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.]
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.
This issue is Brooklyn, ‘Art 4 Art’s Sake.’ Why Brooklyn? Well, that’s where I went to art school for a scant semester–not my scene–but also where I started to ask questions about the point of art, and making it, and learning that you can find your way off to the sides of the places where people insist that you draw within the lines. There are no lines. But that’s just something you have to find out, if you’re inclined, as you go. Making things, trying things. Seeing what feels right.
It was in NY where jazz entered my life in an important way, because jazz and improvisational jam sessions taught me how to make art in a way that lets you leave room for ‘that which might yet emerge.’ All this time later, DK are working sometimes in innovation consulting, but also, experimenting with co-created mini-magazines in the Cloud. I know. Weird. HT MT.
A lot of stuff here to say but I’ll save it for another journey, another moment, and maybe if I’m lucky, find my way to another jazzy, understated, unpretentious, not-sleazy, international, intergenerational music venue. Hard to find, these days. Believe me. I keep looking…
Every so often, magic happens. Like in this issue. I’m really happy that I got to work with Michael Bridgett, Jr. and Paavo Heinonen on it. I love the quirky way it all came together. Landing in the canvas of a digital paper-space that let us talk, together, in an ambient, light, philosophical way.
‘It’s changed. A lot. Since the good ol’ days when it was flat and you could talk to anybody anywhere and it was cool.’
‘Stupid algorithms. Fake accounts. Promoted tweets, that makes it feel like garbage is everywhere and it’s hard to find the gems.’
‘Are there any?’
‘Sure. But there isn’t much discernment now between this which matters, and that which doesn’t, because…’
‘A lot of things. I don’t want to go into it, here. This is public space. But I’ll write about it, in Tuesday’s issue.’
‘Which is Art 4 Art’s Sake.’
‘Are you going to keep tweeting?’
‘I don’t know. It’s… where I used to find people and we could talk about things that really felt like things that count. Over time. And built something, ambiently. Some people who I consider friends are people I met on twitter but never met met.’
I MUST BE GETTING PLACES. I have been conversing in real time and also asynchronously in the cloud. With amazing people who inspire me.
To keep going.
To keep doing this thing where we show up, see what happens, and put together an issue, somehow.
Arts and letters
I really can’t quite believe I am talking and making poetry with IK, jeez I’m lucky. I can’t give you all the details now because that would be too much, but suffice to say, it’s a fascinating jam session and I’m delighted to be able to explore it.
Cell memory, poetics
A living poet. Light with words, light with the style, letting me approach and say, ‘Shall we do this?’ A conversation in S P A C E, too many words already. I will stop here.
The things are evolving.
Which is good.
What would DK be if it didn’t change every so often completely?
What is that thing about how your cells renew, every seven years?
Unstuffy, unpretentious, realness
I did go to a couple of stuffy literary conferences and festivals in my life, but not a single one of the people I met really felt like they were doing anything truly creative, if you want to know my honest opinion.
They just kinda… seem to get caught up in the recognition-seeking thing. Not innovating in the form. Which, to me, is far more exciting. And takes effort to go to the edge, look and, well… leap. Status quo-happy people like to hug the mainstream lines. Art can’t be art, though, if you ask me, if you do that. Just, no.
Which is exactly why the people who are actually exploring and experimenting… well, they catch my ear, and eye.
Today’s in S P A C E we publish the new zine, S P A C E | Dubai, ‘Heart to Heart.’
A special issue co-created with Sinxloud‘s Saqib Jan, who is based in Dubai.
‘A shift of phase’
Honesty, connection, discovery and trusting the process led to the writing, design and layout of this 16-page PDF.
The lead story, ‘A Shift of Phase,’ centers on an intimate, refreshingly blunt conversation between two childhood friends.
The issue also contains quotes, like this one:
The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks. The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative, and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little. —Banksy, quoted in ‘Today’s Dystopia: They Live’, by Joe Sparrow in Montag, a Berlin magazine
The art of work
DK enjoyed working on this layout, getting a chance to place fresh photography with a piece of writing that might surprise you.
