Issue #39: S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’

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’.

Order here

 

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.

Order this issue of S P A C E

The aesthetic moment

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…

Here is a track from their band…

HT Inese Bērziņa [instagram | facebook]

 

 

 

 

What is the role of the artist? To ‘exchange and understand’

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

The things in S P A C E

THE STORY IN A NUTSHELL. Going to different parts of the world, mostly Southeast Asia and Northern Europe, to discover the interestingness. And I mean, interesting to me. I look for the contemporary aesthetic, but also, what the people are telling me who are ready to share, honestly and from the heart, in very short impromptu bursts. (A very close friend of mine says what I do is have a series of ‘one-chat stands,’ which, I guess, is pretty accurate.) There is an intimacy there, but it is fleeting. Indeed, ephemera is one of the keywords of our weekly e-mag, S P A C E, which is up to 22 issues now, and all of them are in our online store.

Searching for the story

People tell me all kinds of things, you wouldn’t believe it. But it is not my goal to put their stories verbatim into text: that is boring, uncreative, and unoriginal. That is outdated. ‘He-said, she-said’ reporting bored me utterly when I used to work as a reporter, for about two years at a weekly and then two more at a daily. I wanted more. I wanted the earnestness and inspiration, the road, the journey, a bit of creative and artistic license, the travel (but not the instagram-porn kind) rather that which is learned when you spend time in a place (and which someone in Thailand once called ‘slow travel’ which I thought was a cool way to put it), and I wanted, more than all of those things: sincerity. Ergo: creative nonfiction, made in situ, on the spot, out of the collage that is real life (and paper, sometimes, too).

Richness and complexity aside, there was that magical element that was missing, all that time, when I was running around, floating, writing things, here and there, wanting desperately to hit a mark but not knowing which one or where in the hell it was even close to. But then, in 2017, I went to Battambang in Cambodia and stayed four nights and five days, offline, exploring the story. Decding I would compose something on the spot, based now whatever conversation happened to fall into my world, and whatever bits of paper, stories, books, or ‘miscellaneous’ wandered into my world. In this way I wrote, ‘Here Comes the Dance,’ a very short short about the Age of Anxiety and a thirtysomething I had met in a hotel common space who was very happy to talk at length and without pause about it, which I had welcomed, and the other things, bits from books, that found their way into that very first issue of S P A C E. I can talk more about that another time when I am not in a place with people taking lots of camera photos around me, this is my cue to cut this short and go now, I have to get some new pictures for new issues of S P A C E that are getting made now. Here in Latvia. A lot of things.

But suffice to say, the story is the journey, of discovery and. Much, much more. More soon. Oh, look at that. Right now, just now, starting… a parade? There is a flash mob going by me, now, with bubble-blowers.

My gosh. I love Rīga.

Photo: First zine made in Rīga, April 2019. Short post about arriving to this city is here. Picture taken by A. Spaice

S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’

 

‘The Third Place’, a zine made at Atelier S P A C E | SG, 2017

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.

S P A C E the zine

 

‘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.

Atelier S P A C E | Singapore, 2017

‘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 Dipika Kohli. 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.

Singapore, 2014

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.’

Get ‘The Prospect of Beauty’ when you join us this week in S P A C E.

New traffic

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.

Shifts

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, as much as 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.’

No.

But through the process of trusting the process, I found out what is.

Writing. Sharing. Every single week.

New currencies

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

S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’

Philosophy is sometimes described as the conscious examination of life, so we humans can be aware enough of what surrounds us in order that we may make qualified decisions. By so doing, we can choose to exclude or include certain experiences or design our societies. Yes: design them, so that we (plants, animals, et al, too) can all live more pleasurably.

 

How DK are making S P A C  E

In this issue, new photography from Brussels, taken by S P A C E  art director Jānis Žguts, is paired with an essay by S P A C E  culture editor Michael Bridgett, Jr., and line artwork of Dipika Kohli that’s been curated by BOSS. It’s a collaboration that began loosely in 2016, at dk‘s conversation salons, ‘Rooftop Philosophy’ and ‘True Connexion,’ both held in Phnom Penh, and has evolved from the seed of a simple, open-format invitation: ‘Who wants to talk, in real life, together, about this, perhaps with other people we don’t yet know?’ (From there, new conversations about what philosophers invite us to mull over emerged, evolved, and expressed themselves in short bursts of extended query, or over monthslong quiet spaces where the team could reflect in permutations, both separately, together, and with others, too.) Such conversation spacemaking is exactly what S P A C E is designed to invite. •   

How to get S P A C  E | Brussels

Get this issue when you subscribe to S P A C E this week: learn more at our crowdfunding page.

