Today we publish the zine, S P A C E | Singapore, ‘Dancing in the Cloud.’
Here’s a link.
Lots of conversations. Lots of back and forth. Lots of email, discussion, redirection.
All of it goes into the current week’s issue, S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist.’
Cover photo by BOSS.
‘Art takes time’
This week, we publish Issue #44.
It’s a cocreation between Alexis Jokela in Finland and Dipika Kohli, our creative director and editor of Autumn 2019’s S P A C E collection, ‘Trust the Process.’
DK had spent three months in the north of Finland in summer 2018. ‘The whole thing is getting kind of interesting now that the conversations are weaving over themselves and inviting new people to join them, too. That’s because, I think, it’s because, mostly, I love to keep things moving, keep things in progression, because it’s more fun than starting from zero. Art, like I wrote in A Place Called Home, art takes time.’ For DK, the best part is that things are starting to place themselves in such wonderful ways that people are meeting each other now. In person, even. This is beautiful. Connexion, at its best.
Order S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’…
This week, the lead story is ‘Ch_cklist,’ by Alexis Jokela, who also is the author of ‘A Summer Love Story’. That was published in S P A C E’ | Oulu. Following similar threads, ‘Ch_cklist’ touches on the things we all go through when we manage to learn how to master our feelings, let things move and shift, and find flow.
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’ is published exclusively here in S P A C E. Download it all this here.
Writing a story in the north of Finland
‘You go to peculiar places!’ said a writer in Oulu.
Despite my 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.
- New graphics.
- 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.
‘Research shows that when people live lives that are different from their true nature and capabilities, they are less likely to be happy than those whose goals and lives match.’ Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchical theory of human motivation in Motivation and Personality (1954).
Maslow’s self-actualizing characteristics
- Efficient perceptions of reality. Self-actualizers are able to judge situations correctly and honestly. They are very sensitive to the fake and dishonest, and are free to see reality ‘as it is’.
- Comfortable acceptance of self, others and nature. Self-actualizers accept their own human nature with all its flaws. The shortcomings of others and the contradictions of the human condition are accepted with humor and tolerance.
- Reliant on own experiences and judgement. Independent, not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views.
- Spontaneous and natural. True to oneself, rather than being how others want.
- Task centering. Most of Maslow’s subjects had a mission to fulfill in life or some task or problem ‘beyond’ themselves (instead of outside of themselves) to pursue.
- Autonomy. Self-actualizers are free from reliance on external authorities or other people. They tend to be resourceful and independent.
- Continued freshness of appreciation. The self-actualizer seems to constantly renew appreciation of life’s basic goods. A sunset or a flower will be experienced as intensely time after time as it was at first. There is an “innocence of vision”, like that of an artist or child.
- Profound interpersonal relationships. The interpersonal relationships of self-actualizers are marked by deep loving bonds.
- Comfort with solitude. Despite their satisfying relationships with others, self-actualizing people value solitude and are comfortable being alone.
- Non-hostile sense of humor. This refers to the ability to laugh at oneself.
- Peak experiences. All of Maslow’s subjects reported the frequent occurrence of peak experiences (temporary moments of self-actualization). These occasions were marked by feelings of ecstasy, harmony, and deep meaning. Self-actualizers reported feeling at one with the universe, stronger and calmer than ever before, filled with light, beauty, goodness, and so forth.
- Socially compassionate. Possessing humanity.
- Few friends. Few close intimate friends rather than many surface relationships.
‘BUT CAN I DO THAT?’ Further paraphrasing from Wikipedia, there may be a common feeling that the possibility of ‘self-actualization’ is reserved for those people who have been lucky in life and don’t have to struggle for their day-to-day survival in a dead-end job. Notwithstanding, Maslow (2011) suggested that it was very much about the attitude the individual brought to his/her life that might be the crucial catalyst for where one’s life and self-growth goes. There are many examples of when people have been in basically the same circumstances, but have turned out very differently, which might indicate that attitude can have an enormous bearing upon one’s fate…
…”the aesthetic needs” which include a need for “symmetry, order, and beauty”…
Feature Photo: Dipika Kohli, Atelier S P A C E | DK in Copenhagen and Aarhus, 2015
TODAY WE ARE SHARING the last of the 12-week set of zines in the S P A C E | Winter 2018-19 collection, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment.’ This was created with new and different others in our digital zine project, S P A C E. The last zine in this set is S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt.’