Like all our zines, this was a work of many iterations and forms, which came into shape through varying degrees of amplitude, reach, and serendipitous encounters, in S P A C E.
A good collaboration, all around.
And with this issue, #41, our two-year roving atelier project, Atelier S P A C E, has concluded. Today DK’s Dipika Kohli and BOSS had a lengthy sit-down post-mortem, discussing the ups and downs of what one learns when working to connect, and interconnect, meaningfully and not trivially, new and different others to make space for remarkable connexion.
Did it work? Was it useful? Did it matter?
Questioning the questions: that’s what DK learned from SJ.
This issue. Has taken me more than a year to wrap my heart around. It’s centered around a brief exchange that I had in a blustering white night all-night escapade that began as a foray to Haapavesi.
‘You go to peculiar places!’ said a writer in Oulu.
Despitemy usual antisocial nature, I went. To… Haapavesi.
What I found is wrapped into a short story, which is the lead story for this collection. It, and the issue itself, are called ‘Proprioception.’
It’s a mashup of conversations from Finland over the summer in 2018, as well as more recently, in the cloud. Internet and real clouds… mixing and sharing and discovering and writing. Stories and poems. People give me so much to think about, and, I’m told, I do the same for them. What we discover when we make space to converse is, of course, the whole entire point of S P A C E. So I decided to share that very sweet, summer and lighthearted story today. Starry constellations and jazzy connections, but over karaoke, rounds in bars and ‘filled croissants’ at home.
And who is Soile? Well.
Let me think how to describe this… well, okay, it’s difficult.
Some things are for sharing.
Some things are for folding into art, and publishing, as zines.
Those who are used to my writing and creative nonfiction will not be surprised, but it’s pretty much a combination of three people. Soile… Whom I met on the bus, whom I met at a bar, and whom I met at somewhere I can’t say because this is a public post and not one of the protected ones. [Long stories deleted]
Order this issue of S P A C E
Today’s release has a bunch.
A new short story.
Two poems including ‘Step a little closer,’ from 2014, which I wrote about the work of art, mostly, in a collaboration with M.
In linguistics, the cooperative principle describes how people can be effective at conversational communication in common social situations—that is, how listeners and speakers must act cooperatively and mutually accept one another to be understood in a particular way.
Paul Grice put it this way it, ‘Make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.’
Today and all the next few days and maybe even on into next week I am doing something I have not done for a very, very long time.
Okay, but besides that: file-cleaning.
Clearing the clutter.
Making the space.
I’m in charge of mashup for the next 12-set issue of S P A C E. It’s Autumn 2019’s series, ‘Trust the Process.’
I need to go through and find all the things that have helped me learn what this means. That means starting with… the records I have been floating about in the cloud since 2006 or something or maybe before that, even. Whenever it was that we got Dropbox, and other things, that let you place files ad hoc into ‘storage’ and you never ever think about them again.
It’s time to review.
Take stock, and delete the things that don’t fit the narratives that are emergent, now.
‘Flapping’, and then ‘diving’
I cannot remember why I don’t have good pictures of MAKE in Durham, when I had hosted that event right after returning to the Triangle after 10 years away. John Wendelbo, a bronze sculpture artist who likes math things like fluid dynamics and you can see that when you see his work, was one of my panelists and guest speakers. I loved what he had said, way back then, about how the creative process (which is what Make was about), is when you just fly around like a bird and you’re flapping, and you’re flapping, and for a hell of a long time you’re flapping, until, wham, you see something and as soon as you see that thing, you dive.
Returning to the Triangle was a mixed bag. After all, I’d been happily working on Design Kompany projects in Seattle for four years, and working as a newspaper daily reporter for two years in that city before that. And Ireland, of course. Was before all that. And leaving the Triangle had been a heckuva project, and then, why was I going back? Because… home. Seeking home. A nagging thing, with me.
