I am plugging in, today. I am rested, happy, energized. I have been in good communications with the handfuls of people who, near and far, ‘get’ it what I am up to here. I am researching and discovering that I have a ‘thing’ to share, a ‘thing’ that is an actual service-product-good thing, that is. I mean, what I am saying here is, I finally came up with something that is not just Art Project #423 by DK.
I mean, wow.
I thought the ateliers and workshops were ‘real services and goods’ that would do the thing everyone told me I had to do. Solve their problem.
‘How is this going to make my life better? And how is it different from what’s already out there?’
Dammit, I said. Let them figure it out! Can’t people see quality?
‘No, DK. They can’t.’
No, they actually are too overwhelmed, by this many words, even, on a small post. For me this is really short, ladies and gentlemen. This is like. This is like, well, a memo.
I write a lot. A hell of a lot. Most of it is terrible. That’s fine. That’s how we get better. And now I understand that my offering for the people who want to take part in the process of writing or creating and getting into the throes of it, whilst falling down and stumbling and wondering what you see when your face is next to the earth and grass and caterpillars and stuff like that mix into your viewpoint and you go, ‘Huh. There’s other stuff, then,’ and your nonlinear inquisitiveness takes you on another train, another plane, another adventure, and another beginning.
‘It’s too… smart for me.’ ‘WTF? You have a PhD!?’
Today I am following up on the 47 invitations I made to people who have been quietly observing, I think, or paying attention on my email threads, because they sometimes signed up for stuff, and sometimes said they wanted to, and I am a follower-upper, because if there is anything I learned from 20 years of doing it yourself, it’s that, you just gotta keep saying, ‘I care about this thing, and I’m starting it.’ Like four people will go, Cool. They show up. I love these people.
And then, a few years later, you say, to the ones who didn’t but were kinda thinking about it, you say, ‘Man, you know what? This is getting cool, and I would love you to take part.’ Some more show up. That’s nice. This is when it feels like it’s blossoming, a bit. I have a lot of people to thank for this second tier of joinment. And yeah. Then, then things iterate, develop, build, you take into account the complaints and you factor in the praises and you do both things with a grain of salt. Then you make a cake.
And when you have it really ready, like, honestly good and ready, you make a landy-page-y thingy
The next things are next
Lessons from 7 years of iterating… well, okay. I’ll save that for the first email, from this very brand new list. Let’s see who wants to come to the table, have a conversation with me and a few others, in virtual space.
HT M, S, F, and… J. Thanks for showing up. Long spells and breaks are, I guess, kinda normal. Still, when it’s important, I know you will and do.
Show up, I mean.
Means a lot to me.
KE, still on for the partial differential equations convo. Hit me up? I can’t wait..
I am on the road. I was writing and thinking, taking it in, slowly. The things. The very many things. It has been some time but I have circled to places I have been before, and been recognized, quite surprising, this, on the street, at the bus station terminals, you wouldn’t believe it. But the thing is that no matter we go, and whom we meet, whatever distances we travel, however worn our shoes, the truth is, and this is really starting to become a shining star in the sea of black: people smile.
People smile when they see someone they haven’t seen for a while. ‘I remember you’ is there, sometimes in words, sometimes in gestures, or a great wave, like the one I got a few days ago, from someone who likes to sit at a bench at a particular place in a particular street at a particular time of day. In a city I had not been in for two full years. Yet there we were. Chance got me back there, or something. In this moment, exactly this one, with his very genuine smile, authentic and wide and almost like he wanted to get up and hug me because isn’t that what you do, when you see one another again?, in this lonely, large existence?, it was just right there and then with the humidity all a glut and yet!, there and then, I woke up, seeing all this, to the beauty there is in all of humanity. Which centers on this:
We are curious.
About each other. We make way when we are in the way. We give and we learn, and we pay attention to the traveler-teachers, whose ways are those that remind us there are still journeys ahead for all of us. I’m writing this today for AW, but also, for CW (C, I think I lost the note). Same ‘W’. I wonder if they will read.
But it doesn’t matter.
This is what I’ve learned, writing Kismuth, along The Way.
Well, that sounds like something to expand on. Maybe it’s time to write another book. [I’m 32% finished: HT F.]
