I just wanted to make a point.
an online exhibition
in S P A C E
Monday 9 August 2021
to join the zoom conversation
become a member of S P A C E
I just wanted to make a point.
an online exhibition
in S P A C E
Monday 9 August 2021
to join the zoom conversation
become a member of S P A C E
‘The most vibrant and economically wealthy city in Việt Nam has offered financial aid* to help people whose incomes have been slashed due to the city’s 14-day lockdown.
‘When HCM City coughs, the whole country feels the cold. Its daily number of positive cases this week has been consistently above 1,000 and topped 2,000 on Wednesday.
‘The Ministry of Health continues to send medical teams with doctors and other health personnel to help HCM City fight the pandemic. More than 7,000 medical students have been added to the health force to start work in the city’s quarantine camps and hospitals.’
“When a horse is sick, the whole stable feels the pain, goes a popular saying,” writes Nguyễn Mỹ Hà.
*Friends tell us how hard it is to do the paperwork to actually get to any package that might come out, and some people are waiting and waiting for previous similar things to come to fruit, is the word on the street, to our knowledge. Meantime the need for cash is real. So here’s what’s up…. Social sustainability-shaped things, up next, in S P A C E. This is where DK has been taking shelter since the outbreak of the virus, and thanks to help from friends and neighbors, gotten by with… being in a foreign land, unplannedly. Now, this. Support DK’s own effort to create small, paid writing and design commissions. These would be for people whom we have gotten to know and whose work we value and even cherish, at Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh City. See ‘Book of Feelings’ at our recently updated crowdfunding page. Here is a link.
Help me make it *happen*.
In closed threads, behind the scenes, here at DK, I’ve been reporting on the difficulties of trying to do a ‘zine’ here in Vietnam, or anywhere really. Zines are for going against the normal way of everything: they’re not overly designed, or overly polished, and the ideas within at least for me, in my way of making them, are about standing for a thing that you care about. That means having something you really love.
This is the problem: most people don’t know what they really love.
They go around and around and they try to grab at things.
But what about the things they love?
I know this is not a blog about personal development; I’ve longago abandoned that path of ‘motivational speaker’ even though I accidentally did a TEDx talk about how ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left’, back in 2012.
Pretty funny, hindsight, hey.
Here is the video.
Now, if you are reading this, and you have heard me [deleted]… ‘look at me’ generation of selfie-takers and how irritating that is to me, well….. yeah. I did this.
This was 2012, so before the internet got all crazy and the Society of the Spectacle hijacked real life the way it has today. I guess, yeah. It was cool to do it. Show up, as me. Say what I wanted to share.
It helped me reach a few people, connect deeply. That, to me, was always the goal of everything I made. Writing articles for my two newspaper jobs, for example. Or designing things for wonderful clients over the years I was in Seattle, for another example.
I’m coming back to the internet, now.
I’m doing more things online.
If you got the invites from me today, from the platforms, well.
More is on the way.
Hello Latvia. Hello Finland. Hello Ireland, and my friends who hit ‘connect’ in those places. I appreciate that, so much. Also: Cambodia, Australia, Denmark…. Invites have gone around the world. To Germany. To so many people whose paths have crossed with my own.
It’s amazing doing this kind of very preferential networking, today. I used to be way different, when I was younger. Anybody was fine, to ‘connect’ with. Not anymore. I’m highly discerning. And I think it’s that thing that helps me know which side of the line I want to categorize an old contact as that makes me who I am. I know what I love.
I love improvising and conversing with people who shine.
They, together, have been my ‘neighborhood,’ a world neighborhood, from whose carefully attended lectureships have taught me a universe of ways of building bridges.
I’m ready to apply now what I have learned from ambling the world, 27 countries, countless hundreds of miles of walking around. I’m not religious, but doesn’t it seem like one hell of a quest? Finding myself, or whatever, isn’t what it was about. It was about. finding… us.
The us that is between us.
‘The It Between I and Thou’
My old friend MA in Seattle had taught me about M. Buber’s idea of this thing, ‘the it between I and thou.’
What’s between you and me is hugely important; it’s a thing. It’s not a thing in capitalist places but here in Vietnam I feel it more deeply each day, the importance of a unity of ‘us.’ A chúng ta kind of vibe, you know? Yes I have to learn Vietnamese. I have to. What the hell else can I do to be understood, and communicate?
Deeply, not superficially.
The following are a few of the S P A C E issues we made at Atelier S P A C E // HCM (HT those many people who generously donated USD$800 to that effort! I’ve updated our crowdfunding page to reflect new goals, for Outer S P A C E).
I want to make an issue of S P A C E available to anyone who wants to read it. It’s just too good not to share. It’s called ‘Humanity’. The author is my good friend Michael Bridgett, Jr. and the photographer is another dear friend, Nils don Sihvola. Both are part of my international community and help me think, write, and most importantly… feel.