[Long story deleted. Perhaps SLH will be able to relate.]
So yeah. Back I was, back in the Triangle (which, to those who are not familiar, is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC which RK likes to say ‘has the highest PhD per capita in the United States’). This might be dated info, of course, because it was the eighties when RK said that. And now, NC seems to be a place I have a very, very hard time thinking about calling ‘home.’ So I just don’t think about it. And go on the road, continuously, instead. Looking for home, wanting to find comfort, solace, and solidity. Okay, fine. That’s not easy to build, or to expect. It’s what happens when you go to the places that you know, and that know you.
These are rare.
But one of them is Dropbox.
Sussing, staring, learning, and deletions
So now I have to go through and see what’s worth keeping. Revising. Sharing. Or getting rid of altogether in that permanent state of ‘never to be seen again, ever.’ Which I like. Those who know me well know that I don’t like to keep the boxes hanging around, indefinitely, all open and waiting for something ot happen. If nothing happens, nothing happens. Moving forward, moving onward, towards the shapes of spaces yet to be. That’s more interesting to me. So I get rid of stuff. And Im going through things and I’m looking around and finding some curious things like the jpg 9.jpg, which is part of a ‘zine’ I had made in Seattle, was it 2006? Something like that. I xeroxed it and showed it to JK, one of the more creative people I knew in that city, and he was like, ‘Okay!’ And I just… stopped zining.
Then it’s 2017, and guess what? I start up a zining thing that takes me to Europe and back to Asia like three times. Why? Zining must be important to me. The archives seem to tell me. Which means what. Which means getting rid of the other files in the archives that have no bearing whatsoever on the work I care about today.
Old bad poems, for example.
Old notes for books I’ve already published, as well.
Deletions, deletions. Make space for new things.
This graph one’s from a video of me talking about fuzzy logic and stuff, a video that you can find online, ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’
I like it, even after seven years. I like it so much, in fact, aesthetically and philosophically because I haven’t wavered much on what I said here and still stand by most of it and this is why I am even where I am anyway and doing what I’m doing, in the first place. In fact, since it’s still valid, why reinvent the wheel? When they asked me to put a video link in to the crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, I used this one. Yup. I put it on the video link thing for our crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, the next and newest thing I’m up to, too.
I wonder if that’s something you can do if you have the video to a youtube that goes to a 7-year old video.
I wonder if it matters, anyway, what the rules are. Probably not. But anyway. You might like FQP.
If you do, then yeah, it’s a good sign that we’d get along in real life. Or online conversations that would develop, perhaps to the point of a collaboration, perhaps even in S P A C E. I care about that. I care about things growing and discovering stuff and learning together, and building something cool that is bigger than just you-and-me-met-at-a-party once and that was it.
Know what I mean?
The bigger story.
Us connecting. Deeply. Together, but also then, to others, too.
People who are curious.
Yeah. I hemmed and hawed about what video to put at the Chuffed crowdfunding page (‘does it have to be like everyone else’s? So many of them are just really terrible videos, probably costly, too… how the hell does that happen? F, f, f’)…
… and I don’t have any kind of video making skill after I got over making ‘Moving Pictures’ for YouTube when RV was 7. Ha ha. I wonder if RV will see that. You were like 7, dude. SEVEN. I was half kidding when I said that thing but you actually were in grade school.)
So why make a giant video abut S P C when it’s still emerging and all that. Better to just share my vision. Vision about ‘you don’t know what’s even gonna happen anyway so let’s just play, and enjoy it!’ Yeah.
To the journeys, then.
And to the things to come, with the new and different others, joining me this week in ‘Trust the Process.’ Join at our crowdfunding page, of course. Make | S P C… Link is this.
A great conversation set led to the creation of this issue of S P A C E.
Many thanks to Nils don Sihvola, whose cover art is featured here. The story is by Dipika Kohli.
