S P A C E | Đà Lạt • ‘Tìm Mình Trong Thế Giới’ is the next in our weekly e-zine series. It is set to release on Tuesday.
DK Director Dipika Kohli made the drawing on the cover this week. The drawing’s title is: Chúc Ngủ Ngon & Chào Buổi Sáng / Good Night & Good Morning.
A line artist for many years, Kohli has rekindled her old style of drawing by putting pencil to page again. This [cover] drawing is part of a series of more than fifty new pencil and colored pencil works. These were created in quiet moments, on the spot, in several cafes and brightly lit atelier spaces she discovered while in ‘The Great Lockdown’ (so far) in Đà Lạt, Việt Nam. Kohli had plenty of time alone to write, draw, and reflect, whilst also working on a new book, End of the Rainbow (Kismuth Books / forthcoming 2020).
Thiseffort has come out of the slowing down, a natural outcomeresulting from the first and second waves of covid19-related measures to maintain social distancing, and self-isolating, in the era of this, the Great Lockdown, so far. Kohli has been in the Central Highlands since April—and continues to discover and make. In bursts, that is. And only when inspired by the chance encounter and surprisingly enriching dialogues with the people in the places where she goes. S P A C E is a weekly zine. It is created by Design Kompany, which was started in 2004 in Seattle and today is based in Phnom Penh. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, for unexpected and random connexion, with the people, objects, and places where they go, in S P A C E.
This issue’s title is ‘Continuous Partial Attention,’ a term that was coined, according to Wikipedia, by Linda Stone. Special thanks to Stone for allowing DK to quote from her work on the center spread, of this zine.
Why this topic? Well! Glad you asked. As anyone who knows DK personally knows, we prefer attentiveness, intention, selectivity, and, of course, our signature personality trait: focus. Exploring deeply into this topic of ‘continuous partial attention,’ we decided to go back and pull a favorite old story from our archives to redistribute this week.
The lead story for this issue is, ‘Undefined,’ by Michael Bridgett, Jr. His work features in other issues of S P C, including Issue #46 ‘An Art of the Moment’ and many more, as he was a contributing editor and early collaborator in helping DK find its footing towards the making of more and better S P C.
Michael Bridgett, Jr.
‘I believe in the power of spontaneity and improvisation–the creation of something powerful in the moment,’ says Michael Bridgett, Jr., also known as Mike Dynamo, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Phnom Penh. ‘And possibly never to be seen again. It allows me to be fully present. When I perform, I draw on the energy of the crowd and the people around me, amplify it, and give that energy right back, ten-fold. It’s my superpower… In my writing, I strive for honesty, speaking about things that many don’t like to talk about. I want to make people think about their assumptions, because assumptions are a direct result of not being present and not engaging with what is in front of you. Of course, sometimes I just want to riff on video games, comics, and movies I love and analyze.’ mikedynamo.wordpress.com
S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Continuous Partial Attention’ is ready to share !
Today, we share the newest issue of our weekly zine, S P C. It is Issue #75, S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here.’
Our feature artist this time is Napisa Leelasuphapong.
Her photography is on the cover, and inside pages, too.
Photography, cultural identity and S P C
About the photography: ‘It talks about the way Thai elites in the period of colonisation borrowed the Western coloniser perspective,’ explains Leelasuphapong, ‘in looking at native villagers as ‘the others’; identifying them as barbarians to negatively identify themselves as civilised persons.’
She is referring to an academic article, ‘The Other Within,’ by Thongchai Winichakul. Getting more and more curious, we reached out to the author, who helped us learn more about the idea of place vis-a-vis a nation’s identity. You can find a Q&A with Winichakul about his 1993 article ‘The Other Within’ inside this issue,
The lead story is by DK Director Dipika Kohli, and is a first-person account of the experience going to Bangkok and discovering, on the spot, ‘In the Margins.’ Ahead of the publication, the conversations on email were very interesting and fun and also made us really get focused on what S P C is, and aims to be ‘So far, S P C has been about discovery–going to the field, seeing what we find, whom we meet, and finding ways to “create aesthetic moments, together”… which just means, did something cool happen.