Update: In the fall of 2019, DK and a new team of friends and co-creators will be posting and sharing about ‘cross cultural design’. The ways we communicate when we are in places where we do not yet know how to articulate ourselves eloquently, for example. A summer 2019 stop in Latvia was, for example, one of these ‘lab’ explorations. We want to update this post to reflect a little bit about how it felt to be there, grasping for meaning, in a world so very different from DK’s own (‘post-Soviet’, et al).
YESTERDAY I HAD the pleasure of meeting a smattering of very creative, industrious people at a publisher’s ‘conference’ organized by some people who have ‘conversations’ in their name. Now, if conversations are in their name that means something. So of course, us being conversational types, DK had to go and show up. The first presentation was so dull that DK had to go outside, and pretend to be getting a smoke, in order to pass so many people so obviously, but the slight rain and fresh air helped a lot to take the edge off of what was an ostensible advertisement.
Having the impatience to not go through advertising things in captivity, DK went outside for that phantom smoke. And met… M. (Hi!). And M’s girlfriend, soon thereafter. Both were very kind and looked over our zines from Riga and I hope they will read ‘Janteloven’ from Aarhus because it is pretty good. I gave them the e-link and stuff to get it, and it should be downloadable as a gift, with that, if I got it right.
Lately more gift-giving. More about why, below. After this next section, about Photomonth.
Discovering Rīga Photomonth
While bored with the first presentation, I did what Dan Savage used to do when the Seattle International Film Festival rolled around in Sea-town. I did a ‘DK’s picks’ kind of a thing. Borrowed some scissors and rudely cut loudly while the conversation was dead and lecturing at us, and made a shortlist of things I want to go and check out with the wonderful set of options for Riga Photomonth, next week.
The opening week is scheduled for 13-18 May, but the official opening will take place on 15 May at the Museum of Occupation of Latvia.
S P A C E investigates, with our field notebook, these events, and so I will show up, I think, personally, to see what I can see. Needed to put them into this calendar, so I have a way of knowing where I should be when, because these programs can be overwhelming to use, and sometimes, when the information design isn’t quite… well, isn’t easy to get a hold of because I think some major things are omitted, here and there, which I only learned because I went t the website to see what things were there and then, yeah, I had to make my little shortlist because who has time to do everything? And I want to see this selfie thing, ‘Lurid Self’ by Honeymoon High, the most. I so do. But also the opening party. That’s gonna be where I start, I think. But yeah. You can find the events in our ‘events’ section that DK picked, or you can just go to the website for Rīga Photomonth, and browse the many, many options and pick something for yourself. But we all know how hard it is to make decisions, so I did the above shortlisting for those who like the aesthetics of DK and will probably like what we had a first-glimpse impression of and said, ‘Yeah, that.’
More about the event. Here is what the organizers say:
Rīga Photomonth is an international photography festival that takes place in the capital of Latvia since 2014. Rīga Photomonth explores and shows photography from Northern and Eastern Europe. The festival’s public programme includes exhibitions, artist talks, workshops, lectures and film screenings. In addition Rīga Photomonth hosts portfolio reviews and workshops for professionals.
Let’s see what happens.
Gift-giving and gift-receiving
Why give gifts? Because wow. What goes around comes around, sure. And in recent days, I got three lovely gifts, myself, here in Riga, since I landed. First, a comic book. Next, a painting. By Z. Amazing work. Then, some purple flowers on a simple stem, the very ones I was admiring earlier that day, and they were given to me without any hint of shyness whatsoever (how refreshing) by a young lad who could look DK in the eye. That was sweet. I put them in water, as he instructed, and got off at my floor. The work is coming into shape, too. The presents are making me more present, if you will. I like writing when I am drinking a lot of things: water, milk, and coffee at the moment. I am also in the throes of a new book. I haven’t been this inspired to write in flow like this since 2015 when I was at work at the French house (not really a French house, but occupied, and I do mean occupied, by five Parisians, which was a headache, for me, personally, in that they didn’t get it that one who writes stays home to write when everyone else is leaving and doesn’t have time to run errands because ‘you look like you have so much free time,’ ahem), well, yeah. Okay, rant aside this is the story about Rīga, right?
