There is the virus. There is more of it than before. There are concerns and there are provisions, there are floutings, there are commiserations, and, like here where I am in Vietnam at the moment, there are the warm middays. These are the things I am hearing, in calls with friends and colleagues in Cambodia, in days of late. Was trying to find my way back to Phnom Penh for most of 2020. Then, it started to sink in that that just wasn’t gonna happen. So [deleted]… and now, here I am. Continue reading “Finishing touches, ebbs & flows”
I was listening to this song on a yellow radio that only had a few channels and was super staticky, in a studio in a school in Brooklyn where I was ‘living in New York City once.’ That was 1999.
I was doing some screentprinting. Weirdly, the things that I was making then, on that day, were very similar to what I’m doing today. In S P A C E. Words and images. Poetry. No screenprinting, now, but still. It’s fun to hit ‘print’ sometimes and collage a few zines.
This song came up in a conversation that is going to take shape in ‘Rapprochement.’ Which has everything to do with the things that have to do with angling yourself against your… past…
The story, ‘Rapprochement’ will be shared soon. It’s written by S P A C E contributing writer Michael Tharamangalam.
The race is long. In the end it’s only with yourself…
Things are going on. Behind the scenes. In protected pages.
Today we start the new Cojournal circles, in our 4-person-and-fewer combinations that make things cozy and nice. I don’t like large groups of people. As host, I prefer this. Small. Correspondingly, we tend to get more familiar with one another as we go, with time, in these designed-to-be-simple-and-easygoing programs.
Workshop-style, but not with that kind of hoity toity. You know? Just… talking.
Creating space to talk.
As F. said once, ‘World. Needs. More of this.’ [F, thanks for encouraging me.]
One of the awesome things about not having a boss or employees means I get to do whatever the hell I want with DK. So I’m gonna do this. Streamline a little.
I decided to make this year’s Cojournal a short-run thing, just 12 weeks. By summer we can all move on too other projects without [deleted] Which isn’t a problem I’m here to solve, for anyone. I’m here to show up for the handful (about 1%) of people who are already tuned in to this channel. S P A C E quests S P A C E.
90% of it is showing up
Like I said, with N, on a wonderful sunset-watching afternoon this past week. It’s Lunar New Year here in Vietnam, so we have time to finally talk together in person and see each other after a busy set of things. Things that, sometimes, people find out, are actually not things that actually matter ot them, but that’s a different story. Many thanks, N., if you’re reading, for having been reading all this time. Was great. To hear. Your response to all of the last two years’ worth of… stuff. What I said, please don’t forget it. I’ve been thinking about that message, the upshot being, something along hte lines of… Don’t let them use you. Make sure they pay you enough. Know your value. And then: ask for what you want.
Journaling. All’s set. We started today and I’m jazzed about that, and one group is talking in LinkedIn ‘group chat’, another is in Dropbox Papers, and still yet another is in… well, to be determined, as we are working on what works out for all. It might be in real life, since some of us are in the same city. I like it when we get to do these real life ‘Third Space’ things together and I love it when it gets… deep.
Realizing that there are more people out there who want to write with me, and those of us who write together in S P A C E. There are steps to get published in S P A C E, because the process is more important to me, as a publisher, than the ‘output.’ It’s not like we’re rolling in it because of e-mag sales, whoever thinks that, is just… out of touch with realities of indie publishing.
I don’t know. It’s just for fun.
What’s the point if it isn’t.
Stay safe wherever you are when this note lands. I’m well and dazzlingly content, today, from my nest in Ho Chi Minh.
See what I did there?
HT friends of Papers. Thanks for helping me get to this place of seeing it, seeing it, not just living in a fog.
Good evening from Ho Chi Minh City, ladies and gentlemen. Let me share with you the mix tape, ‘See you Saturday, maybe,’ featuring a few musicians I’ve gotten to listen to often and sometimes even chat with in real life (remember when that was a thing?) about art, composition, intrigue, and sharing.
Every time I hear the Cambodian mix I feel a little homesick for one of my more recent ‘homes’ (I have a lot), namely Phnom Penh, hence the song I’m including from Justatee about the feeling of wanting to go home. it’s a good mood, suddenly, listening and feeling. Of course I have to end it all with Punjabi tunes.