A new series, S P A C E | Spring 2019, ‘The Book of New things,’ is set to begin on 5 March. This is thanks to crowdfunding support. No ads. 100% member-supported. No endorsements, no BS. Learn more about S P A C E and how to subscribe, as well as see our schedule of upcoming issues to be co-created in S P A C E through June, at our crowdfunding page, here.
S P A C E | Malmö, ‘Vakt’
‘Trust the process’
Special thanks to Joji Minatogawa, a very creative person and an architect. I just added him to our contact page under ‘mentors,’ after clearing it first with him over the phone. I really am glad we can still call around the world and see what people are up to, and let them know that we are still here, still curious, still interested, and very much appreciative of the old conversations that went places. Because now, together, here we are. Some of us are still at it: asking the big questions. Questing one another, and the ideas that might come out for a very special, very quiet, very intimate sort of dance. Now, learning to quietly add the right bits and take out the wrong ones, until further getting that good stuff, the good stuff that’s left. Refinement. I am noticing, reading, listening, and still curious. Thanks for the conversations so far. It’s getting really good, now.
‘Design is making meaning. Art is making connexion:’ A. Spaice
Feature photo: ‘Internet I Hate You’ popup installation by Dipika Kohli, at Noir Kaffekultur in Malmoe, November 2015
IT IS EVENING. I’m supposed to be finished. Packing. The things to come are already starting, and I can feel the pull of the magnet that is calling. Towards the next. Whatever it is. I remember this feeling: five years ago, I was writing about getting new passport pictures, for Charlotte, NC editor Samir Shukla‘s Saathee Magazine. This would have been in North Carolina, and this was the kind of Indian diaspora magazine that, really, never usually crossed my mind to write for, but I had queried about writing a piece and it had been an easy thing to pitch: ‘I’m going traveling: taking to the road. No idea what’s gonna happen. A story?’ I had a hunch my father would read it, if I got it sent in there. I figured, too, later, with the column that started there and then and went on for a year, then two, that I had a way, in this mode, to keep in touch with my dad.
Art and the story
That’s how it starts, doesn’t it? You have a person you want to write towards. That time, it was my father. The story, ‘Passport Pictures’, ran as the first of a series of a column that we called ‘Just Being Honest.’ I never expected the kinds of twists and turns that this series would take, or that I would expand into other stories and other features, writing another column, over at Assung Ng‘s Seattle-based community paper, Northwest Asian Weekly (a newspaper that DK rebranded on their 25th anniversary). That was called ‘The Village Report.’ In 2016, everything that seemed interesting to me from these conversations got somehow turned into the eBook, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016).
Today I was thinking I should put it online, so people could read it. Download it. Not for $$$, but you know, for free. Because it’s not a bad story, I don’t think, and it sums up a lot of the feelings that someone who is on the road indefinitely for you-don’t–know-how-long, on their way from ‘not quite’ to ‘somewhere else’ but not sure what that looks like would have. I remember the feeling: people were like, ‘You’re going where? You don’t know? And you’re gonna do what? With no plan? OMG WTF you’re crazy.’ Despite the pull towards the status quo, in those days, I felt that there was something far more compelling in the ‘out there, wherever it is.’ I don’t know why. Was it because I had studied abroad in Kyoto, and in Ghana? Or taken my first solo trips to India and the United Kingdom in my early twenties all alone without predictable plans or a reason or something ‘to be done’ in those places? Or lived in Ireland for three years? If people could have gotten inside my head, maybe they would have seen that I was interested in ‘other people, other places, and other ways of thinking.’ I remember this. I remember that look: ‘but… why? And how will you make any money?’ Um. Right.