Feel my feelings.
Want the issue? Email me.Today I feel free. I’m proud to be back on the internet again. And reconnect with my old colleagues, friends, clients, and associates in a new United States of America. Gosh, you know. There’s so much work to do.
Let’s get started.
One designful moment, at. A. Time.
HT JE, CS. So cool to message today! Surprised? Me, too.
Photo of Dipika Kohli by OMNI Studiophotos, Durham NC 2012
It’s a conversation. It’s also a zine launch party. Meet us at a *secret location* in District 3. A daytime event.
Here’s a link.
update: 29 December 2020
Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’
A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?
Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.
A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?
Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.
The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.
We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.
A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.
Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.
So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.
A. Spaice: And… Covid?
Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.
Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.
Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.
We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.
With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.
It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.
FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.
Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!
A. Spaice: Does it cost ?
Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.
All you need to do is visit www.fotp.online to apply!
A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!
A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!
We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.
DK had participated in this festival in 2020, which was a cool moment for us as it was our debut with S P A C E in real life. We’ve since also been at the San Francisco Zine Festival, which took place in September of this year, as it was virtual. Was cool. HT MB.
Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.
So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.
I just submitted my application–sent!
Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.
So, our agenda for December is this..
I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]
Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:
And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..
Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week…
Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!!
As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.
This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!
It’s been three weeks since I got to Hồ Chí Minh City. I think. I’ve lost track of the days. There is good news, and better news. I’m happy. Things are going more curiously than they were, up in the Highlands, but maybe that’s because I’m changing. Not the world, but me. Inside-Outside Self was a prompt for ‘Papers’ this past few months, and writing about that, with others in my communities, both in real life and online, has been nothing short of transformational.
They say that happens, when you make time for reflection. I made time for that all my life, but now, it’s like, super turbocharged, or something, because… six months in a block in a foreign land where no one knows me longer than 1 year, et cetera. That’s different from other stuff. I’m reminded of Seven Years in Tibet, a book I really liked, and also, Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance because the author of the latter had spent, what was it, ten years in India?… wandering around… the wondering is the the part I’m doing now, whilst not-wandering, on account of… hi, the pandemic? Yeah. Whilst staying still, I had this idea…
Decided to bring ‘N’ into shape here where I am. Decided, also, to make it a four-person four-part series. Why? Social distancing, for one, but also, the place I have in mind, which, naturally, has an ‘N’ in it, is going to be somewhere that would get overwhelmed quickly with any more than 4 guests at a time where we would meet. That place reminds me of my favorite cafe in the world, Joe Bar, in Seattle. I miss it. I miss the feeling of there. Of going over there just whenever, often a Sunday evening around seven, playing cards with whomever I’ve met through the week and invited to join me, if not this Sunday, then next, why not. I get tired of these things where people are flaky and can’t make a decision about making time for talking in real life. I got tired of trying to make appointments with people largely because I found most people dull (being honest) and I much prefer conversations amongst mixed groups now. So, no more 1:1, for me, not really. Instead: N. Cause, yeah. Just go and host a party, gosh, make the magic moment *happen*. And only amongst those who say ‘yes’ to the invitations to show up for, we-don’t-even-know-what-it-is-yet. That kind of person is my kind of person-I-want-to-talk-more-with. I found a lot of them, too, through ‘N’: London, Bangkok, Phnom Penh was where I started it… and Hanoi, too.
A topic, this time, for this edition of ‘N’, is ‘Nhà.’
Which has emerged, naturally, from conversations of late.
HOW IT WORKS. Slowly, I’ll find the right guestlist for this. It takes time. I’ll just invite the people who seem the most likely to be a fit, as I discover them. Today, V. Wow. That was a great (and short, densely packed) conversation. *Thank you!* Also. Yesterday, T., who may or may not read this (T: if you are reading, it’s really just a small conversation party amongst people who I choose to invite, not so much of an elaborate thing, now that we are doing the social-distancing four-person four-part series version of ‘N’). Yeah…. It’s a conversation, anyway. And an invitation. And U? Did you get my email? Checkit.
This is the invitation.
For the first one of the four-part series, let’s talk about ‘Nhà.’ (Cool? Hard, but let’s do it.)
‘N’ Hồ Chí Minh City: ‘Nhà’
By invitation only
(Date Place Time to be confirmed amongst registering guests)
Who wants to know more? Get in touch. The form is here.
Feature photo: KGM // ‘N’ Phnom Penh, 2014
Last week I invited a very small subset* of my online community to be part of a September invite-only circle for writing together. In a project called ‘Papers. A few people had asked me, from that, why, exactly, I am doing this. Why, that is to say, I am designing spaces through things like ‘Papers.’