Since I’m big into relational aesthetics, I have to acknowledge all the people I was thinking about while making this. HT PS, over in Chandigarh, or?, somewhere thereabouts. Mixtape, ‘See you Saturday, maybe!’, dedicated to my friends NDS, aka DNLD on Soundcloud. And VT. Cool. Thanks, too, for MM for inspiring me lately. And of course MD and AM for always listening when I need to talk. And CS. Gosh. I have a lot of people I can count on in these difficult times. Lucky me. Special thanks of course to Boss. And SJ, who told me to blog more and write what I think, which I appreciate. Though he probably isn’t reading this, I want to say, ‘I hope you are safe, there.’
For those who have applied, thank you ! Will be sending the informational Welcome and Orientation Packet to you, this week. Emails are set to arrive on Mondays. If you don’t see ‘Papers | Welcome’, with the syllabus for December, kindly just let us know. Exciting ! More to follow, from there.
Update: Here is the recording. Check out what Michael Bridgett, Jr., our teammate in Phnom Penh, shared with the world about working with us from the very start to make S P A C E… 😉 Here’s the segment of the recording where you can hear him talk. It comes on right after Christina Hu (BooHu Press)‘s presentation… Really enjoyed learning about Christina’s zines and her passion for storytelling is so great to see. I loved ‘I can’t watch television…’ I can so relate to that, haha. All the presentations were awesome ! Thanks SF Zine Fest for including us ! –A. Spaice & the team at DK…
DK’s Phnom Penh-based collaborator, Michael Bridgett, Jr, is representing us at the SF Zine Fest ‘Show & Tell.’ It will be live-streaming. This link has more about who we’ll be talking with, on that day, as well as all the 150 exhibitors who are part of the cyberfestival.
Michael “Mike Dynamo” Bridgett is a vocalist/emcee and charismatic currently performing with live hip hop band, Hypnotic Fist Technique and 90’s cover project 99 Boyz in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Mike also writes about media and cultural analysis for fun as well as playing and connecting over video games.
He’s been part of S P A C E ever since it started in 2017, offering incredibly insightful viewpoints and a wide-range of ideas through the years as we’ve been building the magazine concept. Together, with other close collaborators near and far.
‘I believe in the power of spontaneity and improvisation–the creation of something powerful in the moment. And possibly never to be seen again. It allows me to be fully present. When I perform, I draw on the energy of the crowd and the people around me, amplify it, and give that energy right back, ten-fold. It’s my superpower.
‘In my writing, I strive for honesty, speaking about things that many don’t like to talk about. I want to make people think about their assumptions, because assumptions are a direct result of not being present and not engaging with what is in front of you. Of course, sometimes I just want to riff on video games, comics, and movies I love and analyze.’
Below is a selection of some of his writings for S P A C E…
‘Continuous Partial Attention’
from our S P C | Saigon series, which also includes ‘Start with Something Simple’
Words Michael Bridgett, Jr.
Editing A. Spaice
June 27, 2018 — June 30, 2020
For the writer, it’s been said that the best thing to do upon waking up is grab the pen—or at least the keyboard—and empty your earliest thoughts, or journal away the sins of yesterday. It’s a great method for any artist that is meant to help get to the right artistic mindset for the rest of the day. But these days, first thing I’ve been reaching for is the cell phone.
(I have this grand compunction to know what time it is, even though I have gone out of my way to do the kind of work that is not time sensitive: I don’t have a place to report to by a certain time, nor do I have any specific deadlines I’m trying to reach.) ‘Knowing the time’ on the clock does little, yet I keep reaching for the phone as soon as I’m awake. Instead of being on ‘world time’—the intervals of reality where events happen when they happen, and people awaken, and choose to move with their needs and hearts—I find myself on ‘corporate time:’ which is time that was invented to create a schedule to move items by rail that would allow people 200 years ago to coordinate, and make a lot of money.
I like money. I just happen to also like whatever sanity I can carve out of a topsy-turvy world. I also like technology, but as much as I appreciate it and all it does for me, sometimes I have to admit that the old ways are best. That being said, as much as I respect the old ways, I also recognize that concepts like racism, xenophobia, crime, fascism, or exploitation weren’t invented by millenials a few years ago. It can be difficult to take the healthy parts of the new and leave the toxic ones behind. More to say, in a bit.