Next stop: wherever it is
Fast forward five years. I just got new passport pictures. My passport is back from the Embassy, a place I had avoided for the whole time I’ve been in Cambodia (four years). This time, I got my passport pictures done in Johor Bahru. I had no qualms whatsoever about the fact that I had been up until 3AM the night before on a very intriguing call across the world, or that my clothes were rumpled, or that I wasn’t gonna be wearing something that I picked out carefully because, hell, this was your passport. No. I just saw this place, went in. It was hot. It was air-conditioned inside. No big deal: got the pictures. Sized for the passport for the United States of America.
Today I got the first visa for the new passport. I’m gonna try to get longer visas this time so the book doesn’t fill up before it’s expired. It’s really amazing: the fresh feeling. I was reminded of ‘Passport Pictures’ and I compared my old self and my current one. Staring into the lens, this time, there is different person altogether. Not worried about ‘not knowing.’ And not caring one iota about who thinks what about it, besides. Because the going is the point of it; the transition happens there. I’m writing and talking with people I really admire, now, with the internet circle in S P A C E and the very close set of friends and collaborators who, along with me, have been on this wide quest. Towards quality: not just making something that works or turns around dollars, but something that opens the heart. I mean, it sounds crazy. But art. Is now. Actually. Needed.
The poets will help us get through this weird time of change and transition. Suffering: there are volumes written on coping, and dealing with the feeling of not knowing how to cope when things are abstract and far. There are egos. There is therapy. There are people who work on themselves, and get to a point where they are strong enough to share with close fiends how to grow. I remember thinking ‘grow’ was a funny word. I remember my cousin saying that Atlanta ‘really helped me grow.’ And I wrote four or five pages in my diary about that, about that whole idea. At that time, I had thought that growing was just about gathering more of something. More is more philosophy. But now, I think, growing is finding your way towards the things that really matter: to you. It’s subjective, of course. Looking inward, noticing deeply, attuning to what people around you feel and think and don’t-say, but which, if you’re awake enough, you can sort of read with a sixth sense… that’s important. That’s big work. I’m seriously writing this, now, on my blog?, I’m a little nervous about making this one public-facing. But yesterday and today I had one of those conversations that was like, ‘Whoa.’ Big thanks to my friends in Phnom Penh, who might not want to be called out publicly here, because… well, the kinds of conversations we have… are not the kinds that you want everyone to know about. But one day, when I’m ready, I will find a way to share back with them my gratitude and the layers and layers of learning that have come of our shared explorations. I hope we’re all growing and changing, all the time, as we all move through this thing: a kind of real time play, an improvisation that always moves, it’s an act but it’s the real thing, and like they say, there are no rehearsals.
Life. Is here. Is real. Is now. Where am I going?
I don’t know. I just know that tomorrow, my visa for Cambodia expires. That I have some vague outlines of things to do, elsewhere. That there will be people, I’m convinced now, along the way who will open me up more. I’m ready for that kind of trip. It’s a fissure: I’m no longer looking back (the ‘where I’m from’ question ceases to be relevant), nor up, into the infinite. I’m being here, right here. Now.
Where it all begins.
‘Hey. What’s this post coming from, DK?’
‘Well. I’m just being honest.’
Nice meeting you. Yesterday.
That was surprising and refreshing. I had no idea… that such a small, short question could launch us into, well, I like to call it, um, S P A C E. Designing it: that’s what I do, mostly, but it’s hard to talk about when you haven’t actually experienced it… the things we said, right? Life. The journey. Etc.
Yeah. Writing a blog post and writing a journal are similar, but I’ve turned this into something else… like, public-facing letters. This. This, too. It’s a letter. Like as if we could find a way back to those times we would send postcards (except, hey, mail gets lost… I’ve already heard that an envelope went awry because of floods in the southeastern United States and because of probably rules and things you can’t put into them towards Eastern Europe. Alas.)
But so? We have internet. So let’s use it. To connect. Say, maybe, this was a postcard, or written in pencil, maybe even cursive. (As you know, there are mostly keyboards around in the cafes here, these days).