‘Conversations with depth, exchanges of value… it doesn’t always turn into anything—occasionally places feel uncomfortable, or unsafe, or unwelcoming!–but we can take what we feel from discovering, deeply, not trivially, and investigating in one spot for a time and turn those feelings into issues of our zine. A few favorites for me are S P C | Brooklyn, ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, which was a great co-creation, and S P C | Aarhus, ‘Janteloven’–one of the early ones. It’s still figuring itself out, of course, but more and more, it’s designed to invite and include *new* and *different* others to connect, and interconnect us, in remarkable moments.’
To be really honest, not that many people read our zine, or subscribe… we had a big idea about ‘meet the world’ in our crowdfunding campaign a few years ago, but I think… we were idealistic. That’s okay. Still managed to continue making it, and publishing every week, too. Made an instagram, some people seem to like that, instagram.com/dkompany... More to say if you want to hear more. Ask us.
S P C | Bangkok, ‘The Last Copy is for Reading Here’
I have been reading and researching. Not really in a deep way, or anything. Just reading Wikipedia pages about a few concepts that might or might not relate to a new work I’ve been offline to fashion. Out of myriad notes, some of them going all the way back to the time I did a writers’ workshop with my friends at Fish Publishing in Bantry, County Cork, waaaaayyyy back in the days that the Celtic Tiger was still aroar.
Thank you for creating Fish and the workshop, Clem Cairns. Thank you also, Maisie Parker, for encouraging me to apply and to actually go. Was so glad I did. I still remember that. We did a focused 20-minute writing session. I wrote a thing. I still have it. I am using it to craft the new work; ‘Penumbras’ is a section. Maybe.
Writing is all rewriting, they say, but sometimes writing is pushing the envelope so that a thing goes beyond its weak initial first draft and becomes more… developed. I really wish I could spend five hundred hours telling everyone what I feel ‘developed’ means. Work has to go into it. Love. Honesty. So as to arrive at something that has… more… gravitas. Than just a thing you made in 5 minutes or over a weekend or while you were in quarantine. You wrote a book in your week off ? Okay, so?
Meaning. Depth. Artfulness. And more: these things come when you spend time with your writing and your ideas, right? But for me, the work of developing story isn’t something I do alone all day and all night. It’s something I do in collaboration with others; that’s my way. That’s how I roll. Virtual communities that work for me are the ones here in S P C and also Kismuth. There are some great people I’ve met on my very many journeys in life, and now, I’m feeling really good about having the exact set of people in my world that I know will help me become a better storyteller because they know me, my work, and how I relate to them, and theirs.
We’re going to change it up quite a lot around here at DK in the coming months. That’s because we don’t need to do Atelier S P C anymore, nor do we have to invite the new and different to engage with us. We have discovered the new, we have emerged with the different. There is no need to keep making invitations.
A shift of phase
Thank you F, M, C, A, and R, for the recent conversations and exchanges on emails. Good stuff. Going offline again now. But just know that I’m well, here, where I am, and trust that things are good for you whenever this note lands. See you in the cloud.
This week, we finished the issue S P A C E | Kuala Lumpur, ‘Project Epicurus.’
Releasing it today.
It’s a pretty cool collaboration between London-based artist-author-poet Ilyas Kassam, and DK’s BOSS + Dipika Kohli.
Cover art is a painting by Kassam.
Learn more about how we found our way to co-creating an unexpected piece, which began with a chat window, an hour of complete quiet, monsoon rains, and the start of this issue’s jointly made poem, ‘Ionic Jazz.’ Get it in this issue.
Every Tuesday since December’s start last year I’ve been sharing a new issue of our online magazine, S P A C E.
Today’s is S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’.