So yeah. Yesterday. Was good. I met so many people I wrote a bunch of notes and promised myself I would do a complete writeup on the outpourings of wonderful feelings that come when you show up in a place that is ready to receive you, ready to entertain your wacky suggestions of conversation salons (like that time I tweeted to P, ‘I have an idea’), and things get to happening when you get responses. (If you don’t get responses, you have to stop taking it personally, I learned, and move on to where you get them. In this entire country, jazzy as it is without knowing that, or how post postmodern it is, and teaching me what the hell that even is, by simply being it, and cool about it, so cool in that it doesn’t even know it, or profess to be anything, which I think, ‘undefined’ is the whole thing about PPM. And we did have some weird converstions int he salon, ‘Postmodern Nomads,’ but they dwindled to a natural ending and I left them there, closed that door, opened this one, and whoa.) I’m in the world of things that are new and spirited, at least to the underinformed eye. With this eye, I take the pictures, and put them into S P A C E. The third issue in the series S P A C E | Latvia is almost done. I wrote the story last night, and today, and tomorrow, and probably the whole week to come, I’ll work on it more and more until it’s ready. But then, another week, and another issue. Such is the life with a weekly e-mag. Shazam!
TOOK THE TRAIN to a side city in Latvia, just to drift about. Landed in a tourism office and got into a bit of a prickly conversation: some people who might be reading this will remember me talking about ‘the boxes,’ yes? If yes, that story, put into a short short play, is part of the new issue of S P A C E, which I just printed and spent the afternoon folding, collating, and making into the 4-issue limited edition set of couture zines. Yes, I sewed them, so they are now officially a wrap. It feels good to see these cookies in a four-set, probably for the last time, as I am going to share the pre-ordered issues shortly and in a bit. I’m excited about this. Besides the side story mentioned above, there are new photographs from the train journey, new writing from Zafar Imran, which was inspired by a conversation some two dozen years ago (plus last week, with IB. We talked. A lot. Improvised.) Zafar Imran’s very short story, directly inspired by I, what she told me, a generously shared jazzy insight, and the dialogues between Zafar and me since and well before, is called ‘Love is Boring.’
It is the lead story of this highly visual, graphic issue.
And now… enough drifting. Let me go see if I can find some dinner. Mashed potatoes and zupa, maybe. Mmmm.
But before I log off here… I recommend this one, if you have to choose just one from S P A C E. It’s the rightest, I feel, of the lot so far, in that it does the work that S P A C E sets out to do, namely that of packing together all that was learned in recent days into a tight, fixed short set of things (MD once called it ‘a digest’) to read and enjoy. It looks good, and I’m so hungry, I kinda wish I could eat it.
THIS WAS ORIGINALLY going to be a protected-page post. I didn’t want to get all corny about this whole DIY publishing thing. The scene. The strange feeling of having a thing that you want to share, but realizing that no one is readily around to hear it. And wondering if you are really on to a thing, or just think you are, but then, when you hit ‘print,’ it just all kind of falls, click, into place.
Getting to the point where you know how you’re going to approach the first pitch if you’re a seasoned baseball player, for example, takes time. Takes practice. Takes knowing the sweet spot on the bat and how your own personal stance is going to work out so you hit that, more of the time than less. No one bats 1000 but you can sure try to get better if you know yourself, what works, and how you have felt when the homerun gets hit.
But getting here and printing this stuff out makes me feel good: like it’s easy to go to bat, now. These changes have come with experience. They have more to do with the approach to taking to a nomadic life, kind of, on the road, and before that, the call of the road, than I had realized: the creative process is an adventure unto itself.
You go where the feeling takes you, you work it out, you develop the idea or set of ideas that feel rightest, and then, you make the cuts when the thing is starting to take shape. The ‘thing’ being the theme, the concept. It’s not about writing into sentences and paragraphs and making sure it’s all correct. It’s about feeling your way towards what is the mood of that place, space, time, mode, journey, and conversation set. There are no rules to this stuff. I wish that when people want to start talking to me about writing and art that they wouldn’t go right into, ‘What have you published?’ if they’re themselves authors, or, worse, ‘Have you been published?’ As if that means something. (Ask me if I’ve made f–ing good art, and then we’ll have a party.)
Shall I write down the conversations from those kinds of jam sessions, somewhere?
Was thinking of doing that.