The things we said yesterday
WELL, I SAID I’d write up what we talked about, didn’t I? Tell you what I heard, tell you as clearly as I can given the background noise (a large group of Ozzies, but they are family-oriented types, they seem to be having a very grownup conversation about whereabouts of the travels of the others; catching up). Mind, it would be easier to write if it was as quiet as when you were here and with far fewer distractions around. When it starts filling up, I feel like leaving a place. More about that to be reflected on, inwardly: when a place gets ‘discovered’ it’s time to move on. I had this short pice I wrote about Haapavesi, in Finland, and someone saw that and said, ‘You went to Haapavesi? Haapavesi!? You go to… peculiar places!’ (Oh. Do I? I guess… I’m looking for new things. And not the things that have already been written about, blogged about, instagrammed, blah blah.) Food coloring in my avocado in Bali. Food coloring so it would be greener. You know, for the instagram. (I returned it.)
Ahead. Well. Sure. Big topic. The things to come are what they are going to be, right? We talked about, in my words, ‘where the turn happened.’ Both of us, questing. Finding one another by sheer chance, in that magic moment that later in the day, I ran into K and he and I talked about that. Some more. And som either things about narratives, but it dived into something super fast-paced and multi-layered when that conversation shifted (place, moment) to another box of space, closer to BKK1, where M was waiting with an empty plate and a laptop and ready to talk. About. Everything. Which I love. And here we are again… S P A C E quests S P A C E, I’m starting to realize, and sometimes I bump into the likes of wonderful young women like you, O, and it reminds me that I have to keep writing towards you: and the others, who are probably, if you are anything like me, wondering what to make of ‘it all’ and how to plough forward into the rough seas of the darkness of not-knowing. A good question.
Forays and purple prose
THAT SHOULD be a book, really. A Book of New Things. Am working on it, with some friends, behind the scenes here, to be honest. (All kinds of meanders, wanders, forays into the field, but coming back, touching down, resonance-finding and discovering.) Recently, after asking for some advice about where to take DK in 2019, someone I don’t know well told me to get rid of, in a nice way, I mean, but to tone down all the flowery language. Ornamental verse, and all. Someone else had said that, too. ‘Just say it straight, DK. If you start getting attached to all the decorative writing, it’s nice, and all, but they won’t understand and they’ll just shake their heads and if they’re talking to you say, nicely, ‘I like this but I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.’ Noted. But you know? When I talk all flowery in real life, it’s a different kind of a moment. It’s actually… sometimes… welcomed, in a way, I feel? Maybe because it’s so rare that someone wants to talk in a way that sounds like it’s being written as she talks. I guess. That’s just. How I am, sometimes. Purple prose: it’s cool.
O, YOU WERE RIGHT. It is like a journal. Yet, I get to say ‘thanks’ here, to you. For saying it like it is: if we are the type of person who thinks a lot about a lot, often, and I mean, like, really often, and we have no idea if what we’re thinking about connects to anything else that anyone else is thinking about, and then we find each other, thinking about things often and a lot and deeply and even to a pint, sometimes, of losing it a little, (yes, it’s a thing), then yeah. We can relax a little. ‘Because someone else is taking care of that part, and caring about it,’ and stuff like that. Co-creating the Work of Doing It All Better… More some other time. Leave me a note if you see this?… (I had more here but I realize I wanted to spend more time writing properly; so tired from the Water Festival traffic, heat, etc. Hope you found your way around town and that it’s all okay with the little bro, too.)
In search of meaning
E X P L O R I N G _ T H E _ A R T
Times, shifts, curiosity about new people and new ways of thinking, and the general crisscross of emails and vague fragments of thoughts are what we write and share about in S P A C E. Works are creative nonfiction short stories, co-created with members of Design Kompany’s team both in Phnom Penh and in the places where we are going to discover new and different voices ‘out there,’ in the field..
Where are the new and unusual perspectives, hiterto underreported or cast aside as ‘ethnic?’ Let’s go find them. Let’s write them, share them, co-create them. In S P A C E Meet us there? Introductory offer: subscribe for just $4/week.
S P A C E posts every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. When. you subscribe, you’ll get it every week by email, plus these exclusive PDF zines, too. Themes change but the idea is that we get closer to the study of what it means to look, listen, discover, hear what we are able to piece together when we make a space for quieting, and noticing, both one another, and ourselves.