Collected bits from the road, including wisdom from people I run into, like this 80-year-old man who wanted to talk about life and give me advice, on a tour last year in Melakka…
‘Don’t hurry through things, don’t disappear on people. Wait for the miracle. That’s a Grateful Dead song, “Looking for the Miracle”, but I edited it. Anyway, life advice? Be honest. With yourself, and with other people.’
–80 year-old guest of a guesthouse in Melaka, Malaysia, in response to DK’s question, ‘Do you have any life advice?’
For those who like travel writing, this is the issue to get.
I worked super hard on the lead story, a longform one called ‘Paper Funnel’.
Writing the story as I find it
As always, it’s still creative nonfiction, but it’s getting tighter, thanks to editorial input and proofreading and copywriting and just general advice from those who know my writing, and me, pretty damn well, by now.
The story inside will be published in October’s issue of Saathee Magazine, which is in Charlotte NC, and for whom I’ve been writing a monthly column about where I am, at the moment, on the spot.
Get everything in this edition of the printer-friendly S P A C E.
Download it, fold it, and sew it to make your own at home.
Today, when the world is growing ever smaller through the spectacular development of the Internet and the increasingly rapid flow of economic interchange, we find ourselves in a pressing situation whereby, like it or not, our very survival depends on our ability to exchange cultural methodologies on an equivalent basis. To turn toward a stance of national exclusivity, regionalism, or fundamentalism, in which nations become isolated politically, economically, culturally, or religiously could bring about unimaginable dangers on a worldwide scale. If only in that sense, we novelists and other creative individuals must simultaneously broadcast our cultural messages outward and be flexible receptors of what comes to us from abroad. Even as we unwaveringly preserve our own identity, we must exchange that which can be exchanged and understand that which can be mutually understood. Our role is perfectly clear.
—Haruki Murakami,2006, in an introduction to the collected stories Rashomon and others, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’ launches today in S P A C E, our crowdfunded, no-ads, member-supported weekly digital zine. Since we’re almost finished with our first 12-issue set, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment,’ it’s a good time to take a pause and try to grasp what the issues have been about. So far: new photography, new poetry, co-created works with people far and near, and the essay style that sometimes bleeds into metaphysical explorations that we like to do with people we know, and know well, in very small circles. It’s a story that really I could elaborate on, but only if the right moment came up, in the right place and time, and if I felt like it. That’s the mood, generally, with these small issues, too. They’re snapshots: captures, in a way, of the way it felt to be there, then, and with the people who happened to pass through our porous boxes of S P A C E. It’s fun, light, and sometimes revelatory. Because when we make space together, we learn more… about ourselves. Funny how that works. But yeah. I like it. I’ll take it. Next series, S P A C E | Spring, 2019, ‘The Book of New Things,’ is now scheduled and the list of what you can expect to see is at this crowdfunding page.
‘What is S P A C E, DK?’
I remember when this was getting going, and people were like, ‘But what IS it?’ And I was like, ‘Who the hell knows at the start of a thing what it’s about? You just have to get a ticket, book that thing, get on the bus, and get going.’
With the help of a stellar and carefully invited editorial and creative team, who co-created with me and through patient meanders into the ‘what it could be’ dimension as well as playful brainstorms in sketches, drafts, and various iterations of a thing that was beginning to become something, a great instance of conception took place. That’s just the creative process, isn’t it? Mucking around until you hit on the ‘a-ha.’ Then, you’re getting started.
Architect friends and I love to talk about this, the charette. Jazzy friends and I share a love for the jam session. Chess players call this ‘the big game.’ Travel companions I spend more time with than others also love the ‘getting lost in order to find center.’ The artist in me loves this exploration and discovery phase. The designer in me is ready to stop that once the concept gets settled, hit the ground, and build a box.
That box is S P A C E.