When the clock starts the day, my mind first counts the hours of sleep. Then the judge-ment of that time-and of the events of the previous night-creep in. Then I start to know when I may need to be somewhere, and what things need to be done before I get there. If there are lots of places and things, I judge again and question who truly runs my life. If there are few or no places and things, I judge again and question how lazy I am.
Tick-tock, tick-tock. There it comes: the struggle, the anxiety, and the conflict.
Maybe we’re born with it. Maybe the system just runs on conflict. Maybe a group of shadowy elites truly got together in an opulent board room and decided that the world was just too boring on its own. Maybe some human beings are just hungry for something other than stalk or flesh, and drama is both hearty and delicious when you prepare it correctly.
We ‘work’ when we punch our timecards. ‘Work’ is our title, not so much what we do-sitting in the corner office, or on the beach, typing a blog post, or scrolling through social feeds. There’s this thing that capitalism has done with the advent of social capital and a reliance on a ‘marketplace of ideas’ and that is turn leisure time into ‘work’ as well, or ‘labor’ more specifically. (From here, I’ll use ‘work’ to talk about effort taken exclusively to gain personal capital, and ‘labor’ as any effort that benefits any external forces.)
Because that ‘writing of blog posts and scrolling through social feeds’ is most assuredly ‘labor.’ Labor that few of us are able to turn to work and are heavily encouraged to do for free. Even encouraged to do at the expense of proper sleep and our own time use for no compensation, financial or otherwise. It’s not enough any more for us to work at a job to make people we’ll never meet rich, we’re also expected to dive into our digital realms and argue and vote and ‘like’ and create content on platforms we don’t own that act as a free backdrop to show and sell advertisement space in or around.
So in many ways, we modern people are always working. Even when we’re making art, when we showcase it on a platform, and have it evangelized, we still end up creating value and relational currency for the owners of that platform. Social growth we create is still in position to be co-opted by powerful forces that will use what we’ve offered and transform it to their own wealth. It’s crazy. facebook did that trick we do to kids when we tell them to ‘make picking up their toys a game.’ Our facebook arguments, product research we do on amazon, videos we click ‘like’ on youtube are labor. These activities add value to the platform, value that is not shared with those of us who use it. (When they figure out how to get ads in our dreams they’ll be sure to invest. Sleeping pills and: ‘google Mattress. Sleep everywhere’.)
Doing well comes with a need to do better. Doing nothing feels like being absolved of responsibility but I’m finding it sets me on paths chosen by much larger, capitalistic others. I now recognize how important it is to control as much of the ‘means of production’ as one can when making and sharing anything. It’s not bad for someone to make money from the work I do, but I now feel a great deal more responsibility for whom I allow to do so.
Do I like being manipulated? I would say no… but I don’t like remembering birthdays either. Nor do I like keeping track of all my contacts, finding interesting things to read, and seeking out information on important global occurrences: apps do the invisible work that used to have to be done much more slowly and deliberately. That’s useful enough to me without even talking about the perverse pleasure I get from being seen and read and liked. Then, as a writer and artist, my own fortunes are tied up in the ecosystem too: I have to join the manipulation in order to eat.
Ever felt the phantom vibration-where your leg feels like it’s getting a vibration notification despite your phone not being in your pocket? Have you ever compulsively checked the same app over and over again despite no new notifications or information? Have you ever used the (anti)interpersonal technique of starting to look at the cellular device whenever you feel uncomfortable or exposed? That’s the sub-mind’s sub-processes hijacking your subconscious to manipulate your conscious mind to its own ends. Those ends are to compile as much of your attention as possible to the point where you also gift the system all your best ideas, contacts and even money so that it can grow in perpetuity along with containing your best years so it can keep you a customer.
One look at the device in the morning, and my spongy, half asleep brain is already basing its entire sense of balance on not just what it does see, but what it doesn’t. What posts remained liked and unliked? Who hasn’t gotten back to me yet? Or better yet, who’s already pissed at me (or still pissed, rather)?
That same drama that the clock creates has an emotional assistant in all other notifications that light my brain up and drives me right back to the digital landscape of anxiety and struggle. I’ve barely been awake 10 seconds. –Michael Bridgett, Jr.
S P A C E is a weekly zine. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, with the people, objects, and places where we go, in S P A C E. This issue was edited and styled in the cloud by our team members in Phnom Penh, Vilnius and Đà Lạt. First released January 2019, and redesigned for re-issue 2020.