Into the Quiet
S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘ The Book of Slow Moment’
S P A C E | Oulu, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’
Finding the stillness.
18 December, 2018
S P A C E | Phnom Penh, ‘Angle of Incidence’
Living in Cambodia: then and now.
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’
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.
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’.
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.
Calls for submission will be made through S P A C E. Subscribe to get the details.
LATER ON TODAY. The first conversation in S P A C E that’s actually in the cloud. A conference call. Connecting members. Across distance, and from spots of time that are disparate, for me. We met in 2011(?), (when was it, S.?) at a bar called James Joyce, for example. Or we met at a place that had a lot of people on laptops and not-talking so we started talking-talking because why not make that happen instead of becoming a zombie. ‘Play a game of cards with us?’ ‘Okay, yes.’ Thanks, MB, for being part of this long journey.
S P A C E | The Book of New Things. It’s not exactly a planning meeting, but you might call it that if you were a planny-planny type, which, believe me, is not my usual nature, but it is, kind of, also. Sometimes you get that side of me that’s like, ‘Right. We have the design intent. That’s 90% of the work, ladies and gentlemen. Now, let’s get crackin’ on this thing before we lose interest, scope creep sets in, someone has a personal crisis and drops out, or expectations get fuzzy and no one knows what the hell the thing is about anymore. Momentum, you could say.’
Which reminds me of this…
A building of momentum: the product of velocity and a critical mass
Why make this kind of S P A C E? Well, for one, it’s terribly difficult to host the online workshops now. It’s just too much. Email is work. People hate it. People are busy. No one has time. I’ve heard all the excuses, and heard them again. A year goes by. ‘Not this time, DK!’ Another year. ‘I’m sorry ! I’m just really busy right now with my own things.’ Then, fair enough. Let me, also, become busy with my own things. Let me deepen the connections that are already blooming. Then, let me focus on tending these small and fragile things–relationships–while introducing the ideal into the new equation… the ideal being quality and authentic and genuine connexion. Human connexion, built over time. This is not an ordinary group of people. And this is not an open invitation. You have to have known me for 2+ years now, for this set. It’s crazy, saying that. (With one extraordinary exception: Stacia Yearwood, of PaperPassages and IHopeThisMessageFindsYouWell. Of course. Because she is an immaculate poet. Need beautiful words to express an emotion? Hire this extraordinary talent.) Maybe we’ll see S tonight. S gave me a great poem. And inspired the Epicurus-moment that we’ll be building in 2019, in S P A C E, which will take to the road. (BH, are you reading? BH, you should most certainly be part of this cookie. Seriously.)
It’s like having the kind of party that I most enjoy: gathering the people whose work I admire, whose conversations have inspired me, and whose art is good, for a brief intersection of paths and closing off of other channels so as to focus, notice, and be right here now. So far, three of us have confirmed being there. That means showing up at weird hours so that an international call can work; from Australia to the western edge of N. America, invitees to this poll were going to either say ‘yes’ to the showing up to the call, not knowing what at all might happen, or say ‘no, thanks.’ But since we’re talking about people in S P A C E, and not just regular people I happened to run into yesterday or something, not that that’s bad, I quite like that, too, and ZM and I’d met the day before one of our salons, in London, that was pretty cool, and TE, too, who said, ‘What are you doing tomorrow? I’ll guest list you for my show’ which was by far one of the top 5 I’ve been to (following Sun Ra Arkestra back in Durham NC when they came through, OMG, and a couple others I can’t say out loud here because, they’re personal, and I care about them, and I don’t like oversharing) but I’m getting sidetracked–
–Back on track, the thing is this. It’s different. When you know someone. Trust is there. I’m inviting people only whom I’ve been in close conversations with throughout the last six months or more, mostly in the online spaces of S P A C E forums. ‘Slow Moment,’ for example–and expanding that out into a call in thirty minutes is the idea here. So esoteric. So abstract. So WTF. But so? I’m doing this because these are the people who are like, ‘Okay. What time?’
