The artists gathered for this co-created zine are four very curious people.
Art, natural patterns, and words intertwine in a collaboration between them.
The nature of art
Lee Moore Crawford, a floral designer and artist, once struck up a conversation about the Japanese art of ikebana when DK happened upon her arranging flowers at a coffee shop in Durham, NC, circa 2011. We never forgot it.
So when DK collaborated with another creative person who takes inspiration from nature to make the cover image of this issue (Dipika Kohli took the original photograph in Huế, then forwarded it to digital processing artist Nils don Sihvola in Finland), we wanted to ask Crawford what her feelings would be. Lots came of this interaction, including a short piece, ‘Bloom.’
To give the collection continuity, we then circled back to former culture editor Michael Bridgett, Jr., whose article, ‘Why I Art,’ opens yet another fresh perspective.
Lots of conversations. Lots of back and forth. Lots of email, discussion, redirection.
All of it goes into the current week’s issue, S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist.’
Cover photo by BOSS.
‘Art takes time’
This week, we publish Issue #44.
It’s a cocreation between Alexis Jokela in Finland and Dipika Kohli, our creative director and editor of Autumn 2019’s S P A C E collection, ‘Trust the Process.’
DK had spent three months in the north of Finland in summer 2018. ‘The whole thing is getting kind of interesting now that the conversations are weaving over themselves and inviting new people to join them, too. That’s because, I think, it’s because, mostly, I love to keep things moving, keep things in progression, because it’s more fun than starting from zero. Art, like I wrote in A Place Called Home, art takes time.’ For DK, the best part is that things are starting to place themselves in such wonderful ways that people are meeting each other now. In person, even. This is beautiful. Connexion, at its best.
Order S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’…
This week, the lead story is ‘Ch_cklist,’ by Alexis Jokela, who also is the author of ‘A Summer Love Story’. That was published in S P A C E’ | Oulu. Following similar threads, ‘Ch_cklist’ touches on the things we all go through when we manage to learn how to master our feelings, let things move and shift, and find flow.
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’ is published exclusively here in S P A C E. Download it all this here.
Aesthetic Moment: a fleeting sense of unity through a profound respect for different voices in dialogue.
While the world goes by, with its strangenesses and difficulties, what is there to be done? Make more and better S P A C E. Recall aesthetic moments. Design for more of them. Or, at least, try. In which anything can happen, anything is possible, the kind of space in which the new and different can meet and connect. Meaningfully: not just idly or superficially, but… really and sincerely. Refer to Lila.
Meeting two members of Latvian band The Coco’Nuts was, for DK, when we were in Rīga, just exactly one of these aesthetic moments.
I wanted to share one of the songs I really liked, from discovering more after my return to Southeast Asia. I’ve had time to let things percolate. To recall the moments that most crystallized and helped me see the beauty there still is, where there still are people who care about beauty, anyway. So easy to chase the empty things, without really caring about the artful ones. Easy to say. Hard to pull off. I loved learning about how some people are actually making that happen, though, when I was there…
I WAS GOING to spend time today writing an interesting, important blog post. About my journey to this country (Latvia, at the moment), and the things I have learned here. It was going to be articulate, long-winded, perhaps, but also intriguing (I hoped) and if I did it right, a little funny. The point was to sum up all the learning I have had, and there was a ton, in this study-abroad-esque moment of being in the city, walking around, visiting people and places over and over and over again until I felt like I could gather impressions to the point where I could say something that might be, well, useful, or at least, a little bit of a nudge to people I kept meeting that might get them thinking, perhaps, a bit, in a different kind of way.
What happened was a reverse reaction, in a nutshell. I learned. More. About. New things. Than I have ever learned, in any other place, in such a short timeframe. In my life.
There is more to say about this.
But I will save the words for tonight’s show.
Invitation-only, this time. I changed the venue to keep things simple. Realized I just wanted to include a handful of people. People who made me think. In other words, the subjects of the stories that we are sharing in our magazines.
Just a handful. Just these five… all of them welcome, no need for tickets, as my personal guests. A good way to roll the dice, I think, rather than get caught up in the work of event-running and forgetting that the art is… us.
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!