I sent some invites out for this a few days back. If you got it, cool. If you didn’t, and you are curious, and we already know each other, just email me. I’ll send you the passcode and you can take a look. For all others, I’m just going to do an open call, but not until I have more time for that. Say, in December [see earlybird registration page].
DISCOVERY & CO-DISCOVERY. ‘Papers’ is happening in collaboration with Kismuth Books, which is another project of mine. Like Design Kompany, Kismuth has found its own way in the world and discovered itself through that meander.
Both projects aim to create spaces for people to relax and discover. Whether it’s through reading or co-creating works of design or poetry or what have you, the motion towards being in a quiet and comfortable space that’s not too overwhelming or noisy or overpopulated is the intention for us, here. Then, you just show up. Then, everything starts. It goes where it wants to. Nonlinear, no agenda. The rules of Open Space include: the people who come are the right people, it starts when it starts, it’s over when it’s over, and the things that happen therein are the only things that could’ve.
In other words, you just let it happen. Much like a jazz jam session, which I talk about a lot. But also: design. The creative process that is best styled is that which listens for the interesting-ness to emerge.
In that same vein, we do our things, in ‘Papers.’ In virtual space.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED. If you’re new to DK, the next opening for applications is December [see earlybird registration page]. But if you aready know me and are curious, please get in touch on email. I’ll tell you the details, and share the passcode, and we can talk about it.
Still writing, and still co-journaling. Only differently..
In 2014 I started something that was an early version of this, it was called ‘the cojournal.’ And now, after a real, I brought it back but in a clarified form. Naturally. I’m in the business of design and so, when I learn a thing about what works or doesn’t in a space, I want to make the next one even better by applying what I’ve gathered. The pros of last time were that we could talk a lot with a lot of people, because of the way it was arranged. The cons of last time were that we could talk a lot with a lot of people, which meant it got a little unfocused, bloated, and overwhelming at times.
I lost interest in my own project and asked people to cancel their subscriptions. Really. Two guests did not, which was quite endearing because they had each asked if we could carry on, somehow. So I reframed it from ‘cojournaling’ into more of a mini-magazine. Just like, made by the people who are talking, and read by us, too. It almost feels like a social media platform that’s highly curated, and walled off, and no one knows what’s happening except for those of us who are participant. And, importantly: fully present. It’s not one of those things that you have a tab open for, and visit casually. It’s a space for really getting acquainted with each other. And ourselves. Long story. I can share. Slowly, if you’re curious, and if you do that hard thing that people have these days which is making a choice to show up for this. I show for people who show up. And. That’s. It.
Since May it’s been going quietly, like this. So far, so good. Things have emerged a lot already and it feels right, it feels good. Topics continue to emerge in that nonlinear, playful, light, but not insignificant sphere of discovery and design that is uniquely DK’s mode. If you want to try it, and you are brand new to DK, then I think we can talk about trying things out together in… December. I’ll have more free time then to get to know new people. I’ve just really gotten tired of new people, lately. And old people who became, to me, rather unintriguing. So yeah. Shifts. Edits… Speaking of editing… I have to go now and finish editing End of the Rainbow. Wish me luck, yo.
Making space for people to write more. Sharing our stories together as we go. Designing the syllabus for September, based on threads that are emerging. Conversations, every single day, as well as those that have been going for years and years, interlace in DK | Papers. The next call for applications will be in December. Check out FB to keep up with us, there. Meantime… I’m learning as I go that design isn’t ‘making meaning’ as I used to say before, in the 2010s… or ‘trust the process’ as I would keep on talking about, too. It’s something else. Far more important.
Design is listening.
HT Y, V, T & P from DL conversations. And also: A & A in DK | June Papers.
An interactive, hands-on workshop. Write. Discover. And perhaps be featured to share your work one day, if there’s resonance and rapport, in our weekly e-mag S P C.
DK is in Saigon for a set of time to find new voices and select and edit stories.
A. Spaice hosts. Experience S P C.
Will we meet you?
No experience necessary. Writers, artists, designers, and illustrators are welcome. No photographers, please. Just too much of that, these days. We want to slow down and make a space to discover, quietly and together, what’s interesting about *right here*, and *right now*. Note: we will ask you to put your phone into a box, when we begin!
Secret location, District 1, public space. Bring a +1 for free.
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.’
Dipika Kohli’s Interactive Papers Project..
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.