Here’s what I just sent to 9 people on my shortlist for the September invite-only version of Papers, which begins tomorrow. I’m jazzed.
Great question. Thanks for asking !
Short answer is: this is an opportunity for people to converse, and to do this across different kinds of boundaries (culture, nation, etc). Together. I’ve been lucky enough to get to go to 27 countries here and there, so I know the value of simply being in a different kind of ‘soup’, so to speak. Everything you think you know already then can change; when you get to sample new flavors.
The people included in this email are those I met on the road, mostly. So why not circle people into online versions of what I know how to do in real life, namely, gather us and create safe spaces for conversation. Deeply, not superficially.
To give you some context, I’ve updated our project page for S P A C E. It’s a crowdfunding page, and this is the link..
Perhaps that helps you see where these invitations fit in the bigger picture. Comments and participation always welcome.
Best for now,
*Who gets invited? I use a very complex algorithm. It’s called ‘Intuition.’
I sent you email today; a joint email. I like a good conversation circle, as you both well know. It occurs to me: do you know each other? Probably. The town where we met each other is indeed a small one. Journeying very many miles and days since then, those moments when we met, I mean, and also, those when we connected, loosely, in the cloud, through the e-circle style I mentioned, well, those things happened, didn’t they, and here we are. I’ve been good here.
A lot of updates to share, and I’m going to look forward to it.
On the off chance you happen to get my mail (things go to filters a lot now, owing to spam bots and other ‘nefarious’ mechanisms, I thought it was funny someone put it that way… ‘nefarious’…)… So yeah.
If you get it, and if you read it in time, and if you reply, and if you see my note here, somehow, all those ‘ifs’, if they line up… then let’s do it. Start another party, in the cloud. Just us three.
I’m certain we have many, many things to discover and co-discover, from here. Check your inbox, like.
My Irish accent, um, is on these days, thanks to the writing of End of the Rainbow (Sept. 15 / Kismuth Books). Wow, long story, but yeah. West Cork, that is to say. Grand stuff, so. Mostly I just really wanna know how you’re doing but I don’t want to send more 1:N notes. Too much work, too little reward, and far less personalized. What’s the point of that? I don’t know. See you in the up, maybe, L & C?
I’ll be waiting for you, here.
PS Miss you.
It’s a small, real-life meet up for a max of 4. It’s also a mini-workshop. It’s on FB.
Here’s a link.
Exact location to be shared by email, since you already know if you got the link to this page that I do not have a handphone.
Email me, so.
Today in real life.
I don’t know. It’s a long shot. But sometimes, remarkably, I actually do meet people through Eventbrite invites on the internet. One out of a hundred people I cross paths with are ‘my’ people. I think… I think I’m back ‘on’ with making invitations to this kind of maybe-you-can-just-show-up-and-meet-me jazz. Like ‘N‘. But… simpler. Way.
HT T. Thanks for that conversation, yesterday. Maybe see you at this?
You know the spot I’ll be at. The other details…
This week’s issue is ready to share.
It’s called S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Start with Something Simple’.
Trang Le’s story, ‘A Discovery of… Myself,’ is the lead story. It is in Vietnamese. One of the most sharply observing young people DK has met in a long time, it is a chronicling of the author’s experience slowly passing time in Đà Lạt, away from home. Two of her photographs showcasing the natural beauty in and around Đà Lạt are included, too. You’ll also find some quirky terrariums created by Dinh Ngô, who shared these images with DK for this issue after we happened to find them in real lfe. He, too, like Le, had found new ways to discover—in this case, a new creative pursuit—over the period of lockdown. Experimenting with making… terrariums led to a new outcrop of beginnings, it seems. The cover photograph and inside images give you an idea of the vibe.
Special thanks to Bích Ngọc, who translated into Vietnamese Dipika Kohli’s short dialogue, ‘Phoneless,’ about a true encounter in real life in Ho Chi Minh City with someone who, like Kohli, professed he, too, does not have a phone.
S P C | Sài Gòn • ‘Start with Something Simple’ is ready to order.
Here’s a link.
Last few weeks, been offline.
Sometimes it’s nice to just narrow things down, and focus.
A few things. A few people.
Just 4, actually, for this next internet-based virtual installation. Four! Much simpler.
This is the new thing. The Interactive Papers Project. It is set to start 1 May.
As always with me, choosing where to focus, next, and what to make, has taken a bit of time and reflection. Because this time, I added, ‘for whom.’ The answer quite surprised me. Went offline for delving deeper, and came up with some new metrics for S P C, its goals, and the people I feel I most gel with when it comes to co-creating. Like ES said, once, ‘It’s not for everyone.’
Thanks to all who have submitted applications. If you’ve been selected to register, you’ll have been notified by now. To those who’ve already confirmed by registering, check your inbox—just sent you an email.