What I guess I am feeling as I look at the small set of things that I have brought to show and share here and there with people whom I have found through the internet or in moments, in real life, when the moment hits that I want to let someone read something I’ve written in the past (never current writing, that’s just… that’s difficult, since it’s still being worked out)… well… When I do get to see how people feel when they read, it’s nice. It makes me remember that writing isn’t writing for me: writing is for making a thing that I can share. And that the moment of sharing, that!, that’s the whole point of this journey for me, in S P A C E. Which is ticking along, more or less. Every week since early December 2018, there’s a 16-page PDF that goes out to a small set of people around the world who have been supportive from the start of this kind of project and intiative. Honestly, I don’t know why I won scholarships for studying in universities: the same money would be much better spent, I feel, backing me on these kinds of in-the-field reporting gigs (they’re not really gigs, they’re self-commissions, which is, I think, ‘art’, if, and only if, so iff, they land somewhere, there is resonance…. only then is it really art… and is art for art’s sake the point? I remember debating this when I was 24, in some fancy pants art school, and it was dumb, and not that much longer after that, I was packing up and driving away from the place towards the far, green pastures I knew would await me… somewhere… didn’t know at the time that was going to be, er, Ireland, but yeah…. )
Green pastures and the call of the horizon, the road in general, has always been a temptation for me. I can’t not go. I can’t not see, try, discover… sometimes when I find myself in places too long (Phnom Penh, for example, or Seattle), I get to the point where I wish I could just leave. I mean, leaving is nice, and I don’t have ‘jobs’ to attach to, or a ‘community’ that wants me to stick around. I used to wish I had those things, but I learned, for me, it’s much more interesting to keep it light. Keep ties to a minimum. I haven’t bought new clothes for a long time, and the last time was right before I had to meet some people I had not seen in five years, so my clothes definitely needed an update.
So what does this have to do with DIY publishing?
Contrary to popular belief, I do not write with a conclusion to walk you towards. In fact, most of this is just ad lib. All of it is, in fact. I do not pre-write blog posts, though I think that might help you see that I am, in fact, a serious writer, but I save my best stuff for articles for magazines, like over here, and also for the e-mag S P A C E. Those are the pieces I work out to my best. I give my whole heart to them, which is part of why, also, I publish in so few places. I don’t want things to get out of hand and I don’t care if the world knows about me or just 4 people. It’s fine. The art is the point, and the journey towards making better art is even more important. To me. I love it when I find artists and talk to them about things like this, and we are serious and we are happy to have found one another being serious also where they are, and when we talk about these things, rarely does it go into the specifics of the art-making itself. Rather, we are dwelling on a different cloud, one of possibility and range, one that invites newness, openness, the thinking outside gravitational forces and the usual G. Where it gets interesting is where we can jam, creatively and intellectually and playfully and thoughtfully but also in that spirit of collegial co-creativeness, where all are equal and welcome to the table. I think what I am writing is the exact mood I hope that S P A C E invites people to join in, when they come to events or read our magazines.
It’s getting tighter, better. Clearer, sharper. And it’s also going to end. One day, I know I’ll get bored of it, and want to go on to another project. Not sure what, not sure where. But like Seattle and Phnom Penh, I know I’ll want to move forwards from here. No wistful backwards glances anymore, for me… there are too many things ahead, and too much more to look into. I can’t describe this very well right now because some people are listening to some kind of phone-vid and the music in the background is much less interesting than it was when I got started on this post. But yeah. Things are okay.
I like it that whenever I pass a little cafe place, they have the telly on, and it’s almost always… ice hockey.
TODAY WE ARE SHARING the last of the 12-week set of zines in the S P A C E | Winter 2018-19 collection, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ This was created with new and different others in our digital zine project, S P A C E. The last zine in this set is S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt.’
A new series, S P A C E | Spring 2019, ‘The Book of New things,’ is set to begin on 5 March. This is thanks to crowdfunding support. No ads. 100% member-supported. No endorsements, no BS. Learn more about S P A C E and how to subscribe, as well as see our schedule of upcoming issues to be co-created in S P A C E through June, at our crowdfunding page, here.
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
‘Trust the process’
Special thanks to Joji Minatogawa, a very creative person and an architect. I just added him to our contact page under ‘mentors,’ after clearing it first with him over the phone. I really am glad we can still call around the world and see what people are up to, and let them know that we are still here, still curious, still interested, and very much appreciative of the old conversations that went places. Because now, together, here we are. Some of us are still at it: asking the big questions. Questing one another, and the ideas that might come out for a very special, very quiet, very intimate sort of dance. Now, learning to quietly add the right bits and take out the wrong ones, until further getting that good stuff, the good stuff that’s left. Refinement. I am noticing, reading, listening, and still curious. Thanks for the conversations so far. It’s getting really good, now.