FOR ALMOST all of the 2000s I would tell our clients (we used to have clients, would you believe–and an office, and phones that plugged into the wall, neighbors, a bar across the street, gads of cafes in that place as it was lower Capitol Hill in Seattle, and my favorite-ever thing which I swore I would someday use to print a book manuscript on and finally did albeit ten years after getting it–an $800 color laser printer)… well, I would tell them, ‘Trust the process.’
Beginnings and trust
I would say that at the very beginning because we go on these wild journeys together, when we go, and we have no idea in which direction we’ll head, or why. We’re just gonna start by starting, I would say.
Since this January, I have grown to see that there is much more than just starting a thing. Momentum (p), is velocity times mass.
if m is an object’s mass and v is the velocity. So the faster you’re going the more momentum. The bigger you are the more momentum. And since S P A C E was conceived in the waning weeks of 2018, it has gained in both. The collection has grown from a few test issues to a robust 12-set sequence, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment,’ and a handful of new ones for the current one, ‘The Book of New Things.’ More than once I’ve looked back and thought, ‘What the?’ But the work is getting better and better: that’s the direct result of all the small ramps that it has taken to build a big one. And it has certainly been a wild, beautiful, engaging, and enormous team task. Especially because that team is in very different places, and scattered about through timezones and points in the span of DK’s existence, too: old ties and new ones, interwoven, are informing the good things that are emerging in S P A C E. That’s the project, by the way. S P A C E for new and different others to connect in remarkable ways. Meaningfully, not trivially. And I do NOT mean silly online dating things or that kind of craic. I mean… meaningfully.
But now it’s my turn. To trust the process.
Because philosophy and metaphilosophy and asking big questions is not… popular. So I have to keep asking around until I find the people who are interested, and keep going when I do. That is the big work now and the forward motion is to press the pedal at the times when the road is straight. Mass x velocity, right?
Currently in Japan. A lot to say. Too much. Saving it for the fall, by then I’ll work some of the ideas out into some new zines. If it takes me 10 years to write a book, I’ll say it takes me 6 months to write 12 zines. Let’s see what happens. Hopefully some of the people I am connecting with on this journey will co-create with me, as others have and did for previous issues of S P A C E. Some of my favorites: Hanoi, Aarhus, Brussels, and Kyoto.
‘And you may not know what that is going to yield, not right away, but it might make sense in say a year or two or ten. But if you’re ready to start new things and see where they might lead, take a chance on DK, and trust the process, then I can promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and maybe even learn a thing or two about yourself you did not know.’ This is what I didn’t tell my old clients at DK, in the 2000s. This is what, I learned, my clients from recent years are telling me that I do for them. And that’s why it’s especially important to relay that, here and now. Because when you’re on the edge and not sure what’s next, and alone, because alone is the only place you can find out something very intriguing indeed, I have a cool note in one of my many papers about that from the Eskimo people, and there much more to say, but I can’t keep my eyes open much longer as I’m still a little out of it from moving suddenly from Vietnam to Japan. Worlds. Apart. I feel like I did when I was in CPH and walking the cool blue streets there: florists, cafes, bars, the public transit portals. These are the structures and the trappings of a city. But I forgot that the reason I dived into SE Asia and stayed six years was because… oh, well, let me process it properly first and share it in the fall zine series of S P A C E, will I? That way I’ll keep it neat and clean here. Here is just my note-taking, documenting the process. Because I have to trust it now. It’s my turn to do the thing I used to tell everyone else to do.
‘Trust. The process.
‘DK, trust it.’
Yes. It’s my turn, here at this plateau, to stop and look back and tell myself to not give up, not quit this thing, even if it seems lonely, and that I’m going at it alone, I must remember that I am not, that there are friends and colleagues and more friends and more colleagues awaiting the things ahead. The Book of New Things made itself clear to me today, In the form of a very small, very casually around, very handsome and significant small bounded box. Inside, a set of different things: from here, from there, from far, from near. The past, the present. A set of togethering: again, old meeting new.