Contributors

Michael Bridgett, Jr.
mikedynamo.wordpress.com

Jānis Žguts
janiszguts.com

Dipika Kohli
dipikakohli.com

Slowing down to see

Trying new things. Nurturing our community. Building something real. Together. In S P A C E.

Pictured is a zine, one of our limited-edition ones that DK had made over the summer of 2018 in the long days of light in northern Finland. A bunch were on display for a time on International Zine Day, at our new friend Eveliina Karsikas‘ Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki. I got to know her because of lots of things, starting promptly with a shared interest in bright colors. The place was brand new, and she was just getting going. Being me (but only when I find a place and person that I really enjoy chatting with), I offered a zinemaking workshop, not often done around there. Surprisingly people actually came, we had cake and coffee and made zines together, and colored into miniature zine-coloring-books while mostly just enjoying real life and real time, together.

The gifts

THEN, the zine traveled with me, north to Rovaniemi.

Which was where I met Karoliina Erkinjuntti, of the curious and talented collective Alice in Northernland. Out of the blue, on a rare whim, I offered her a trade. Could I give her this zine, in exchange for some of her postcards?

She said yes.

So, cool. We were gonna trade our art pieces. I haven’t done that since art school.

Or maybe writing all those letters, they were like little pieces of art, back in the day between a particular spot in North Carolina and wherever I was in the world. But that was… the  1990s. Still, from those early days of sharing mutually of ourselves and our expressions through our words and papers and collages and drawings, I know that whenever my artist friends trade things with me, we actually take notice of it, and then, it’s valued.

(Aside: Earlier in the summer of 2018 in Finland, another person, an artist from Belgium, a painter, had asked me what I do with all of the things I make because aren’t there sure a lot and I said yes and I don’t know really just keep ’em around mostly but try to share them if I can, too, and she said some other things and then something about burning the works. Burning them? That seems… awfully… well.)

In Rovaniemi, at that moment, in that spot, winding down from my journey through the experience of three very bright months in the most northerly place I’ve ever been, inspired and recharged, I remember it was nice. The feeling that we could get along in this world without something as crass to quantify our works as silly things like green pieces of paper. Or colorful ones, this being euros we were talking about, in Finland… I guess I got into that little argument mostly because of this feeling. That work is work: and money is not a quantifier of what makes something good. Money is just… oh, but that’s another jam.

So big. And we’re so brainwashed about so much of it. ‘Money’s value,’ work, art, that thing’s value… there is a lot to unpack here. I remember talking a lot about this when I first met Michael Linton of Open Money; he was a speaker at something in Seattle and later he and his team consulted with us about brand design, and brand messaging. Which was also a trade, I think, or maybe we just… well I think… it’s not like it matters… I learned a ton from his team. And on Open Money’s website it says it straight:

Money is just information, a way we measure what we trade, nothing of value in itself. And we can make it ourselves, to work as a complement to conventional money. Just a matter of design.

Awakenings

I THINK EVERYTHING changed, for us, here at DK, philosophically and in the way we approached new projects and people, when we heard Linton say, ‘Money is a vector. It goes up and down.’

With that short proclamation, which drew sharp intakes and gasps from the hundreds gathered there, for me, the  accumulation of green pieces of paper and that’s what I call them, you know, well, yeah, this stuff, which is what some of us have been programmed to think is what is desirable, became far, far less important, and going broke (or below) wasn’t such a big deal or even a point of shame, either. Despite what one might think. What is value, what is work, what is art? This coming Tuesday we’ll share in S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’ some of the gleanings from recent dialogues on the topic of value, work, and art.

Good fun. I’ll save the deeper discussions for the private spaces of our forums. Some of us are already well underway talking together in a forum called ‘Strange Geometries.’ In a small, inner circle of S P A C E. Which of course is what I had promised, at the end of 2018, when the earliest adopters of it joined DK in S P A C E.

A final note: of gratitude. Thank you Karoliina and Eveliina. For trusting me, and sharing your time and art. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s trusting the process. (If you see this, someday, know that I’ve not forgotten our exchanges. Maybe we can continue one day. I’m thinking of getting back to Finland for 2019…)

Comments are open, for a bit…

Winter 2018-19: ‘The Work of Art’

Line art by Aubrey Beardsley. DK first discovered these drawings at an exhibition in London 1999. They sent DK inspired with pen and paper, looking for space in flat, matte composition while exploring the negative space in which ‘anything is possible.’ ‘Anything is possible’ was the studio’s first tag line, in 2004.

In search of meaning


E X P L O R I N G _ T H E _ A R T
of
Human Relationship

 

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.


Publication schedule

Into the Quiet

4 December
S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘ The Book of Slow Moment’

11 December
S P A C E | Oulu, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’

 

Finding the stillness.