‘Design is making meaning. Art is making connexion:’ A. Spaice
Feature photo: ‘Internet I Hate You’ popup installation by Dipika Kohli, at Noir Kaffekultur in Malmoe, November 2015
In 1996 Michael Haerdter of Berlin’s Künstlerhaus Bethanien called artists ‘post-modern nomads’ or ‘wanderers between cultures’. Migrating artists, he said, ‘belong with the many transcultural messengers of a world whose keywords are nomadism and globalism.’ Goes on to say the fact that we see the invention (and spreading about) of residential art centers relates to the need of artists ‘to experience the world and its many environments and cultures, to realise in situ research and projects, to be temporarily part of creative communities, and to profit from the opportunity they offer for exchanging ideas and know-how.’
‘Postmodern nomads’: new salon
Let’s talk about it. Let’s meet, converse, connect and discuss, and get to places because of progressions and continuity, which can only come with a longitudinal axis of trust-building. Over. Time. Are you ready to begin this kind of trek with us? This one is a build on what we had begun in early 2018, with ‘Notes.’
It’s a special online salon about postmodern nomadism, or whatever else we want to talk about there. Note: eligibility; this open invitation is for those who are new to DK this year.
Starting in March, there’ll be much more to say. In online forums. These happen every week when I share prompts, in our online community, through email. It’s pretty straightforward and it works well, because it’s just a handful of us, for each conversation space. Curated because of the gut-feeling that ‘this works with that, I think,’ or ‘maybe so-and-so would enjoy meeting so-and-so,’ and that’s how t begins. In the style of ‘N’, and other of our events, workshops, ateliers, and gatherings, it’s about who shows up more than it is about what we each have to say… listening is the point. Seeing what emerges. That’s how each topic got started, in fact. Breakout sessions when a certain thread or strand was developing. Asking members and guests-who-could-enjoy-membership-if-they-let-themselves-make-time to weigh in with 2c bits and pieces. The new things are starting. It’s a lot of fun, already, in preconversation salons that are getting things into alignment.
You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.
You’re not to think you know more than we do.
You’re not to think you are more important than we are.
You’re not to think you are good at anything.
You’re not to laugh at us.
You’re not to think anyone cares about you.
You’re not to think you can teach us anything
This is the law of Jante.
Featuring the frank essay ‘Fear and Happiness’ by Aske Pedersen, a member of DK’s S P A C E community who grew up in Aarhus. This and other writings are paired in the 29 January issue of S P A. E with photos taken in Aarhus by Dipika Kohli.
Get S P A C E | Aarhus, ‘Janteloven’ on 29 January, when you subscribe to S P A C E. Subscribe here.
Trying new things. Nurturing our community. Building something real. Together. In S P A C E.
Pictured is a zine, one of our limited-edition ones that DK had made over the summer of 2018 in the long days of light in northern Finland. A bunch were on display for a time on International Zine Day, at our new friend Eveliina Karsikas‘ Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki. I got to know her because of lots of things, starting promptly with a shared interest in bright colors. The place was brand new, and she was just getting going. Being me (but only when I find a place and person that I really enjoy chatting with), I offered a zinemaking workshop, not often done around there. Surprisingly people actually came, we had cake and coffee and made zines together, and colored into miniature zine-coloring-books while mostly just enjoying real life and real time, together.
THEN, the zine traveled with me, north to Rovaniemi.
Which was where I met Karoliina Erkinjuntti, of the curious and talented collective Alice in Northernland. Out of the blue, on a rare whim, I offered her a trade. Could I give her this zine, in exchange for some of her postcards?
She said yes.
So, cool. We were gonna trade our art pieces. I haven’t done that since artschool.
Or maybe writing all those letters, they were like little pieces of art, back in the day between a particular spot in North Carolina and wherever I was in the world. But that was… the 1990s. Still, from those early days of sharing mutually of ourselves and our expressions through our words and papers and collages and drawings, I know that whenever my artist friends trade things with me, we actually take notice of it, and then, it’s valued.