Where am I going on this conversation-starting path? Into the depths of the things-to-become, if we let them, as and when we’re ready. (It’s not for everyone, of course. But if you are starting new journeys somewhere, the S P A C E set that self-selects is comprised of a very unique collection of some of those whom I’ve met on my travels and in my work (well, more the former lately, than the latter), and more importantly, through the conversations.) Good new things are starting: mini-parties to get us together in real life in cities around the world (next are Tokyo and Bangkok, for example) and the co-created zines, too.
How to be part of S P A C E
Membership is free with your eZine subscription to S P A C E. DK’ll send you the magazine and a couple of invitations to join us in the co-creation of the Book of New Things. All ahead. Here’s what to do now… click the button below and donate to our crowdfunding page where you can click ‘Weekly S P A C E’. It’s exciting, what’s ahead.
About 1 out of every `100 people I will meet will be just exactly the kind of guests I would want to be a part of S P A C E. Maybe you, reading there, are in that small bracket? On the off chance you are, I invite you to connect. Click this button and you’ll get to our crowdfunding page, just sign up there, and more will follow…
GOOD THINGS. New stories came together over the 20 Feb-14 March Atelier S P A C E project in Hanoi. It was part of our Spring 2019 conversations and real life gatherings so far, a collection of 12 zines in the making that together we call BoNT, or ‘Book of New Things.’
(HT Catherine J. Howard and Mai Phuong Nguyen for being the very first 2 members of S P A C E for Spring 2019, and whose contributions to our crowdfunding for S P A C E is directly helping make this happen. We are going where people are showing up, where people are supporting this work, and where we are finding resonance with our intentions to connect, and interconnect, new and different others so that we can make S P A C E, together. To learn, to discover, to co-create, and grow)
Four percent battery–what else to say? For those new to DK, ‘Come to something, say hi, see what we’re doing.’ For those who’ve known DK since Seattle, ‘Hey! We’re still at it.’ For those who wonder where we are going next and how this is all going to happen… *secret*. I’m not sure if this is clear to most people but I don’t really need a lot of people to know about us, what we’re up to, or what we’re making. Just a handful: usually very self-selecting. To say, ‘OK.’ More about that below. But for now, really, it’s a team effort. That team is not something that’s ‘yay let’s do this maybe!’, but rather, carefully selected and invited after several years of working on things in short bursts, to see how it goes.
Squaring up and making a go, we are now creating S P A C E.
HANOI. What a series. We started posting on instagram here and there because that seems to be where people read and connect, as irritating as that is to someone like myself who does not own a smartphone and relies on email and Zoom to communicate. [Long passage deleted]. We have finished the zine and it’s going to launch on 2 July in S P A C E. You can order a digital copy (USD 7), from our online store.
Exciting movement for things in VN, and more to share with those in our inner circles. S P A C E is a kind of journey, but S P A C E isn’t for everyone. I’m conversing more deeply in the protected-page forums. More there, very soon. Thanks for showing up at S P A C E | Miniparty HN. (You know who you are.)
MEET DK IN S P A C E.Subscribe to S P A C E the zine for USD 7/week if you want to be a part of things in S P A C E. (To keep things cozy, invitations for DK’s next programmes online and in real life through 2019 will be made through our membership list, only.) Less is more. Less helps us focus. On the people who are here, who are curious, engaged, listening, ready to try something new, to take a chance, to trust the process, to show up, and, hey. Magic carpet ride.
I REMEMBER THIS. Spam comments. Requests for jobs at DK. This must be what happens when you start blogging again. I mean, like really blogging, not just writing the clickbait-y stuff that I think so many people who write blogs that are professional service company people with a ‘plus a blog with them’ do. I mean, it’s easy to get caught up in that. Writing isn’t easy. Writing is work. Writing for the sake of what end, you wonder, and so, like everyone else, you turn into a market-markety bloggy-blog. Which is terrible. Because it’s not just irritating to find silly ad-like links everywhere, it’s also bad art. Bad art isn’t acceptable, so let’s move forward.
Am reading about social capital. And how capitalism has taken what used to be stuff we did for each other because we’re human beings, and commodified it.
