda for December is this..
Discover new voices here in Vietnam to make S P A C E with
Design and publish 4 new issues of S P A C E in Vietnamese & English
Tell the world about our S P A C E programs in Vietnam if we get selected to participate in Festival of the Photocopier in 2021’s virtual event
On the same day as the festival, we’ll host a real life event. A reading. It will be from the issues we make here in HCMC this month. We’ll have an Atelier S P A C E // HCMC launch party. It’ll be a chance to share our printed zines with the friends here who are creative, imaginative, able to think out of the box, and ready to try new things who have helped us so far to make some cool and fun issues already. I have a good feeling about the series to come.
I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]
Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:
And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..
If you make zines
Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week…
Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!!
As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.
This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!
Bảy yếu tố của shibusa là
sự giản lược (simplicity)
sự tuyệt đối (implicity)
sự khiêm tốn (modesty)
sự im lặng (silence)
tính tự nhiên (naturalness)
tính đều đặn (everydayness) và
sự không hoàn hảo (imperfection)
The seven elements of the shibusa are reduction, implicity, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness, emptiness & imperfection.
Sự giản lược quý phái của shibusa là sự biểu hiện tinh tế về bản chất của các yếu tố trong một trải nghiệm thẩm mỹ mang tới sự tĩnh lặng. Sự quý phái khiêm nhường là điều hiển nhiên trong sự thanh thản u buồn với một chút lấp lánh.
The aristocratic simplification of the shibusa is the subtle expression of the nature of the elements in an aesthetic experience that offers tranquility. Humble nobility is evident in the sad serenity with a hint of sparkle.
Như các thuật ngữ mỹ học Nhật Bản khác, iki và wabi-sabi, shibui có thể áp dụng cho nhiều đối tượng, không chỉ là nghệ thuật hay thời trang.
Like other Japanese aesthetic terms, iki and wabi-sabi, shibui can be applied to a wide range of subjects, not just art or fashion.
Shibui (渋い) (tính từ), shibumi (渋み) (danh từ), hoặc shibusa (渋さ) (danh từ) là những từ tiếng Nhật chỉ một khái niệm mỹ học đặc biệt về vẻ đẹp giản dị, tinh tế và không phô trương.
Shibui (渋 い) (adjective), shibumi (渋 み) (noun), or shibusa (渋 さ) (noun) are Japanese words for a particular aesthetic concept of simplicity, sophistication and unobtrusive.
Shibusa là một sự xuất hiện hoặc trải nghiệm được làm phong phú lên (enriched), được làm dịu đi (subdued) của phẩm cách tốt về mặt bản chất với cơ cấu về hình thức, liên kết và nỗ lực, mang đến một sự tĩnh lặng vô tận.
Shibusa is an enriched, subdued appearance or experience of intrinsically good dignity with a structure of appearance, association, and effort, providing an endless silence.
Shibusa bao gồm những phẩm chất thiết yếu sau đây:
Đối tượng có shibui xuất hiện với sự đơn giản về tổng thể nhưng chúng bao gồm các chi tiết tinh tế, chẳng hạn như kết cấu, mà cân bằng sự lược giản với sự phức tạp.
Sự cân bằng sự lược giản với sự phức tạp này nhằm đảm bảo rằng vật đó không chỉ gò ép vào một đối tượng shibui mà còn liên tục tìm ra những ngữ nghĩa và vẻ đẹp phong phú mới được tạo nên bởi quá trình phát triển những giá trị thẩm mỹ qua nhiều năm.
Shibusa không nên bị nhầm lẫn với wabi hoặc sabi. Mặc dù nhiều đối tượng wabi hoặc sabi là shibui, không phải tất cả các đối tượng shibui là wabi hoặc sabi. Đối tượng wabi hoặc sabi có thể khắc khổ hơn và đôi khi cố ý thổi phồng khuyết điểm đến một mức độ mà chúng có thể được làm một cách nhân tạo. Đối tượng shibui không nhất thiết phải hoàn hảo hay không đối xứng, mặc dù chúng có thể chứa đựng những phẩm chất này.