(Aside: Earlier in the summer of 2018 in Finland, another person, an artist from Belgium, a painter, had asked me what I do with all of the things I make because aren’t there sure a lot and I said yes and I don’t know really just keep ’em around mostly but try to share them if I can, too, and she said some other things and then something about burning the works. Burning them? That seems… awfully… well.)
In Rovaniemi, at that moment, in that spot, winding down from my journey through the experience of three very bright months in the most northerly place I’ve ever been, inspired and recharged, I remember it was nice. The feeling that we could get along in this world without something as crass to quantify our works as silly things like green pieces of paper. Or colorful ones, this being euros we were talking about, in Finland… I guess I got into that little argument mostly because of this feeling. That work is work: and money is not a quantifier of what makes something good. Money is just… oh, but that’s another jam.
So big. And we’re so brainwashed about so much of it. ‘Money’s value,’ work, art, that thing’s value… there is a lot to unpack here. I remember talking a lot about this when I first met Michael Linton of Open Money; he was a speaker at something in Seattle and later he and his team consulted with us about brand design, and brand messaging. Which was also a trade, I think, or maybe we just… well I think… it’s not like it matters… I learned a ton from his team. And on Open Money’s website it says it straight:
Money is just information, a way we measure what we trade, nothing of value in itself. And we can make it ourselves, to work as a complement to conventional money. Just a matter of design.
With that short proclamation, which drew sharp intakes and gasps from the hundreds gathered there, for me, the accumulation of green pieces of paper and that’s what I call them, you know, well, yeah, this stuff, which is what some of us have been programmed to think is what is desirable, became far, far less important, and going broke (or below) wasn’t such a big deal or even a point of shame, either. Despite what one might think. What is value, what is work, what is art? This coming Tuesday we’ll share in S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’ some of the gleanings from recent dialogues on the topic of value, work, and art.
Good fun. I’ll save the deeper discussions for the private spaces of our forums. Some of us are already well underway talking together in a forum called ‘Strange Geometries.’ In a small, inner circle of S P A C E. Which of course is what I had promised, at the end of 2018, when the earliest adopters of it joined DK in S P A C E.
A final note: of gratitude. Thank you Karoliina and Eveliina. For trusting me, and sharing your time and art. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s trusting the process. (If you see this, someday, know that I’ve not forgotten our exchanges. Maybe we can continue one day. I’m thinking of getting back to Finland for 2019…)
The zine ‘Miia’ is set in Finland’s Tampere. A continuation of earlier writings by Alexis Jokela. Plus, new photography and poetry. This zine is co-created by collaborating teams at DK. Get it on January 1, 2019, when you subscribe to S P A C E. Subscribe here.
Update: S P A C E members are invited to weigh in at this page.
TWO PEOPLE will know what the title of this post is about. Two. Just two. I met them yesterday. A and T. The question I posed to elicit these answers is a private one, something I won’t share outside of my innermost circles. (That’s just a handful of people, around the world, with whom I connect deeply and talk about ideas with regularly, over time. For progression and depth. More about that in a second. But together, we call this journey, a foray into S P A C E). For now, I need to say thanks. To A and T.
Thank you both for being there, on the rootftop, for sharing with me and admiring as we, who are tenderhearted and questing, the view of the half-moon beneath the clouded, darkened, past-dusk, and past-nine polluted skies and the redness of that lunar orb: vague and yet, alluring.
For the last few years, I’ve been focusing so much on how to ‘design’ for these kinds of moments. So much, that I forgot how to just let the universe lead me straight into them. Which, of course, is how I first started. Running into this: the magic. The art. Oi, but it’s getting big. Already. That’s okay. That’s where the good stuff is.
INTRIGUE. There was the mystery of it that drew me to that exact spot, to contemplate it for a bit. But also: stopping. Standing still, for a moment. Atop the world, there, or, at least, atop Phnom Penh. I’m not much of a going-out type of person, but I’ve made a pact with myself to ‘try new things’ more often, especially in the town that’s been where I’ve been lucky enough to stop for a while and take stock of the things that, for me, have been sieved out to be the clear, wide understandings that say, together, ‘This counts.’
Like I said, there was another moment, in another bar, on another roof, in the same town, on the same topic that you and I, A and T, together, explored. Because I’m a sort of nerd about relational art, I have to bring it up: I have to think about how that thing that was rests next to this thing that is. (Is this reality?) More about that another day, maybe when we all get better acquainted. Continue reading “Reality and trust”→
Discovering, sourcing, planning, sharing, connecting, interconnecting and framing. That’s what it is. To start.