Social capital is, for example, when we take care of each other’s kids. When we help one another with homework, do the work that it takes to go out of our way to help someone else out with finding lost keys or getting to the next city or taking the right bus or whatever. Social capital is when someone kindly invites you to dinner when you know that all the restaurants are going to be closed because it’s a holiday, and nothing is open for five more days which means you’ll be stuck at the ‘mart’– which sells more processed garbage and smells, when you walk into it, like Capitalism.
[Long-winded side rant deleted]
And social capital is this kind of thing, the soft architecture of spacemaking: making space that is, for one another. To reflect, to share. All those old dialogue roundtables we did before, I remember some of them were very, very interesting, were a kind of ‘public space,’ the very sort that we need if we want to find ways to feel more connected. Like the things we are here for matter. Like we’re part of something more than just the day-to-day of churning out ‘stuff’ in exchange for our time. Selling our time, that is.
Being there, closely. Listening, and participating in the creative process of Life… Oh, no. I’m getting lofty again. (‘Come off the mountain, DK!’) Right, right.
I’m making this new stuff because I want to add more social capital to the pot of the ‘stuff’ that’s out there, now (which is largely boring, to me). I don’t go to networking events. Or weddings, if I can help it. I try to avoid all social chatter that revolves around ‘like-minded people are gonna be there’ because to me, ‘like-minded’ is an echo chamber I don’t wanna step into. I’m interested in the mix. The flow, the journey… But if you know me, you already know that. If you don’t, well. I guess I’m writing, at the moment, for the people who know me or potentially might—let’s see. The internet, asmuchas I give out about it, has made it possible for me to meet new people on the road in the very kinds of journeys that I’m also on… I don’t mean ‘like-minded,’ here… I mean, more of… the questioning, quest-y types… Not for everyone, of course… but. About 1 out of 100 will be reading this far. And looking for the ‘what do I do now that I’ve found you?’ call to action. (Is this you? It’s around, somewhere, I promise.) If it wasn’t for the internet, I’d probably still be thinking that my job at a daily paper was ‘creative.’
But through the process of trusting the process, I found out what is.
Okay, then there’s the whole thing about what to do when we start to charge everything for everything, like, you know, babysitting and homework help and stuff like that. I mean, sure, we all have to earn cash because that is what it’s about right now, cashy-cashy. Still, I think we can start trading in something that is more old school. The currency of trust.
Why? Because, despite the worship of those little pieces of paper that we give and take from each other (more and more facelessly than ever, sadly, I feel) it’s not like we really need cash to get things to happen. We need trust. Like old times. We need to know who we can count on, and for real. To do things. Make things. Move around. Discover. Make time for each other. Be. All of this is what leads to stillness and reflection. And that leads to better art. Design is only a means towards getting to the better art. Art, art, art, ladies and gentlemen. I am not talking about what someone decided was artistic and put into a fancy pants gallery, either. I’m talking about stuff that moves us. makes us sing, connect, feel, and even brings tears to our eyes because it shows us our own…. there’s too much to write here and if I’m writing in this public space, which it looks like I don’t see the reason to make this a protected page post because those are reserved for the conversation-continuing, not starting, and what I hope to do is maybe make a few new starts, here. Today or soonish. But they have to be good starts. They have to have art in them.
My parents told me that I shouldn’t study art, so I went to engineering school* and then I worked for some architects, and then two different newspapers (fortnightly, daily), and then I started a design studio, and here I am writing away about art. All of the past experiences have informed the ways to design structures in which we can most excitingly discover the concepts that lead to great works. That’s important. Scaffolding. For S P A C E for ex. I’ll need to talk about it, sometime, if you are one of the people who are wondering how to connect with us in a better way than just reading this blog sometimes. There’s real stuff, it really is cool. It’s working, it’s been working, and there’s… a new beginning. And more…
*Looking for samples of what different bridges look like? This is a cool site.
‘More of what, though?’
Existing more artfully, in the same exact time frame, means you get more. Experience something fully by focusing on it, while you’re in it, and not getting distracted by all the so-called possibilities and ‘options.’ Sorry. I just don’t. Get that. I like to go with it when I know there’s a beginning there, that feels right. That works me, challenges me, instructs and delights, and best of all, delivers—all that is ahead, for me, is the quest of this kind of ‘more.’ Not more stuff. Not more friends. Not even more… anything, really. So what am I after, then? What am I questing? Questions. And people who ask good ones.