Shibusa duy trì một sự cân bằng đồng đều giữa các khái niệm thẩm mỹ tương phản nhau, ví dụ như thanh lịch và thô kệch, hoặc tự phát và có tự chủ.
Shibusa includes the following essential qualities:
Objects with shibui appear to be simplistic overall but they include subtle details, such as texture, that balance simplicity with complexity.
Balancing this reduction with complexity to ensure that the object not only presses against a shibui object, but also continually finds new rich meanings and beauty created by development. aesthetic values over the years.
Shibusa should not be confused with wabi or sabi. Although many wabi or sabi objects are shibui, not all shibui objects are wabi or sabi. Objects of wabi or sabi can be more austere and sometimes purposely inflate defects to such an extent that they can be artificially made. The shibui objects are not necessarily perfect or asymmetric, although they may contain these qualities.
Shibusa maintains an even balance between contrasting aesthetic concepts, such as elegant and crude, or spontaneous and autonomous.
Màu sắc của shibusa là những màu “lờ mờ” (muddy). Ví dụ, trong thiết kế và sơn nội thất, màu xám được thêm vào những gam màu chính để tạo một hiệu ứng ánh bạc, mà gắn các màu sắc khác nhau lại với nhau thành một sự sắp đặt phối hợp. Tuỳ thuộc vào mức độ của màu xám được thêm vào, màu sắc của shibui trải dài từ những màu pastel tới tối. Thỉnh thoảng, một mảng màu sắc tươi sáng được thêm vào để tạo một điểm nổi bật.
The colors of the shibusa are “fuzzy” (muddy). For example, in interior design and paint, gray is added to the main colors to create a silver sheen effect, which binds the different colors together into a coordinated arrangement. Depending on how much gray is added, shibui colors range from pastel colors to dark. Occasionally, an array of bright colors is added to create a highlight.
This one includes some of my favorite songs from those days when I used to have cassettes (including Bollywood ones, yeah). Also, I put something from the jazz genre because I really, really miss hearing live jazz. Soooooo many songs I wanted to put on this mix tape are not available to listen to where I am… here, in Vietnam.
Not available in Vietnam.
So, yeah. Me being me, I thence named this tape: ‘NAIV.’
As to the doctrine of the Circles it may be briefly summed up in a single maxim, “attend to your Configuration.” Whether political, ecclesiastical or moral, all their teaching has for its object the improvement of individual and collective Configuration*–with special reference of course to the Configuration of the Circles, to which all other objects are subordinated.” —E. Abott, Flatland
The book Flatland has been an influential work for DK since we got a copy of it in an experimental high school geometry class that was called ‘Explorations in Geometry’.
‘Learning’, et al
Real learning, what is it? Certainly it isn’t in textbooks, according to me.
To me, it starts with critical thinking. That itself has to begin with awareness: there is something missing. And waking up to a bombshell: the moment you discover that your own perspective, based on the things you’ve been taught to believe, are not necessarily “true.” Plain ol’ experience is staring you down saying that X thing you’ve been taught to believe is true just isn’t “true.”
So what are beliefs, then to us? What are past experiences? Enter J. Krishnamurthi. Just google him. ‘You are the world and the world is you…’ he says…. it’s amazing and articulate and on-point, and so I listened to lots of his podcasts this year.
Waking up to new realities
So getting back to ‘waking up.’ (Did you see Waking Life?) Anyway. The things you thought were true turned out… they weren’t true. You found out one day. So then, the natural next question is. What’s real?
I started thinking about this and made posts sometimes, under the category ‘S is for Sincerity’. Meantime, thinking about what’s real. Thinking: okay. That wasn’t.
So what is?
Dunno. But you can sense… ? Maybe… Well. Okay.
Such awareness can come from things like, for example, multi-country travel, over time, or from growing up as a Third Culture Kid, or TCK. Or meeting and being open to understanding more about other perspectives, even if you never leave your own town. Books, too. Books can open worlds.