90% of it is showing up. Since we’ve built relationships and had quality connexion and trust and many, many dates together thinking, writing, conversing, talking, learning, sharing, showing up for each other, and discovering more about all that intrigues us, outside of the normal bounds of ‘this is what we do for work, this is what we do outside of work, this is what I studied’ blah blah who cares what do you think about multiple universes, there, good chap, or have you ever seen the northern lights? That Phish song–always comes to mind–when I think about the northern lights. But the new things, the Book of New Things, is deep influenced by the recent trip up to the northern part of Finland, up, past the Arctic Circle, where, if you hold your breath and hope, you might get a glimpse of them. And yeah, if your eyes are closed, too…
Comments are open. But just for a bit.
Midsummer in Finland is a magical time, and the author Alexis Jokela‘s ‘Kesärakkausjuttu‘, or ‘A Summer Love Story,’ celebrates this refreshing and remarkable time.
JOIN DK online from 6PM-6:30PM to be part of the reading, live, from the newest issue of S P A C E. This one, from Finland. We’ll be sharing the link to where you can join the conversation and listen and connect to others also interested in hearing the author, Alexis Jokela, reading from the new short piece. This will be conducted on the videoconference space, Zoom. Meantime, we’ll also gather in real life in Phnom Penh at a small location to be shared only with those who pre-order the bundle before 15 Oct. A very intimate gathering to partake of conversation about a very intimate subject. Love, relationships, sex, the story. We’re going to bring it all up, in this special zine launch, S P A C E | Kärsämäki, ‘Kesärakkausjuttu’.
What people are saying about S P A C E zines…
- ‘This is so my life!’ —J
- ‘So true.’ —K
- ‘Now I understand things better. Thank you for writing this.’ —S
- ‘Oh! I can so relate to this.’ —J
- ‘It’s about here. Here! I have to know more.’ —G
- ‘Beautiful.’ —O
A Summer Love Story
This set of stories were made at Atelier S P A C E || Kärsämäki through programmes of Atelier S P A C E from June-August, 2018, it tells the honest and raw, real stories collected from people who shared openly, after some time, about their feelings about relationships, love, romance, and disconnection. It was a privilege to be able to hear these, and DK’s team worked to put the conversations together into a narrative that might be an easy read, something of depth and substance, yet short. For those who might be interested in discovering what it’s like to be in Finland and wonder about love. Stories of summer, stories of endings, stories of love, stories of beginnings. All told directly in an honest sharing through Alexis’ unique perspective on a city north of his own, in Finland, exploring and curious.
The lead chapter is called ‘Katsotaanpas sitten,’ or, ‘Let’s see, then.’
Here’s how it starts:
‘THIS WAS HOW IT HAPPENED.. This was the way my summer love affair with the one I cannot name came into shape, at first only as a theory, and then, with the flesh, in the way things go when we are able to let them, without overthinking the future, and disregarding the past.’ — Alexis Jokela, in Kesärakkausjuttu‘
ALKU ON VAIKEIN osa kirjoittaa. Aloittaminen, alku. Tunne, ettei tiedä, mistä asiat alkavat. Jos vain, jos vain. Kyllä kyllä. Kesä. Näen nyt. Yritän saada tunteita järjestäytyneeksi. Ei ole helppoa. Minulla ei ole aavistustakaan, mitä teen. (Mutta … ei ole näin, miten se alkaa, olen tuntenut hänet alle kymmenen päivää, onko se näin, se on, miten tällainen asia alkaa.) Onko kesä rakkaustarina. Minä en tiedä. Katsotaan.’ — Alexis Jokela, in Kesärakkausjuttu
‘Human contacts are dangerous [because] they matter so much, and no one knows how much they matter. Even the most trivial meeting makes a difference, slight or lasting, to one or both.
‘Intimate contacts make heaven and hell, they can heal and tear, kill and raise from the dead. These contacts are the fields in which we succeed or fail. I believe they matter far more than anything else in life.
‘What we are is written on the people whom we have met and known, touched, loved, hated and passed by. It is the lives of others that testify for or against us, not our own.’
–George Vickers, systems thinker, quoted in the academic text Systems Thinkers (Sprinter: Rampage, Shipp, London, 2009)
(HT EJ. Thanks for the book!)
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 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.
‘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.’
Art of not knowing
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?
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