So far I’ve been very lucky. There is… an ambient… community. Behind the scenes here there are a small group of us talking together in very intriguing, even intimate ways, even though maybe we’ve never met in real life. Real life is the best channel, of course, but when we can’t have that it’s nice to have this and then gear up towards having that, one day. It does happen. It’s great. S P A C E started in 2014. So. There’s that. And most importantly: there is trust. Trust is what we’re dealing in, like I said. Trust trust trust trust trust is what we human beings always went with when it came down to it: ‘Do I believe you? Are you reliable?’ Please don’t act like you’re interested in what I’m making when we first meet and then turn out to be a really flaky flake: that is a huge, huge pet peeve for me. Be real, dude. Just: be real.
Towards a better art
Art! So much to talk about. I did go to a fancy art school for like five minutes but dropped out because it wasn’t where the meaning was getting made, it was where old, dying ideas about what is ‘good’ were getting pushed on young people who would go on to do, what Banksy wrote in something somewhere, the kind of work that just isn’t art because (and I’m paraphrasing) the best minds went to work for people who used them up to get us all to click links and buy stuff we don’t need. I left art school to take up odd jobs and then go travel, and then, more stuff, but yeah, it was a lot of movement, there, fora while. To quest the artful. I used to have two big categories at this blog, before it got deleted accidentally (long story). The categories were: 1) In Search of Meaning and 2) In Pursuit of Beauty. Then I think there was Found and also Trust the Process. Mostly still probing in these four compass points, about a decade and a half later. Maybe we met in 2004 at something like Biznik. Maybe we met last week in Vietnam. Wherever you come from, wherever we’re going, we’re at this journey that I’m really excited about, that’s coming into shape quite nicely, in S P A C E. And since those four original points of query were so important then, is it any wonder, then, why we are talking together in online spaces in protected pages about existential philosophy, aesthetic moments, relational aesthetics (HT JB) the work of design, the meaning of art, the value of money, and much more related tangentially to these ideas?
So many philosophy magazines are a pile of junk, I think: they’re… well, let’s see… to put it bluntly?… they’re… just quoting the same old people saying the same old things, from a bygone era. (I have a habit of doing that sometimes, but some of us and I’m assigning myself to this role ought to be seeking up the new philosophers and publishing them: new voices, from the not-mainstream). Our real cool contemporary and updated modern philosophers are right here, amongst us here and now, talking, every day, about the way it all unfolds or doesn’t… I’m rambling. Oi. I’m going to stop now… Because. Art is the point. Not me making a point.I don’t wanna go down that silly path of logic-worship. Intuition is better. Intuiting the ‘rightness’ of things… and falling forward, towards them. Forward motions.
Such movements, after all, for S P A C E, are the point. So much to say. Will save it all up, for ‘Postmodern Nomads’, and the invite-only sequence ‘Strange Geometries II’. These new bits and pieces and unfolding meaning-making conversations to come in Spring 2019, with the launch of a new series in S P A C E, ‘The Book of New Things.’
S P A C E QUESTS S P A C E. All of this to say that you can join the conversations, but please note that you have to be able to add to what we are doing. Contribute ideas, words, time, show up for stuff, be there. Be part of the journey. Fiscally that’s fine, that’s one kind of contribution, but we’re wiling to take trades of all kinds. Always. That’s the new thing, around here; trade something for us, for S P A C E. It can be what you think makes sense. Bartering around the world, we are, lately. I’m serious. Banked on it; it’s working. Trust. All the conversations that have built up in meaningful ways to date over these last four years as we prototyped and pivoted, tested and scrapped dozens of failing directions in order to come up with the theme, the concept, the sequence, and the small team that is the right one for us here at DK, well it’s a lot. But yeah. They started with: showing up. And conversations that go somewhere.
Social capital. Is that, and so many other things, enfolded into its coat sleeves, pockets… places we’ve forgotten about as we chase the bigger kind of more prominent style of ‘more.’ (Fame, money, popularity, all that stuff). But… let’s be real: social capital, the good stuff that it brings to us, and the community it builds, is the most important kind of ‘capital’ there really is.