NILS DON SIHVOLA
‘DIGITAL VISUAL arts-digital SLR and image processing-is my thing. In 2013 a friend sold me his Canon 500d digital camera. Instinctively and instantly, I knew that the digital camera would be my tool to make art. Art: something I’ve known since I was a child I wanted to make. Every year I practiced, and in 2017, went to study photography at Kymenlaakson opisto in Inkeroinen, Finland.
‘Ever since, I’ve wanted to investigate questions like, ‘How does form support content? What’s “balance” in a composition? What can an image say, in complement to, for example, a spoken message?’
‘In a world that relies on the flat 2d spectacle, rotating the axis to discover a fresh perspective can mean the difference between “love” and “pain.”’ Instagram: @nils_don_sihvola
Redesigning means revisiting some of your favorites ideas.
The story Briefly in Sheffield is one of those, for me. I’m happy whenever people read this zine of ours, in the real life context. I’m happy when they put it down and smile and say, That was a good story.
It’s short and sweet, much like the real life encounter that inspired this short story.
Often I hear, ‘I can really identify with the main character…’
Well, yeah. He’s quite a lark. Which is why I wrote this—so I could share the feeling of meeting and becoming curious about… ZM.
Art for art’s sake
‘Briefly’ is for ZM, one of the first people who challenged me to become fast on my feet in articulating a response, not hefty, when someone asks me something pointedly that I really don’t want to answer. Why that happens, how it rolls from that moment of questing through to the one where you find yourself in an unimaginably close-knit bond, in a short space of time, is the subject and delight of the young love that this story shines a light unabashedly upon.
I finished it in a jiffy, more than a dozen attempts since the late nineteen-nineties, and then, wham. There it was. Typed. Printed. Zined.
Like most situations, the impetus to figure out my way to the feeling came after meeting someone randomly, someone new. Whose shoes, which I remarked upon, and accent, which I remarked upon further, reminded me in every way of Z.
[I will skip the parts that didn’t, like that ridiculous potato-sack hopping thing that a lot of thirtysomethings were doing. I can’t deal with this kind of architecture ‘playfulness’ that this age group have, but whatever. I sat in the corner and mused about Z., watching the grown adults race in bags. But the peanuts. The peanuts were good. That was over Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh, in 2017. A new muse, a new poetry. A new beginning. And a new art.]
Jazzy, this one. With a clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen…
‘Shall we dance?…’
Cue ‘Shall we dance…’
Short stories and fresh writings
And now, here it is, reworked. A new cover design. I’m putting it over at the store for Kismuth.
Lots of reorganizing, around here, these days. Redirections. Reinventions. Sorting out the clutter, getting rid of the dead weight. Thank you most especially to AM, and a few others. Who have helped me very much in recent weeks come to some new understandings and insights; as I hope, I always hope this, I hope I did for them, too. And others, too, of course. Granted. Sure. Not a whole hell of a lot of others, but a handful, to be sure. Acknowledgements. Count.
Who, exactly? Coming soon. I have to write down the next things and then I’ll be able to understand who it is that has been here, with me, in the learning and sharing, int eh connecting and conversing, in the opening up and being around and telling it like it is and not-stopping, even if there’s a little space in the midst… space is natural… but meaning it.
Caring. Showing up. Is huge, for DK. And what we do, here. Making. Making things. Artworks come from this intention… meaning it.
Hugely important. For quality.
In search of Quality
Quality! Is all I really want to make more of, around here. And everywhere. Putting more beauty into the world. Forgetting my platform, there for a bit. Too distracted trying to make meaning with people who don’t know what that even looks like. Letting go. Clean, fresh openings.
Another country, soon. Another round and boisterous new start. I made a new personal website, too. Seeing. How it all feels. Writing and designing and zining and publishing, all in one spot here, was maybe kinda a bit… much. Enter podcasting and more stuff like that and yeah, even I’m kinda dazed. So let me simplify things. Let’s make this page all about the publishing of things. In Kismuth, or in S P A C E. I do like to include people in those conversations that lead to things, like co-created bits and pieces. I’m inviting people to join me, now, but in an invite-only kind of way. If you’re curious, get in touch somehow. We have a million channels.