Encounters

18 December, 2018
S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence’

 Living in Cambodia: then and now.


Companionship

1 January, 2019
S P A C E | Tampere, ‘Miia’

8 January, 2019
S P A C E | Kyoto, ‘One Moment Cafe’

Alexis Jokela’s follow-up story, set in Tampere, to Jokela’s July piece, ‘A Summer Love Story’


Mirth

15 January, 2019
S P A C E | Helsinki, ‘Coat Check’

22 January, 2019
S P A C E | Brussels, ‘The Work of Art’

A. Spaice goes to Helsinki to discover 16 random strangers and talk to them, at a once-off conversation salon on the theme, NEUROSIS. Here’s what happened.


Enchantment

5 February, 2019
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Arctic Circle”

12 February, 2019
S P A C E | Berlin, ‘Strange Geometries’

A jaunt to Lapland, unplanned and spontaneous, lands a pair of wanderers at the gateway of an unmistakably enchanted forest. Inspired by H. C. Andersen’s description in The Snow Queen of ‘Finnmark’. 


Subtlety

19 February, 2019
S P A C E | Singapore, ‘The Prospect of Beauty’

26 February, 2019
S P A C E |  Malmö, ‘Vakt’

What makes something beautiful? Looking with a microscope for ‘the remarkable’ in a money-obsessed island.


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Zinemaking workshop: Atelier S P A C E || Phnom Penh

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.

Ira Glass and Neil Gaiman on the creative process

TODAY I AM CONTINUING to think about the creative process. It’s a follow-up from two things:

Science podcaster JR talks with DK on the work it takes to get good.

Exploring without knowing

MAKE 2, a conversation salon hosted by Dipika Kohli // Durham NC 2011

THE CREATIVE PROCESS itself was the subject of two conversation salons in Durham, NC: MAKE and MAKE II. ‘What is the creative process? Who uses it? What changes as a result?’ We had a dozen guest speakers at those two events; and a crowd. I can’t believe it, still, thinking back, that when I first returned to the Raleigh-Durham region after a decade away to throw the ‘do that we called MAKE how almost 100 people drove in from far and near vertices of the Triangle to connect, converse, listen, and learn.

Was just marvelous, that time, so we hosted the same event a year on.

MAKE and MAKE II were occasions, to me, the kind that I wouldn’t forget. I had no idea at the time that relational art would become my kind of party, that the being-together was the whole show. That awareness came way later, probably the night I read from the chapter ‘Blankslate’ at a cafe in Phnom Penh–the first chapter of Breakfast in Cambodia, to the group who had gathered that night–‘I know this street, I know that feeling, I know, because I”m here!’–that was the feedback.

And we were. Together, there.

In the moment, in the place that was written in the pages.

Diving in and out of S P A C E.

Yes. There’s a lot of philosophizing I could do here, but I’ll get back to the story of MAKE.

BEING THERE. I still remember JW, a sculptor and guest panelist at the first MAKE, talking about birds and the beautiful metaphor he gave us that day about how the creative process is like a flight. I can’t properly fit the whole feeling here… I couldn’t eloquently state it here; you simply had to be there, that’s what these salons are for, after all—the real life, real time experience. A co-created improvised play, which happens on the spot, and which ends in rather no time at all. Ephemera and the heightened moment of the urgent, sequestered ‘now.’ Oh, no. I’m getting philosophical. Well, let me save that sort of talk for another day. Perhaps this one, in Phnom Penh.

 

Two videos

EVERY SO OFTEN, and this happened just last night, someone says something that reminds me of the existence this video that someone made, animating radio host Ira Glass‘ thoughts on the creative process. Of course any mention of IG makes me remember JK‘s story about picking the man up from the airport and getting starstruck–too funny. JK, what are you up to where you are? What are you making lately? Questions I would foist your way, if we were in good e-communciation. I’m still around to talk about these kinds of things, you know. Hopefully in a comment thread to come, over here. But yeah. The video.

Here it is:

 

FILE UNDER ‘RESOURCES.’ Personally, I just like to ‘do’ the creative process. Instead of just diving in and making something, which is my usual habit when I have this kind of focus time, today, I’m writing to people around the world whose work I think is curious, and whose perspective I’d love to hear when it comes to questions about the creative process, why we make anything, and what we’re doing this for. It’s a big question, of course. The point is not to get ‘popular,’ for me, anyway, or ‘rich.’ I just want to make good art. Did you see that video, ‘Make Good Art?’? SK had sent it to me, right before I left the States. I must say it was a contributing factor to the decision to get going on the road, indefinitely, without a fixed income, savings, or a plan. But yeah. I found a link. Here’s the YouTube video:

 

For further reading?