Feature illustration: By Dipika Kohli // Phnom Penh 2015
Artist Marine Ky, a friend of DK’s in Paris, will host this unique, once-off ‘zinemaking’ atelier. You’ll have a chance to hear the story of how she created the works also on display at the venue, as her solo exhibition is running currently, too. Expect the unexpected, along with: sewing, cutting, collaging, making, and trying out things by hand. She is a printmaker expert in etching, who loves to incorporate textiles in her art practice
DK met her in Phnom Penh, and fell into a conversation quite easily about all of the things that we both care about: art, making, chance encounters, conversation salons, and that awkward question about ‘where are you from.’ We collaborated to co-host events in Phnom Penh including ‘Origin’ at the Embassy of Bulgaria.
Art is in the sharing
I’m a great fan of her works, as well, which have the layers to them that showcase the attention to detail and excellence that can only come with practice, and a lot of it. Especially refreshing in an era of fast-paced relentlessness and distractedness, and a push to ‘commodify’ something before you even get anywhere halfway decent at it.
I’m all for agile development, don’t get me wrong, DK is a work-in-progress on exactly that philosophy, but it’s really nice, isn’t it, when you see someone dedicate their time and practice longitudinally, committing to the refinement and discovery within the creative process that reveals, further, more niche and more delicate levels of possibility that only those who are versed in the tools of that craft can appreciate.
(Side story: Much like the time I showed my pictures of wooden temples that I took in Japan, pictures of wooden temples, that is to say, made without nails, to my joinery friend Paul Stephenson in Ireland… I recall the way he had studied these 3.5″x5″ prints (yes, prints: my medium back then was photography and I was a nerd about matte finishes, and that sort of thing)… the way he studied that which was there, communicating with him through the years, in a photograph that I took offhandedly, pretty much… but the how and the beauty of the art of that maker’s hand was clear to him. In a way that sometimes you can intuit, but it’s very tough to put into words.)
Seeing Marine Ky’s sewn works, collaged fabrics, and I think some white gloves, with something on them, I can’t recall every detail but the feeling is still with me: a feeling of history, of sharing, of richness and complexity, of caring. Saw them on display in Phnom Penh in a frame, gave me this same pause and a quick gasp: ‘This is beautiful. This is art.’
See for yourself
And on that note, I invite you to see for yourself what is on display currently in Paris. DK are pleased to share with our friends in that city this unique, once-off, first-time-in-Paris edition of Atelier S P A C E. Included are lunch, conversation (I’m certain it will be great, given my past experience with meandering conversations with Marine Ky), and even a cutting-and-zinemaking mini-workshop. More information to follow, but RSVP is kindly requested. RSVP through the form below.
Atelier S P A C E| Paris
What: A zinemaking atelier. Once-off. Conversation salon cum cuttng-fabric-and-zining workshop. Hosted by: Marine Ky Location: At the venue also featuring her solo exhibition. Time: 11.30AM – 1PM Date: Saturday, February 16 Address: 8 Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Tickets: Euro 20, including workshop fee, lunch, and zinemaking materials. Payable at the door. Limited seats. RSVP through the form below for the official invitation.
** Apportez de chez vous ce que vous souhaitez partager avec nous pendant l’atelier. **
GOOD MORNING FROM Phnom Penh. Quiet reflection, at DK World HQ, here at the turn of the year. Three issues of our ‘A Philosophy of the Moment’ collection for Winter 2018-19 are ‘done and dusted,’ as we used to say in print. Except these are digital. So ‘done and filed’, I suppose. And much more is ahead, thanks to good work and great people whom we’ve bumped into and who are challenging us to explore, experiment further, and push the envelope.
WORLD TRENDS. Because now more than ever, the work to bring us together instead of drive us apart is obvious to everyone who is trying to collaborate meaningfully across divides of all kinds. Or even just take note that there do exist huge chasms that keep some from being heard: on purpose. Looks like with our programmes to make zines with people near and far by gathering us in very small circles to really pay attention to each other and learn, DK and our teams are riding the wave of a worldwide trend. A wave which includes many things that we’re still discovering about, just now. Political theory, for ex. Relational dialectics. Intersectionality. And more.
