The Operating System

EDITORIAL :: FIELD NOTES and the RHIZOME : the series grows wild and free

“from the seemingly random the rhizome develops” – Bob Holman, June 23rd, 2012 @ Naropa SWP | intuitive responsive visualised field notes by Lynne DeSilva-Johnson

Since the inauguration of the Field Notes series there has been a great rumbling — not only of interest in the project [on deck: filmmakers, musicians, programmers, visual artists, activists…!] but also in the expansion of its attentions.
Given our proclivity towards community collaboration we eagerly sop up the runoff of creative juices that gathers like dew on you all in the morning! So, naturally, to the question, “could we also include ____?” the answer is, why NOT?
If you’re new to Exit Strata, this is a good time to introduce you to our commitment to PROCESS: as much or more than we are excited to share and celebrate the products we create, we thrive and exist around the notion of creating community together via an intentional desire to the work of art. That is to say the WORK that is art, and the collaborative acts of craft across many disciplines that make this work so rich. We are not interested in what is NOT. We are interested in IS. Human attention, human questioning, universal energetic wanderings, coding, mathematical formulation, scientific inquiry, yoga, chanting, dance, film, music, sound, translation, fiction, poetry, prose, aphorism. Is it ART? is it art? is it Art? This is an interesting question for another time, but also a different question than it may appear to be. For our purposes, we are more interested in “does it inspire? does it help me and my community grow/think/learn/be better?” and to look at how the creative people (which doesn’t necessarily mean “artists”) in our midst use their notes to grow themselves and their work.
Above, you see a responsive notebook page of mine that ebbed and flowed, responding to the rhythms of a poetry reading that was introduced by Bob Holman, who spoke the words above: “from the seemingly random the rhizome develops.” Something perhaps I never would have shared before this series, which brings some questions to the fore, for all of us:
What does your field-note-book look like?
For me, amongst the dense sequences of notes and text, scattered through with line drawings or geometric patterning, there is always interruption for full-pages like this, where I often play with font design/lettering, and a range of graphic elements. If I think about it, I can see how these sorts of self-imposed, naturally occurring exercises have had an enormous amount of influence on my graphic/publication design work; I can also see great artistry and worth, for an audience, in some of the work. Yet, for years I’ve really only seen these pages as receding into the background as tools for myself. But why? 
Part of the field notes series process, it turns out, can be an examination for the self and the community of what work we consider “valid” – to share, to publish, to consider “work” at all. Do you share and exhibit your sketches? Do you formalize your poetry? Do you force your fiction into particular formats? Some questions for ourselves as we consider the notebook is : how am I creating barriers in my own process? where do I draw lines in the self-consideration of validation? can I consider this work “done” insofar as it is worthy of sharing? how do I judge the work of other people who make different practice models? do I judge myself more harshly than I need to? would it be helpful for me to consider more of my work valid for sharing? and so on.
In the FIELD NOTES series, we celebrate and make valid our process — and we encourage you to scan or photograph pages you’ve already completed, or to create new notes intentionally, so as to engage in whatever way you may find the most productive. This has enormous potential as a tool for not only personal growth, but dialogue and collaboration amongst our members as we come to appreciate and learn from each other’s methods.
The personal and collective appreciation of these quotidian efforts must also be mentioned: there’s much to be said for taking a secret, special thing out of a box where you hide it and keep it safe. We are ultimately fearful of rejection (let’s just come right out and admit it!) and our field-note-books can be a very personal thing where we feel protected – however, there can be an enormous amount of freedom gained from opening these efforts up to a trusted network, and then, from feeling not only NOT rejection but great appreciation and admiration. We believe this can be an empowering experiment for all of us.
Here I wanted to share with you two snippets of upcoming contributor work:
a field-notes-meta-bio, as a response to frustration with a standard CV or resume

Chris Carr, Eat the Cake NYC

by the Brooklyn-based polymath-photographer-musician Chris Carr, of Eat The Cake NYC
And here is are two pages ” layered over about 6 or 7 times over the course of almost two years” from the notebooks of Seattle based programmer/activist/designer Lion Kimbro.
He writes, of these: “they were part of a question I asked myself, ‘What is meaning? What does meaning mean?’ …and branched off into another question: ‘What is a meaning of ‘divinity’ (or the “sense of divinity”) that atheists too could relate to?’
We are open to opening. To the series working for and through you.

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