SUGGESTIONS?

Anyone have further resources to add?

Please leave a comment with your link. Really would be great if you could point me to some people who aren’t white men, hey. I’ve been looking but it’s tough–women and people who aren’t white tend to just simply not get the spotlight as often. Imagine! But it’s true. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, with things to say. Help us find the important stories? Connect with me or just leave a comment below. I love the interactive part of writing this whole blog thing, because it’s not a flat space, we’re evolving it as we add to it. The geometry of a space is the set of all points within that space. And: S P A C E changes because you’re there. It’s kind of fun to think about physics and space, spacemaking and the fourth dimension. I can talk more about that, sometime. Let’s get to know each other, though, a bit first.

Thanks! Comments are open for a bit.

This post and other stories are made possible by support of members of S P A C E. Discover more here.

 

 

Trust the process

IN THIS POST, I will share with you some of the current thinking behind ‘At rest while in motion,’ but also, walk you through the actual in-the-moment journey of how one goes about trying to figure out the vague answer to the superlative question, ‘What am I doing?’

This last because it is a question that pops up a lot in the conversations I have with people in a very short space of time: ‘DK, tell me what to do now. You seem to have things figured out.’ Er. Hardly.

Those who know me personally know that I’m hardly well put-together; behind-the-scenes, I am a bundle of bits of paper, slips of notebooks that go in boxes, some of which I’ve lost track of, and all of which are existing in perhaps dusty, surely disquiet collections in patches, tucked away in the nooks and apartment closets, houses and spare rooms of very nice people (and sometimes relatives, wow), who take them in and hold them for me, indefinitely, until it is time to revisit with the old material and see how it fits with the new.

I guess I have something figured out, though, if I’m honest about it. Since 2013 I’ve been ‘on the road, indefinitely, with no fixed income, plans, or savings.’ And DK started in 1994, and then became an LLC in 2005, which was the last time I had a 9-6 day job. So, what does that mean? Well, when it comes to answering one question I think I have a thing or two to say. The question being, ‘How to take a step out, when you’ve no idea where you are going…’ Mmm-hmm. Story. Of my life.

But wait. I’m getting off on some random tangent. Let me talk about the creative process. Let me start with material.

 

Material

‘Internet I Hate You’ popup art installation by DK, Malmoe 2015

MATERIAL IS THE FIRST thing that I am looking at, right now, when I am considering the first thing to do now that I am in one spot, for a time, with the bookings made through at least the end of the weekend, which, in our new state of ‘nomadic drift’, which isn’t new at all, really, but this time, there really are no flats or monthly rentals to contend with nor people who are there to say hello to every day, but rather, the flux. The flow. The movement. I like this, but I also have a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that moves in packs with me; the suitcases are not as heavy as they were in 2013 (left one in Delhi, left one in Bangkok), but they still are there. Taking up room. What to do with all this material? What to keep, what to let go? There are snippets from the deep past, somewhere in a box in Cambodia, there are things from even further back, well before that, art show leftovers in rolls in Raleigh-Durham. I always wondered what I would do with all that stuff. Stuff. So much of it. Might explain why somewhere along the way, I switched from doing print work to going digital only. This is coming around again to the world of somewhat limited edition and very custom, very one-of-a-kind printed stuff, but again, it’s stuff, and that means, ‘What do I do with this?’ It’s been neat sending some things off in the postal service, through the S P A C E || Finland page in our online store. It’s been nice to share things with people in real life, people I’ve just met, people who say, ‘Those are nice. Wait, are you selling them? Great. How much? Okay, that’s fair. I’ll take one of those.’ It’s like giving away kittens, I think. You have a lot of offspring and you don’t know where they’ll go; but you don’t want to just leave them around. You want to find them good homes. And that’s what’s happening. The rest?… the rest is with me. I’ve got an extra bag now. It’s got Moomintroll on it. After all, this was the summer of stuff I made in Finland. But it’s also… good material. For zining. On into the next. I like it when bits and pieces from the last place make their way into the current works. And so, now, I should talk a bit about the creative process.

‘Saved by Wifi’ // Illustration by DK 2014

‘Trust the process’

FOR THE FIRST TEN years of DK, I would always start with a few things with every new client. First, I’d ask for a book recommendation: ‘What book sums the story of you? I’ll go and read it.’ Then, I’d ask for them to have a look at this slideshare, because it’s really quite simple to read through and puts a lot of stuff in perspective. Lastly, I’d ask them to ‘trust the process.’ To trust me, really, to guide the way towards some kind of breakthrough.