Suddenly I learned today how to send encrypted mail that self-destructs. Boss showed me. Being able to do this (and the need for it, behind the fact that you can do it) together remind me of old action movies that I used to watch, in the days I used to watch things. These days, though, the jump-cuts are too severe and it does my head in, to borrow an Irishism.
There are more things to say, explore, and investigate. There is time, too. There is always time, if we make it. The question is for whom, in what sorts of designedspaces, and how. I think you figured out something, in the short time of exchange, about this very idea… I think it has always been a lingering thing for me, the notion that your time is valuable and better spent in places where your views are respected and valued, and your ideas are considered and weighed. Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together is one of the books on the old shelf that I used to have, when I had a shelf. When I used to read things… also back in the day… before Krishnamurthi (see below) fell into my hands at an installation that we were doing in a faraway land, thank you JB, for the gift, way back then. From there I began to understand New Things and reprogram my brain to perceive in new ways… More to say. Perhaps in real life. Always the best channel. Cool that we wound up people watching, there at the end… thanks for that.
Two things to share , as sort of footnotes. Ready? Here they are. More next time. Meantime… enjoy the music…. and the rain…. –DK
1. Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. —Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN, is described as ‘a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.).
2. Reflective practice is the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. According to one definition it involves “paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions, by examining practice reflectively and reflexively. This leads to developmental insight”. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is essential.
“Reflective practice can be an important tool in practice-based professional learning settings where people learn from their own professional experiences, rather than from formal learning or knowledge transfer. It may be the most important source of personal professional development and improvement. It is also an important way to bring together theory and practice; through reflection a person is able to see and label forms of thought and theory within the context of his or her work.
“A person who reflects throughout his or her practice is not just looking back on past actions and events, but is taking a conscious look at emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, and using that information to add to his or her existing knowledge base and reach a higher level of understanding. —Wikipedia on Reflective Practice
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…
FOR A WHILE, I used to work in newsrooms. A weekly alternative paper in Europe from 2002-2004, then a Seattle daily from 2004-2005. I remember walking away from them for many reasons, but there was definitely a feeling that I had way back then that is resonant in something I found today online. This, from Yahoo News:
The BBC has issued an apology after Stacey Dooley[ (who has been criticised in the past for her perceived lack of knowledge or understanding while presenting various documentaries*)] referred to a Muslim prayer gesture as an “Isis salute” in a documentary broadcast last night (Monday 5 August)… The offending scene, which showed Dooley using the term “Isis salute” to describe women raising their fingers in the air, was cut from the programme after being used in the documentary..
..However, the raised index finger is a symbol of Tawhid, meaning “the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the Universe”. The gesture is a common part of Islamic prayer, and has been used by a number of Muslim football players during goal celebrations.
TellMamaUK, a social media watchdog for anti-Muslim incidents, condemned the moment and tweeted: “To reduce such a fundamental and important concept to a mere ‘Isis salute’ is grossly wrong, ignorant and damaging.”
Award-winning BBC journalist Anisa Subedar tweeted: “Does Stacey Dooley know us Muslims raise it every time we pray (that’s five times a day) to remind us of the oneness of God?
“This is what happens when you pass over real journalists to cover these kinds of stories — those that require cultural sensitivity and compassion.
“What happened here is insulting and offensive to Muslims and journalists.”
Journalist Oz Katerji tweeted the BBC’s response after he submitted a complaint, and linked the mistake to a lack of diversity in newsrooms.
“While I am disappointed Stacey herself has not apologised, I am satisfied with the BBC response and will draw a line under this here,” he said.
“I have no doubt that this retraction was prompted not by me, but by dozens of female Muslim BBC journalists that were also offended and expressed their feelings about it. I can’t stress this enough, newsrooms need to be diverse, and if you hire more diverse staff, this won’t happen.