NEW STARTS. These first S P A C E issues, (pictured above), are set in Finland and Cambodia. They will be part of a larger collection of co-created zines designed and put together for DK’s Winter 2018-19 S P A C E collection. It’s called ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’
Thanks to new crowdfunding support, DK are able to give our full creative attention in early 2019 to the making of new zines in this co-creative manner.
As in the past, what we’ll make from now on, too, will be put together in new places, with people whose paths in those locales might never have crossed. Gathering. Connecting. Interconnecting. Sharing: in real life, on the spot, in the moment.
Dialogue. Design. Making meaning. Aesthetic moments. Self discovery. Showing up. Conversation and connection and space for real life.
Collaborating teams at DK are making S P A C E.
To hold all of this.
ZINERY. At first, it might look like just pieces of paper. But the zines make it possible for us to discover each other and give time to get to know new perspectives, and flesh out our own ideas, too. So that’s why, once you get to experience it, you find out that zine-making and our ateliers offer more than just paper productions. Experiences. And much, much more. Hard to describe. Hard to claim. But if you’ve been there, you know.
ATELIER S P A C E. Looking back on the work to gather and connect people for hyperlocal, high-quality moments of dialogue and co-creation to make ‘zines,’ there’s a lot that is becoming clear to us. All these years of designing for clients and you get to know when to pay attention to the emergent pattern: the inklings that become the height of the ‘a-ha’ apogee and the sudden awareness that yes, here it is, this is the thing, the concept, that here we are, OMG WTF, that this is really it.
OUR TEAMS at DK are, as per usual, talking. Processing. Sharing. Learning, through dialogue, across chords of a circle that stretches the globe. In this way we are practicing ‘aesthetic moment’ design. Which is what I wanted to talk about here, today.
The different places we’ve been have brought us close to new populations of ideas, new kinds of query-making. Forays of a variety that are vast and have a particular kind of beauty; not knowing that these were there, because you can’t ever know, we trusted the process. Going where we don’t know anyone, seeing what we can learn, and trying new things, in real life, on the spot. Together. It’s been 5 years since this all started, with the ‘Year of Uncertainty’ project. (No agenda, no plan, no income, no savings, no contacts, and airplane tickets to a city in Southeast Asia we’d never been to… round-trip tickets that we’d only use half of. All that led to lots. Learning, meeting people, quality, more. But the upshot of it is something I can’t encapsulate here, in the public-facing blog. It is, however, something that we can elaborate on in our eZine.)
More about the learnings on ‘relational aesthetics,’ ‘relational art,’ and ‘relational dialectics’ vis-a-vis systems thinking, ahead for those who are with us, starting from January and through the year. Links at the end of this post, if you’re curious about how to get on board.
Aesthetic Moment: a fleeting sense of unity through a profound respect for different voices in dialogue.
Certainly it takes time to get to know an outfit as weird and crazy as us lot, here at DK. But yeah. We love a great party, and the online stuff is pretty fun. Feel free to sign up to get email to get to know us better. Or, jump right in to a part of the conversation when you subscribe to S P A C E. Subscribe here. More on the way.
A happy New Year from all of us at DK.
Thanks for reading, for connecting, and for inspiring us when we have had the chance to meet in person and talk deeply about so many, many things.
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”→
E X P L O R I N G _ T H E _ A R T
Times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts are what we write and share about in S P A C E. Works are creative nonfiction short stories, co-created with members of Design Kompany’s team both in Phnom Penh and in the places where we are going to discover new and different voices ‘out there,’ in the field..
Where are the new and unusual perspectives, hiterto underreported or cast aside as ‘ethnic?’ Let’s go find them. Let’s write them, share them, co-create them. In S P A C E Meet us there? Introductory offer: subscribe for just $4/week.
S P A C E posts every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. When. you subscribe, you’ll get it every week by email, plus these exclusive PDF zines, too. Themes change but the idea is that we get closer to the study of what it means to look, listen, discover, hear what we are able to piece together when we make a space for quieting, and noticing, both one another, and ourselves.
Into the Quiet
S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘ The Book of Slow Moment’