That’s not an easy thing to sign up for, but sign up a handful of people did, each year from 2004 until now, which means that’s why DK is still here, existing, making space and now S P A C E (online magazine) and Atelier S P A C E to gather us for short-run weeklong or four-week-long stints of time so as to delve into the exact style of the foray into the creative process that DK had delivered to clients in Seattle, Raleigh-Durham NC, and more recently, in Phnom Penh.

Because I myself am in the midst of a design overhaul here at DK, not unusual because we like to reinvent quite a lot around here, well, I’m taking stock of the materials gathered and looking ahead to 2019. Where shall we take things with DK? Who wants to collaborate with us, who wants to connect in S P A C E? Does S P A C E want to become something different from what it is, right now? Or is it working, as it is? Even in very small circles (which is my personal preference), there are moments of real and true connexion, you can feel it, it’s not just me saying that, and then we get philosophical and talk life and meaning and sometimes about life plans but not in the usual terms, more in… the kinds of words that one allows oneself ot speak when she or he feels at ease. I remember this from a past life, a longago summer, this wild and crazy time of just being, just hanging out, with friends. Before the era of justifying your existence through the use of social media channels, there was just us being around each other talking late into the night maybe with some music going in the background or someone with a guitar, but always, always, always, there was that ease and comfort when you felt like you could just hang out, just chill, just be around people, just be. A long time ago, yes, that I felt that was the norm. Now, what happened? We are distracted and I forget to get back to the work of making S P A C E. At the Form/Space Atelier show I was invited to put together in Seattle (thanks again PP), I remember writing the artist statement and saying something about BTFL SIMPL. Which was: ‘I want people to relax. To feel air, space and comfort.’ That has not changed.

S P A C E for play. S P A C E for conversation. S P A C E for slowing down. S P A C E for the easygoing ‘third place.’ There is so much to talk about. That’s because… there’s so much material. The work now is to sift through all of this and see what makes sense to keep, what to let go. Editing is this. Editing is being aware of the thread that makes the necklace, and letting the string sing while the gems and pearls add to the vocals, rather than distract and detract. The vocals matter. The vocals. Erm. Ah. I sound like DK is some kind of a band. I talk a lot about jam sessions. I talk about jazz. Chords. I guess, in a way, I’m kind of the vocals around here. I’m looking for the baseline, the guitar, the horns, someone bring a triangle, and whatever else you’ve got. Come out and play with us, with the people who are here and ready. Jazzy, light. It’s okay. I don’t have to overthink this. I don’ have to intellectualize. Either you get it, and you want to try it, or you don’t.

And that’s fine. Because, like ES had put it once, it’s not for everyone.

And like RKP had said, ‘Find the art and magic.’

Where’s next?

Exactly.

 

Art of not knowing

Phnom Penh // DK 2014

WHERE IS NEXT? I HAVE NO IDEA.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Just ask N. Bohr (you’ll have to go to Copenhagen and find his grave at Assistens). But for the moment, at the top of the journey of a parabola upon which a ball is tossed upward, there is a spot where the velocity is zero. That means, we’re at rest. That we’ve stopped moving. For that moment, you have the view. The vista, the zenith. Take it all in; look around. See what’s what. But don’t try to put meanings to things that you’re looking back on, and don’t investigate too deeply into what’s next. Because the moment is here, is now. And we are at zero velocity.

Well, from the near-distance view, I see on the horizon: Phnom Penh. For Atelier S P A C E || Phnom Penh.

But… the zenith. The quiet in the height. That’s… to me… that’s beautiful.

That’s where the art begins. Noticing.

Can you dig it?

Comments open, for a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radio Nova, A-Ha, and ‘Take On Me’

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…

16 August | Zines x Coffee at Oulu Arts Night

DK AND FRIENDS TOGETHER co-host the zinemaking popup conversation salon and *happening* ‘Hei Kesä’ in Oulu. This is in collaboration with Kahvila Tuokio and Oulu Taiteiden Yö (Oulu Arts Night).

It was the delightful yellow bright interior of the cafe that got us thinking, ‘This would be a great place to host a zinemaking popup about summer, summer memories, summer stories, love, romance, all that kind of thing, and we’ll do it on 16 August to coincide with the citywide popup that is Oulu Arts Night.’

Kahvila Tuokio. Meet us here on 16 Aug.

An idea. A chance encounter, or two, and voila. Special thanks to Paavo Heinonen for including DK’s event in the Oulu Arts Night programme and conversing with us about how to make it even better. A great collaboration like ‘let’s do this. Let’s make it really fun for people, and let’s talk about who would want to be there, and then, what we can do to design a magic moment.’

That’s what starts all this. Sparkly things like discovering people, places, and the brightness of a yellow interior that feels exactly like ‘Hi, Summer.’