I got lucky, personally. My sophomore year of high school I applied to and got in to an experiential learning high school, the N.C. School of Science & Math. It was different from usual school. It’s had a few scandals in the years since I’ve graduated, so I wouldn’t send anyone there, to be honest, but for me, at that time, it was a huge gift from the universe to get out of a rural and provincial school with zero opportunities. One of my most amazing teachers, though, was at that place. She knew. What I was going through. It was clear and plain to her. Maybe that’s why she worked so hard on a three-page single-spaced letter of recommendation. I still remember the feeling. Someone was paying attention and wanted better for me. Someone bold, strong and caring.
I got in. I don’t know who was more happy. Me, or her. HT CB
You got to live at school, which was, you know, the chance to have support and encouragement, from your peers. And teachers.
[Aside: Maybe this experience was why I started making experiential learning workshops for people to explore, in snippets, what I got to, at this school, and probably more meaningfully for me, the summer before that at the Governor’s School East program in Laurinburg, NC. That was what all Govvies know it was, and what it’s too hard to put into words. But I like to create S P A C E for people who have no idea what ‘Govvies’ means to have a chance to simply feel the experience that helps us uncover who we are, without labels or agendas. There were no grades that summer. There were philosophy classes, for small groupings of us, and we sat in circles… so many things.]
Getting to go away to school was, for me, an amazing chance to learn so many things early on, and I don’t mean ‘book learning’. I mean taking risks. I got to take ‘Explorations’ as well as a few other experimental ones: something the teachers were testing for a new course in precalculus, for example, and also, the first-ever section of that school’s Japanese language program. (I went on. to study the language for the next ten years, inspired by my teacher there HT KM.)
Perhaps best of all, I also ran for and won the position to be my school’s Vice President of the Student Government Association. The newness, all around, as well as a chance to enjoy a leadership role before even graduating from high school has richly inspired me, from those years forward, in making and achieving some exciting personal goals.
Georgina Quach writes: ’[Filmmaker] Hong Khaou’s thoughtful drama Monsoon speaks to those of us who have lost our political origins and geographic home, but are now finding homes of our own creation… [It reveals] how home is found in all kinds of spaces; in food, love, place, memory, song and family. Returning to the site of your childhood can release a complex barrage of emotions…’
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC is an Autumn 2020 project of DK’s that is co-created by photographer Van Tran and DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.
‘Studio Day’ by Van Tran / Ho Chi Minh City, Oct. 2020
.. this page used to be a notebook for a grant application that I was going to apply for…
There are so many important questions that pop up when someone who knows how to ask you if the thing you’re making is deserving of wider attention can ask.
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC’s collaborating team is loose and changes, and the people who come bring what they like to the tables. We started to share more there about ideas, mostly philosophical things related to space, time, distance. A-ha!, that’s it. Questing.
The lead story for this issue is ‘Bờ Biển 1999,’ or ‘Seaside 1999’. It’s by Quân Nguyễn.
This story is in Vietnamese and in English.
Special thanks to DS Phong for editing.
Two images made by Boss are included in this issue, too. Cover image is a show of new works that is a collaboration to make new kinds of zines and art books. This project is led by team members of Atelier S P A C E / HCMC, who are, so far, Văn Trần and Dipika Kohli.
Feature writer: Quân Nguyễn
Quân Nguyễn writes about his reflections on visiting his home country while returning to his life abroad, in Denmark. On his way to Aarhus, in this quiet moment, he looks back on childhood, and recalls a friend. A dear friend, whom he has not quite lost touch with as they maintain a digital connexion. Yet, somehow, he feels far. A short flash fiction work, in both English and Vietnamese.
‘The history of print, publications, and zines is deeply rooted in political movements and societal change. Now more than ever people are finding inspiration and community through artists’ publishing.As a platform for the dissemination of such publications, VABF’s mandate is to provide accessible community-focused public programming and inclusive platforms to deepen engagement with artists’ books, and to connect local and international communities.’ From the organizers of Vancouver Art Book Fair, in a press release. [Emphasis, Editors at DK]
The practice of publishing is not the process of putting a final and unalterable object into the world, but a practice of offering a substrate for emendation, revision, call-and-response, iteration and the birth of new texts. A series of provisional thoughts about the poetics, politics and pleasures of the unfinished.
More about this and other things VABF is doing at their site: