“Dig ‘em up dig ‘em up!”

by Kitty Drake in April 2021
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Art & design Literature Weird

Fieldnotes opens with a wildly enigmatic mission statement: 

“We present a new publication called FIELDNOTES! Or: something like a dog digging a hole, like a rat digging its burrow, carefully excavating like an armoured Caterpillar D9 Bulldozer, or grasping an eel hiding in a tank, reading between the lines of a field of Chinese cabbages, dig ‘em up dig ‘em up!,…”

The description on the website is (slightly) more straightforward: “We are interested in whatever there is between translations/transitions, things-in-progress…The purpose of the journal is to provide a test site for ideas and research; a space for experimental modes and new prototypes.”

The most interesting pieces in this magazine experiment with literary form in a way that is visually exciting. In ‘Thoughtforms’, the poet Sarah Mangold reinterprets watercolour illustrations. Mangold creates graphs made out of words, meant to “represent the aura around a person in different life circumstances (at a funeral, at a shipwreck, street accident, gambler, etc.)”. In my favourite graph, a pastoral church scene is plotted out on a kind of acrostic bar chart. 

Fieldnotes has a sloping, writerly font and the magazine is small, thick, and bookish. It’s unassuming, rather cosy-looking exterior is in stark contrast to its content, which is often so formally strange it is difficult to follow. The photography features, while similarly unsettling, require less “dog digging” of the reader. One black-and-white image shows a flock of birds spiraling through the air. Flicking through this publication I found myself repeatedly surprised by beauty.



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