Speaking of, big thanks to Anu Lakkapää at Kahvila Tuokio for offering
the space. DK loved meeting her and talking about her passion for making cakes. Plus, the espresso was really, really good. (A must for any venue DK chooses for our events, hah.)

Cafe Onni x DK in Kärsämäki.

A SERIES. Shout-out, too, to Eveliina Karsikas. Eveliina owns the cake and coffee place Cafe Onni in Kärsämäki, which is relatively new here. If I’m correct, it opened this very summer, and we happened to be in the same town, and found it. The colorful interior here drew our eye and that’s part of why we made a coloring-book to share along with our usual zines. Eveliina had kindly co-hosted this event, ‘Hei Kesä’, with us in that town earlier this summer, on International Zine Day. (See picture at left).

OULU. Now our team is looking forward to getting the popup installed, and opening up the new zine show on 16th. The first part of our programme is a workshop, and there are very limited seats. Tickets are €15, includes materials, plus coffee, for the zinemaking workshop. Here is our schedule for the day. We’ll have all of our new zines with us to showcase and share on the day, too. All were made in Finland this summer, the set we call our S P A C E || Finland collection. Here’s a picture:

 

New zines from S P A C E || Finland collection // DK 2018

16 A U G U S T
1-4PM

Zines. Coffee. Real life.

Hei Kesä
@
Oulu Arts Night

1PM Workshop
€15 (price includes materials, plus coffee)
Ages 16+. Limited seats. Be sure to book in advance to confirm your spot: get tickets here.

3PM Zine Table
(free)


Book your ticket before 14 August, and you’ll get a free copy of the eBook by Alexis Jokela, ‘Kesä rakkausjuttu’.

Full programme of events >

It’s the thread that makes the necklace

IN A PRETTY FASCINATING kind of collage and layering, two things I am discovering are my ‘thing’ while I have 12 whole weeks to sit around and make zines and shoot the breeze whilst listening to the sound of, well, breeze–in aspen, in birch—I am doing something new. A podcast. I know that some people have been telling me that I should do this, for some time now. I know. I heard you. I just… don’t like the idea of… voice. That said, why then, have I recorded my voice over the years, starting from microcasette tapes on that world tour that led to the short film, ‘The India Tapes,’ which some people I knew well in Seattle got to see when it screened at the Tasveer short film festival in that city some time ago. A decade back? Where does the time go? Okay, well, that is a good segue to the next bit.

The zine S P A C E || Singapore // 2017

Intentionality.

Some of the time when I am writing I get all philosophical and esoteric. I ‘lose my audience.’ A lot of people tell me that, too. But then, they listen to my voice recordings, and they’re like, ‘Are you, um. High?’ ‘NO!’

‘Art, to me, is conversation. A very particular kind… the kind that has a certain quality…. the quality of S P A C E.’

OF COURSE NOT. It’s just that when the jam is good, I love a great conversation.  I’m super into it, when there is a high quality of S P A C E, that is, and only then, really… the back-and-forth of it, the improvisation, the silences, the whole thing. I love it. It’s like… my favorite thing, ever. I write in this style because this is how I talk. I know. It’s not straightforward. It’s not direct. It’s not even linear, for feck’s sake. It’s just what it is. And it’s me. Totally, honestly, raw, unedited. These things are very underworked, these blog posts, and now… the podcasting… I’m not going to promise a lot with the audio files. Not because it’s hard to make them: I’m discovering that with Zoom, QuickTime and a couple of friends in other parts of the world to help me push the sound clips together, plus a couple of websites with sweet sound effects (I was going to say ‘fx,’ but I’m not really that trendy), well—it’s easy. Podcasting with Soundcloud is super easy. I don’t have the equipment you would want to have if you were pro, but that’s okay. I’ve never been a big fan of expensive equipment. In fact, everything I make these days is based on what falls to hand. In bricolage style. The stories that I write now (there’s some new stuff coming together for the new zines, one of which launches at Oulu Arts Night on 16 August, and stuff, well, those as well as the visuals come into shape not because I have this predetermined idea of ‘what I’m going to do,’ but because, in the process of looking around and bumping into things, people, materials, magazines, stuff just falls into place, and makes a picture. Not a picture, necessarily, like a photograph, though I do have those now, because of the camera and the ‘Slow Moment’ photo journaling workshop that I’ve been hosting online since the start of June, but other kinds of pictures. Conceptaully, imagine that a conversation is captured and frozen into a moment. Then you spool that moment out. You maybe write some kind of short fiction piece. Or you actually record it and edit it into a sound file. Or make a short video and share it at a festival. Well. There are so many things you can do when you have the essence of the moment and you are able to see the art in it. Not easy, to see things. That’s part of what I talked about with some of the new guests in ‘Slow Moment’, in June, over email and forum-salon conversation spaces. Well, mostly email. Occasionally, a phone call. I am in Scandinavia now so I have so much wifi and since it’s way up here by the Arctic Circle, I also have tons of brightness and tend to be awake 23 out of the 24 hours of the day now. Which renders the time differences and timezones irrelevant.