Getting the team together. Organizing the pages without overthinking or over designing.
Leaving room for stuff to develop, other stuff to emerge. Being okay with things taking time. Being cool with letting go of what doesn’t fit, in the collection. Bricolage and collage being my ‘thing,’ along with relational art and the aesthetics around that, which academics write about (thank y0u) but which I, personally, design moments in which me, and hopefully others who also enjoy these things, can experience the ‘magic moment.’
AHEAD. New things, ahead. Grateful for the learning, and the reconsiderations of old things. For the replies to the notes I’ve been sending here and there around the world, and calls that I’m getting to make and enjoy relaxing into, too. For the responses to the poetry, for the notes and the critiques to the Winter 2018-9 collection’s editorial calendar. For the trust. For showing up. For the new rekindlings, deepening of some of what had begun, on my last trips here, and also, for the continued happening-upon new and different others that lands me here, time and time again, in S P A C E. Today was cool. It’s not over yet, but it’s been really neat. Booked tickets. Firmed up plans for the next stops. [To the wonderful urban planner, C, whom I just met today–hey! That was one hell of a conversation and very much needed. My questions again: how do we design and architect social spaces that ‘feel great’, but also, help people discover ways to think crticically and make choices that let them live better? What does a full city contain that an underdeveloped one doesn’t? What should be doing, as people who design spaces, and whose responsible for us ‘being happy’ and ‘living such as to become our best selves?’ Used to nerd about about these topics at walkable communities conferences Stateside and the time in Seattle interviewing loads and loads of engineers, city officials, and yeah, urban planners. The podcast I mentioned, is here. So yeah. Looks like Tuesdays are turning into S P A C E-y ones. Shall I make another thing? I can. I’m thinking maybe just two or three people now. It’s tiring, sometimes, to keep at it. But yeah. Sometimes you fall into the moment and it catches you by surprise. If you wanna talk about art, design, architecture, the shape of space, poetics, cities, and what gives the fabric of meaning to them, hey. I’m all in. Just hit me up.) To A and K: safe journeys. To A and R: SYS. And yeah. For anyone wondering what’s going on behind the scenes, here is where to join the conversation.]
I’VE JUST ARRIVED. It’s twenty to one. A man in a nice cotton blue suit-jacket, not quite a suit, mind, but a suit-like thing, was hanging around momentarily. Ostensibly waiting for his coffee to be made, fresh for a take-away (a pet peeve of mine, personally, the take-away cup). But there comes a woman. Equally well put-together. Both wear light cotton pants, hers are white, his are a little less white, but still, nicely offset by the blue. I think I mentioned the blue already. Yes, yes I did. I think I was thinking about the color emerald green… yesterday… I was thinking about a certain otherworldly Northern Europe color palette, a tendency towards the muted colors. Yes, I like those, too. Had gone through a phase of that. Bluegreys. Seattle. One of my homes. Another one is turning out to be Kuala Lumpur. Keep coming back here to host things, it feels like. And I love the atmosphere, the color, the texture, the city vibe. And all this great teh halia, too. See stuff DK and friends have hosted here, at this page, DesignKompany.com/Malaysia. (HT TS: ‘Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask me where I’m local.’)
Beyond the edge of the world
SEATTLE. I remember. A lot of rain fell, and then, the cloudburst came, in the form of ‘The Dive,’ (Kismuth Books // 2012), which I realize I must have talked about a lot, in many places, but in short fragments, a lot of things come in short fragments, don’t they? And then you go into the quiet zones, and stay there. Perhaps too long. Because when you forget how to speak up, speak forward, speak without muting your voice too terribly much for fear you’ll be chastised, chided, critiqued, questioned, challenged, humiliated, or otherwise made to feel bad about the fact that you are you, and you alone, unique as DNA, then being purposeful and insistent in holding out and sharing with others the very you that is you becomes, well… hard. Because you’re worried. Anxious. Uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be the very you that is you. Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t—it’s okay and it’s easy to say and words are cheap; sometimes they are, of course at other times they are very exquisite, not cheap at all, not cheap… but then there comes his coffee.