Inside the box
What’s inside is not something that I need to write down and tell people who don’t know me well. It’s just… not that kind of thing. It’s a party, it’s an invited space, it’s warm, and its goal is to welcome and include those who commit to making time and space to show up. This happens. In real life, in small magic moments, in shared online circles of conversations that move, and occasionally, on the spot, when it feels like becoming a thing. S P A C E is a jam session, in a big way, to design the aesthetic moment.
Not for everyone, of course.
But then, so what?
It is what it is. And that’s it.
‘The Prospect of Beauty’
It’s a very limited edition one, this time. Just for members of S P A C E, and our handful of collaborators in S P A C E, too. This edition was co-created by BOSS and DipikaKohli. This issue is made with great care, and it’s dedicated to my father, Ravinder Kohli. It’s a long story, but we put it down in a poem, ‘Bluely,’ which I think says it all.
INSIDE. ‘Bluely’ puts that long-awaited moment of reconnexion into words better than my other written pieces, I feel. It’s a different way of saying the things that I have said to many people across timezones and who hold vastly different worldviews. In sum: doing what you have to do to be true to who you are. Long story. But… maybe there will be resonance. Maybe you will know what I mean, if you’ve ever had to do something very hard, so very hard that it made you turn away from the people you loved, especially the very person who most taught you to do what your heart called you to do, and who, knowingly or un-, had gone on to inspire you to become an artist. Who showed by example that you can’t sit still, because there’s way more out there to look at, explore, experience, and discover. It’s about that capacity to still stay open, despite gaining in years, to choose to still be curious, to continue to self-develop in order to keep learning new things. And to learn to love learning… And that the going and seeing is a big part of living. And that if you don’t… well.
A NEW ART. Despite the differences, in philosophy and style, and despite five years of stubborn silence, this happened… in Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty.’ Special thanks, too, to the people whose paths we crossed quite by accident, whose counsel and friendly advice then informed the direction this very special issue of S P A C E then took. I would list them here but that might be a little awkward. Then again, people like being acknowledged, right? Maybe I’ll put them in the zine. People don’t know, sometimes, how much their words can really mean. And like Max Planck said, ‘When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.’
Meet new people. Make a zine. Share the journey of the creative process over this unique, once-off weekend conversation salon cum real life workshop. We’ll meet three times over the 3-day weekend workshop. Date, time, and place to be shared with those who are selected to take part. We’ll add the final works to our S P A C E || Cambodia collection, which has featured at the Singapore Writers Festival and the Georgetown Readers and Writers Festival, in 2017. Discover more when you apply. Apply here.
ONE OF THE FUNNEST things about being in the middle of Finland all summer is listening to Radio Nova. I’m not kidding. I really like it. I don’t know. I think it’s because of all these 1990s songs, hit songs, stuff I haven’t heard since… well… then. I don’t listen to the radio much except when I’m in places that are otherwise rather remote or quiet or just the sound of the new language is interesting to hear. Pieced between the many announcements, often about ‘summer,’ because I am beginning to pick up a few words (‘Friday,’ ‘good,’ ‘let’s see then, maybe,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘mind peace’), there is stuff like A-Ha. I’m listening to’ Take On Me’ Great video–do you remember that? I remember that. I remember being very, very intrigued. Drawing and animation and this song. This song. I’m listening to it right now. I was going to link to the YouTube but you know what, they have these stupid ads now, and they have tracking, and it’s annoying–and—wow that’s a high note—and it’s been… really interesting to hear how people listen to songs like Roxette‘s Listen to Your Heart and Sinéad O’Connor‘s Nothing Compares 2 U. Plus that one that’s been playing all summer and is ‘oh, you don’t need to know the words, it’s like all the Finnish songs, about being sad and lonely and depressed and wanting to commit suicide…’
BLAST FROM THE PAST. Nineties music. Nice to hear it all. Zining while listening to this stuff reminds me of something else.
Mix tapes. Collaging. Curating. Sharing. Now you just queue things up on Soundcloud, in a playlist. Or?