I thought I was done with ‘N’ for a while. I thought I had these rules around it: the old page for it and my best attempt to share the story so far, is here. (I had some other side sites going to “document the journey,” or whatever, but that became tiring. People wanted me to do that kind of thing, because they said it would be good, so sure, I was new at experience design project S P A C E jam stuff, back then, so I tried to do it their way.) Kind of went like this:
Them: ‘You need to explain it, DK. Don’t you have pictures? So they can see what it’s going to be like? You have to sell it to them.’
Me: ‘WTF, it’s art. You don’t explain art. You experience it. Then you decide for yourself what it means.’
‘That’s going to be a hard thing to pull off.’
‘So? I want to do it like this or not at all! I’m looking for the people who are looking for… me.’
‘Why am I even.. asking you? Gosh. You’re just not. Getting this, are you. F, f, f.’
‘Maybe I’m not that clever enough…’
‘You want to be spoon-fed or something?’
‘Yes! Tell it to me like–‘
UNDOCUMENTED. So mostly, there are no pictures. I think it gets in the way of the intimacy of the space. I do have one 16-persons-in-a-pic ‘N’ selfie. I did take a few shots in Phnom Penh and London, because, wow, it was just… beautiful to have the whole 16-way blind date idea in real life and so yeah, documented those but they’re like not that great of pictures because, iPad?, and also, dark. So? I have them. I have the memories, though, and I cherish those far, far more. I don’t have to share them anywhere. So yeah. I didn’t keep up with the whole side site journal documenting thing. Things like that to ‘maintain buzz’ and ‘include people who couldn’t be there’ got to the point where the mood to do that just… ended. So I casually was okay with it if I forgot the passwords or maintaining it got too hard and I just… let it go. These things happen, too. I said, after ‘N’ Penang: NOSTALGIA, that I was done for a while. That I would take a break.
But, then… I fell in love with a venue. Yeah, I did.
It just has that vibe.
It’s perfect, for ‘N’.
Yup, I found a crazy cool venue, with an ‘N’ in its name, in a city that has an ‘N’ in it, and *these are among the criteria* that I look for when I choose to throw an ‘N’ party. An ‘N’ party is a big blind date where 16 people show up to meet each other, in real life, to talk about a topic that starts with… guess what letter!
So yeah. I’m here, and I’m starting to go through the old conversations in old emails and seeing who might like to be part of ‘N’ in the secret city where I am going to be when it might happen. Yes! I am going to decide later! I am going to leave it open, for now. I am going to confirm, when I feel like it, when it’s closer to then, if it is happening or not. (To everyone, that is, who isn’t already ‘in’ on the conversations, where we confirm stuff and send agendas and meetpoints and homework. Not everyone needs to know. So I’ll be vague and casual and noncommittal with anyone who is not, of course, actually saying ‘yes’ to my direct invitation. If you just got email from me, this is the jam.
The people who come are the right people. The things that happen are the only things that could have. It starts when it starts (but we’ll probably say 7PM), and it’s over when it’s over (this can last years), and the last thing is, if you’re not having a good time or learning something, you can leave. That’s ‘the law of two feet.’ I didn’t make these up; these are the basic frame making rules of what’s called Open Space Technology, HT MC, who left the book Open Space Technologies on purpose for the random passerby to find it, in her cafe in Battambang, where said passerby (yours truly, DK) chanced to go (solo trip! Battambang 2014!!) and see it, read it, and begin to host everything in Open Space style, from that point on.
So… Who got my email? Email me back and I’ll send the next e-note in that sequence. I wrote it in 2014, but it still fits the mood of this cookie, and I’m ready to do an ‘N’ jam, again, with 16 people who are going to like what they see when they read this invitation and follow through the links.
Are you there, curious, reading, listening, and wondering? People have come from out of the city and out of the country to join ‘N’, so please get in touch if you are resonating with this. We’re looking for you, if yes. If you got the invite and said ‘no,’ that’s cool, really, it is, but, um, no way ever am I going to ‘keep you updated on future things!!’
‘N’ is a filter, for me. What kind of people say ‘yes’ to this wacky, crazy invitation to show up in real life for something that you don’t even know what it is yet?
My kind of people.
S P A C E kind of people.
Artful, curious, and ready-for-the-things people.
With that set, there’s no way that you can go wrong, as a host. Because the people who come, like Open Space says, are the right people. Guess what? We don’t care how popular or good-looking or smart or rich you are. We just want you to want to be part of it. That’s it. That’s the whole thing, the center of it. ‘N’ quests you.
Agile. Agile design, agile publishing, and agile ‘N’.
This is how we roll.
Comments are open for a bit, in case someone wants to say something about all this ? Email also open. The new new address, not the old new address. Tx.