Mostly.

This is good.

This is leading to some very important and unique moments of catching-up. And going back to the people who most intrigued, or left impressions, or seem to have been on their way to interesting places, back when I met them.

Reconnecting. Rekindling.

Writing letters. Making S P A C E. // 2017

‘It’s the thread that makes the necklace’

I’M EVEN GOING back to some of ht many, many hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written in the past and doing that good thing that all writers must: rewriting. Thank you, Dropbox, for holding all this stuff in your digital vault. I’m ready to dump most of these archives, though. Keep only… the highlights. Because short and sweet is another thing I like. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Zines let me do that. So the zine form—8 pages, nothing more—is a good way to repack some of what I’ve written (while also giving it a little bit of a tweak because when you are younger and writing and when you’ve written much, much more and are writing, you are also able to see the thread, the thread!…. and it’s the thread, after all, that makes the necklace.

Pearls on a string. Here we go. Now it’s not so much about the discovering of the new pearls to add to this thread, as it is feeling like I’ve found what my set is, already, and have closed the loop, and am now going back through the circle, saying ‘hi’ to the many lovely gems of people and places and conversations and… artistic moments… that I’ve been lucky enough to collect. And sharing these new learnings and reopening those stories, but only selectively. Only in S P A C E. To the journeys, the new, the near and the next.

Next in S P A C E, today’s prompt, for ‘Slow Moment.’

Are you wondering where I am? It’s cool to contact me—I’m not that hard to reach. Email me, maybe? Here’s a form.

Feature photo credit: OMNI Studiophotos, 2012

S P A C E || Slow moment

IN A FEW DAYS, I will be starting the salon in our protected-page space, ‘Slow Moment.’ It’s about slowing down. Recharging. Discovering yourself when you make time to show up… for you. No obligations, no ‘to-do’s, and scrapping the idea of ‘getting something accomplished,’ the idea of this particular programme is to let it flow. Flow. So important. I have been talking with people in online conversations for about four months now, setting things up for this special 12-week session. It’s our last online workshop, for the general public, as it just became obvious that for DK, making people be creative isn’t important. What’s important for DK is helping those who have already taken a step, of their own accord, towards some kind of transformative breakthrough. Of course you can’t have a linear path to breakthrough. Or transformative stuff of any kind. Of course it takes work, struggle, sloshing about, tackling vague ideas, throwing most of them away, and starting over, when you recognize that all the work so far has been ‘sketching.’ We call it P L A Y. Playing our way towards the new and the next is what we do around here.

 

Zining in Finland, Cambodia, et al.

ZINING HAS BEEN, for me personally, a way of slowing down. Zining in Finland, in particular. ‘This is Finland,’ said J., whom I met last night at the pub. ‘We just… be.’ Not bad. I really enjoyed our brief chat outside of the place; karaoke was on inside and it was a thin crowd. I cycled over there with my midnight ride in the pretty-bright-still-but-not-like-before light. Mist was out. Mist. This was what we talked about. Small town life. Passerby. Chance encounters. That’s the stuff of gathering the narratives that make S P A C E the zine; showing up to ask the questions and be prepared for anything is the jazzy jam that is Atelier S P A C E. (If I don’t show up for me, how can I ask others to show up for themselves? So I am living the practice. Go where you don’t know anyone. Find out stuff. Ask them things. Talk to people. Learn. Discover. Find a theme. Then, either with guests who are interested in joining in with you or without them, write a short 8-page zine that pulls together the best of that which you pick up, makes it contemporary, gives it a shape, and then, print some of them, and share them.)

Drawing saxophone at Cabaret, a now-closed restobar in Phnom Penh


Pubs are third places. They are where we convene. I know, I know. There is an objective, most of the time. Not me. I’m there for the conversations.

Here where I am about six hours north of Helsinki, things are quiet. Conversations are slow and easy. All around is nature—and it’s handy that you can cycle around to get the things you need. Foodstuffs. Provisions. Euros. It’s convenient, small, and just fine. I am not a stranger to small town life; and this stay has got me remembering all the things about Skibbereen and rural North Carolina that I used to really enjoy. End-to-end rainbows, for example. Which I talked about in the past, here on this blog, when ‘A Slow Moment begins’ got writ.