Thinking about all that, all those things. Listening to the ‘Hot 9 at 9’ back home. One of the places that used be home, but isn’t now, I guess, would be more accurate. Talking about Home in one of our online forums. Talking about Arrivals. Talking about Slow Moments. Talking, talking, writing, writing. Listening to the radio and drinking coffee at 11:25PM and wondering where the sun went. It is the first time this summer that I’ve needed to turn on the lights.
Bicycling home last night from karaoke, too. First time I had cycled in the dark.
Next, I’m pretty sure, Radio Nova will play us some Michael Jackson. Annie are you okay…
We think of art in such a variety of ways that it is virtually impossible to come up with anything close to a universal definition. Case in point, I typed in “art is” in Google search and the hive mind finished my sentence with options like “essential to life,” “dead,” and “in bakery.” Then there was my personal favorite, “an explosion.” Art is… formless in a way, but at its best it is communicative, illustrative, and transformative. In being those things, it can also be subversive, disruptive, and even destructive. Art simply “is,” and yet we continually invent new reasons for it to exist. So why do we art? After all,
It’s not like it’s going to make you rich.
It’s not like it’s going to change the world.
It’s not like it’s going to make a difference.
It’s not like it’s going to make you happy.
It’s not like it’s going to make you feel better.
It’s not like it’s going to give you a reason to live.
…save for when it does, which is kind of all the time.
And I’m going to send it to just the five of us, and that’s it.
It’s called A Song for Jean Rhys.
Jean Rhys inspired the work, in a big way, of hosting The Mirror.
Writing needn’t be about mass producing, or selling, or convincing, or debunking. Sometimes, writing can just be about sharing. Making a quiet space, and letting that be enough. Enough. Letting things slow and experiencing this here, this now, is enough… What if that could be a philosophy?
Asia for five years now. You let go a little bit of the old programmes. I know I’ve written that somewhere before, but it isn’t a bad thing to underscore it. Letting go of the programmes. To see, finally, when we can make space, to be together for a time, to listen and to share, that’s neat. That’s being here, being here now. Some people who have mentored me have shown me the ways to try to include the quiet spaces in my everyday, and indeed, to let them take the center stage. Stillness. Quieting. I’m living next to temples. I’m learning to stay the journeys now, without abruptly quitting a person, time, or place. But… Selectively. The small poem is ‘A Song for Jean Rhys.’ It isn’t for sharing here, but there, in our closed circle, where things have gone from small and simple maybe things to wow, this is good, this is right things. Is this intimacy?… is this beauty? Is this the whole thing of Art?
SOME DISTANT DAY. Big questions, but we don’t have to resolve anything. Rilke said, to the young poet, don’t ask so many questions, but let yourself live your way toward the answers… Of course he said it better, but it’s past midnight and the scrap of paper I had written it on is, oh, no, wait! I typed it! In Cameron Highlands! Here… Indexed, searched… found:
Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Do not… seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’ —Rilke’s letters to a young poet
A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Penang to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.
LIVING IN or traveling through Malaysia? Join Design Kompany for a weekend getaway in Cameron Highlands. You’ll be part of an international traveling atelier to make zines in different cities and locations around the world. We will be in Cameron Highlands to make S P A C E || Cameron in late December, 2017. What’s involved, who will come, and how it will play out will be determined based on the people who show up. Google ‘open space technologies’ to see how open space unconferencing works. Learn more and ask us anything when you apply through the form, below. A short-course zinemaking popup. Max: 8.
PRINTED MATTERS is a conversation. About printed matters. And about matters of printing. Playfulness is a prerequisite but this is for word-nerds, print-nerds, design-and-arts-and-crafts-nerds.
Atelier S P A C E is a zine-makery on-the-move, a global conversation about local voices, local stories. People getting together, sharing things, and creating something special, to them, for them, and by them. In a curated open circle.
Intrigued? Come join this pre-event, where we explore printed media and other high-octane cultural mumbo-jumbo in A Spaice’s hallmark playful, casual space-setting.