One now. Almost the time for the office workers to come in. I’m taking up two tables. I better collate this stuff. Maybe get going. Too many people; it’s uncomfortable. I might say I’ve become more Finnish, in this regard, but I think it was always there, and underscored when I had lived in Seattle. A tendency towards being more alone, than with others. Wanting a lot of room around me. Not liking the oppressiveness of being in the airspace of too many people in too small a room. It’s happening. I’m starting to feel it. Suffocation. But, wait. It’s not that bad. It’s still Malaysia. It’s still developed. There isn’t going to be a lot of noise and there won’t be dust or dirt. The people will shuffle in, and as quickly, shuffle out. They will. They are in motion. They are on the clock. Time. Time is a thing, for some people. I get it. They have to go punch in, punch out. Me? What am I? Slowing down. Slowing in the moment. But maybe this is the wrong environment for that. I’m wishing I could be in Melakka, too. I was there. I liked it there. The weekdays are a better time to be there. But I’m here, preparing for Phnom Penh. Sounds odd, writing that. Haven’t I tried, many times, to ‘move on’ from there? But… the question is a real one, and smacks and smarts: to where? Where is the next home? It’s a big, open field, and you can go in any direction. Instead of getting lost in the amorphous not-knowing, though, I’m learning to embrace it. The field is one of my homes, too. Like the road. And North Carolina. And Seattle. And, and…. Phnom Penh. Four years is a long time to be parked there. Four years, writing nothing much, really, except for, oh yeah, Breakfast in Cambodia. A two-year anniversary of that little book just passed. I’m happy about this. I can try again, for something different. Maybe finally finish ‘Socheata’s Comb.’
Back to KL. Back to right now.
Real life is the stage
I AM READYING to make a move. Or maybe not. If they leave, I’ll stay. If they stay, I’ll leave. She is asking him something. He is saying something else. They are acquainted. They talk about weathers. Not the hurricanes, like I am doing in emails with people in North Carolina, because of the flooding in the east of that state, but about… well, the sun and Melbourne and smalltalk. Smalltalk is nice, has its place, at times. No? Of course it does. Work colleagues, maybe. I try to assess. They are cordial. Do they work in some kind of fashion retail outlet? Perhaps they are middle managers. Perhaps, perhaps.
My mind makes up stories. Connects dots that aren’t quite there, but might appear to be in places if, after some amount of time observing the stage of real life, always the most exciting, could become rather realistic. Reality. The strangest sort of fiction. Or is fiction real? I don’t know. What am I talking about? These are the kinds of things that gather momentum here, when it is not yet lunch rush and the caffeine is starting to find its jolt. The jolt that makes the story. The sentences place themselves, one in front of the other. I go back to writing, perhaps. The man leaves, in a hurry; it is abrupt. She is not worried. She is not even moved. She barely acknowledged him, anyway, I noticed, at the start. No one was trying too hard to start talking. That’s okay. That’s fine. You don’t have to talk all the time. Gosh, if I didn’t learn that in Finland. She was on her phone. So was he. Both of them distracting themselves or pretending to. Looking at things. Texts and so on. He had tried to make eye contact. That is a thing unknown to some of the younger ones. They may dress impeccably, but they don’t notice the noticing. And that’s where the breakdown begins, isn’t it? Of communicating from ap lace that’s honest, real, raw, and unfiltered. Facades get in the way of relating. And I guess that’s why, for the first time in a long time, I’m okay writing again, in first person. More on the way. More to share. More, in the form of short books, long books, poems, novellas, plays. And, best of all, co-creations.
Listening in to other people’s conversations… stories of: moneymaking plans, insurance, school and work, weather banter, international transit, general exchanges on the exchange of services and goods, rubber, fear of other, mistrust, putting up with things, and, of course, celebrating a new government, with an optimism. The kind that says, ‘Some glimmer of things to come shan’t be smothered, now.’ That’s the feeling, this go around, here in Kuala Lumpur.
Join S P A C E and be part of the international, asynchronous forums and online salons from October. (Which is when we begin again with a select set of candidates from around the world newly discovered, for the salon, ‘Philosophy of the Moment.’) Scholarships available. Application required. Learn more here.
OUR TRAVELING series 16N is next stopping in Helsinki. It’s a big blind date for just 16 people. (Who will be there? That’s the whole magic of it. The thing is a giant *surprise*.) It’s by invitation. Ask us for an invite, when you follow the story, here: http://designkompany.com/16n
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. ZininginFinland, 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.