 

Poetry slams in S P A C E

Click to order the PDF, S P A C E || KL ‘Kaunter Tiket’

WRITING MORE. Zining. Making poems with people around the world. ‘Whatever of philosophy is made into poetry is alone timeless.’ These words—I had quoted them in my TEDx talk, ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’ Something I haven’t admitted out loud anywhere on the public spaces of the blog is this: I was kind of winging that talk, there, at the end. You have to read your audience, right, and see where the feeling is going. You have to see what fits, what’s working, what’s not. It takes time to build up to that. It’s a long, simple crescendo. You get going and you start and you begin to get the feeling. Here is what’s the story. This is where we’re synching. It’s a jam session, to me—even me on the stage felt like that. I was laughing and enjoying myself with the people in the front rows who were laughing and enjoying themselves with me. (Afterwards, a ‘speechmaker’s consultant’ tried to pitch me, and said, ‘You really don’t want to laugh at your own jokes.’ But for me, for DK, for all he things that have become, since, S P A C E, if I don’t laugh, I’m not having fun, and if I’m not having fun, whatever the hell is the point?’ Of course I didn’t ask him to help me. In fact, that was the last time I got on stage, aside from one other time, in the same city on the same stage, in fact, for ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’ Too fun.)

Drawing for the ‘Book of Songs’ to live jazz, Siem Reap

DG said it: ‘Throw away most of the stuff you write, because you know what? It’s bad. I did that. Do you do that? Throw away most of it?’ I nodded. He said, ‘Good.’ DG is a pianist. I get along with piano people, drummers. Maybe because they like to accompany… words. I am the vocals. I realize this now. Words are my thing. Pen is my medium. Whether lines in marker, or cut lines, or lines worked out somehow (it takes a long time sometimes, but other times comes in bursts, like now, unedited and uninterrupted—a story flows)  into poems, or occasional ebooks, I make lines.

Slow moment? For me, bringing the lines into shape. Giving the scaffold in architecture blueprint to the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E. Something to say? Leave a comment, below. Comments are open, until the bots catch on.

DK is making S P A C E, a weekly interactive magazine and an online community for people who are highly engaged with the creative process.

Affirmations

WHAT A FUN DAY.

I didn’t know that we would get together with the small group that we did for our event, but wow. We did. People had warned me: ‘Don’t expect too much; it’s a small town.’ I never expect anything, these days. I mean, with the conversation salons that I host that have such esoteric titling as ‘Rooftop Philosophy,’ for example, or ‘Beauty: what is it, who gets to decide?’ or, hey, this really happened, ‘The Book of Time,’ I never expect anyone

‘The Book of Time’ salon // Photo by DK 2016

to come. But they do. Occasionally, they do.

And when they do, when they self-select to become part of ‘the experience’ as I think of S P A C E now, when I talk about it to my close associates and friends and mentors and when I begin to form budding partnerships with people who are also in the same line of work as me (making space for remarkable connexion), then yeah. It happens… we talk about what brought us out of our daily lives and into the shape of space that lets us slow for a moment, take the time out from the usual, and discover something about ourselves—together. It’s nice.

It really has been a pleasurable day of conversations and slow moments. Even with the new rain. A respite from the heat wave (?) that we were having here in Finland. (Did I say ‘we?’ Hm. How easily I adapt to wherever I am.)

New things.

But.

By invitation only.

From here on, rather than hosting something and asking lots of people to come, and wondering if they will, the new angle will be much more personal. I guess it’s always been more ‘us’ that way, really. The parties in the nineties in Raleigh, for example. Or after that, in West Cork, then Seattle, then Durham NC. The salons in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and a smidge of stuff to begin, perhaps, in Kuala Lumpur. And of course smatterings of things in Scandinavia–where I find myself returning (Sweden, Denmark, now Finland. Norway is next, isn’t it.)

Personal connection, though. Is what we’re into. And we used to do that more. Calling. Writing letters, even. Remember? All of that stuff we used to do before it got social media-y and less ‘call me and I’ll be there’-ish.

Now, returning to the past.

Style.

Of reaching out to just a handful of people, one person at a time, and inviting them to just exactly the kinds of things that DK’s Akira Morita and Dipika Kohli together feel would make sense. For them. In very small circles we can get more deep and more conversational, more quickly. I prefer small scales, really. Small is lovely. You have a good time. You’re making something, together, on the spot, and you’re getting to participate more when there are fewer people. As a host, I like it this way. Super opt-in. Relaxed. Low-key.

Taking the concepts, learning, gatherings, and growth and creating more moments for others to connect in remarkable ways. The shape of which we call S P A C E. Installations like today remind us not to quit. Not yet.

Because there is still learning.

And the learning is good.

Special thanks to Cafe Onni and guests today at Hei Kesä.