Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research focuses on the process of artistic exploration and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ emerging therein; on models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been published in Failure, 2010; Stillness in a Mobile World, 2010; Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought, 2011; Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art, 2012; Reading/Feeling (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.

SAR document: Documenting the Academy: Diagrams and Field-Notes



The 1st Society of Artistic Research Academy took place in Barcelona (Facultat d’Humanitats  / University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 14 — 17 March 2018), bringing together a specially invited group of international artists/scholars, involved with and dedicated to research in the arts, from different disciplines and with different backgrounds (and opinions) to discuss the current questions and issues related to artistic research with reference to the thematics of Epistemology; Artefacts; Methodologies; Modes of Language.

Writer-artist Emma Cocker and artist Nikolaus Gansterer were both invited to ‘document’ the academy through the prism of their respective practices. In doing so, their ‘reports’ offer a partial and fragmentary response to the event — subjectively selective, irresolutely incomplete.

Emma Cocker approached the task of documentation through a process that she calls ‘field notes’ — which involved trying to ‘catch’ what was ‘in the air’ during the event itself as a series of thought-fragments and short phrases. During the three days of the Academy, Cocker’s attention focused on capturing these thought-fragments as they were uttered live by the event contributors, accumulating as a chronological list in her notebooks. The fragments have since been typed up and organized in reverse-sequence. Distilled into poetic condensations — still retaining the exact reverse-sequence logic — the intent is to evoke the atmosphere of the discussion rather than ‘factually’ record or describe what took place. 

Nikolaus Gansterer documented the event through the prism of his drawing practice, specifically through a form of diagrammatic drawing and annotation. His drawing process within the Academy echoed the mode of diagrammatic praxis developed through a process called ‘translectures’ that Gansterer has developed for over a decade as a mode of live translation of a discursive event. His drawings offer fragile structures for creating dynamic relations between text and image, associative proximities between different ideas and thoughts. Rather than fixing the discussion within a diagrammatic form, the drawn diagrams function as contingent containers for holding in relation the content emergent within an unfolding discussion.

Presented together within the research catalogue, these two documenting approaches are brought into changing proximity — creating linkages as well as points of deviation.

The document can be viewed here.


Research event: Autotelic / Towards Play


Earlier in July I participated in Summer Lodge, an annual 2-week long residency taking place in the fine art studios at Nottingham Trent University. As part of this, I provided a contextual framework for the Lodge symposium which this year focused on the provocation 'Autotelic / Towards Play'.  

Autotelic / Towards Play
Summer Lodge symposium
Friday 6 July

Telos – with its etymological origins in the Greek télos (end), téleios (perfected) and teleîn (fulfillment) – refers to an ultimate object or aim, a specific end or purpose. In teleological terms, the value of action is essentially goal-oriented, determined in relation to achievement and attainment, the event of completion, of reaching the designed destination or target. Alternatively, autotelic (autos, ‘self’ and telos, ‘goal’) refers to an activity or a creative work that has an end or purpose in itself. Autotelic activities refuse the goal-oriented, reward-driven, outcome-motivated tendencies of contemporary culture. However, neither are they pitched in antagonistic relation to the idea of a goal or end: they are not against telos as such. Instead, autotelic activity has intrinsic meaning or purpose – internal to it, emerging through it – where the sense of its worth or value is not established or measured according to external criteria. Towards play: for this has no end or purpose other than itself, nor does ‘being in the zone’ - those ‘flow states’ of total absorption or immersion where action and awareness merge. Rather than choosing between outcome or open-ended activity, between process and product, an autotelic practice playfully navigates the spaces in-between, refusing the binary of either/or.

This year’s Summer Lodge symposium takes up the provocation Autotelic / Towards Play to explore ideas around playfulness and experimentation, immersion and absorption, inviting reflection on the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations at play within artistic practice, on striking the balance between working towards resolution whilst leaving things open.


Artists' publication: Above and Beyond



Over the last couple of years, I have been working with artist Rose Butler to develop a collaborative artists’ bookwork which is published this week.

We are told that there is no outside, that to make one’s resistance visible exposes it to control. Still, ways to resist must persist, for the imagining of a future otherwise. Pro-test then — test the system to its limits through the advance of experimental means; cultivate one’s disobedience as an aesthetic practice. Towards a resistant poetics of reorientation — tilt of experience on its axis such that it can be thought anew; radical reorganisation of attention above and beyond the conditions of surveillance and subjugation.

Above and Beyond is a dialogue between artist Rose Butler and writer-artist Emma Cocker reflecting on the interplay between surveillance and resistance; how technologies and techniques of capture might be subverted, transformed into experimental tactics of protest and dissent. The publication was developed through a process of conversation between Butler and Cocker taking place over a number of years (2015—2018), a period marked by substantial political shifts and humanitarian crisis, an unprecedented increase in surveillance and security control.

This collaborative artists’ publication is conceived in response to  Come and Go (see stills above), a dual screen interactive artwork by Rose Butler that takes Edison’s early films of the Serpentine Dance as its reference with the dance phrases filmed from above.

Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rose Butler
Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emma Cocker
Choreographer . . . . . Alexander Whitley
Dancer . . . . . . . . . . . . . Natalie Allen
Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joff and Ollie



Research Event: Translation Zone(s): A Constellation exhibition




With artist Clare Thornton, I will be showing a video work from our collaboration The Italic I as part of Translation Zone(s): Constellations, a programme of events curated by artist Heather Connelly within the frame of the 8th International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference in Hong Kong. More about the project here.

The Italic I is a collaborative art project that explores the performed event of surrendering to a repeated fall, slowed and extended through language and the lens. This enquiry focuses on the specificity of experience communicable in the translation of performance through its documents, both photographic and linguistic by asking: How do we translate the experiential nature of falling rather than documenting it only as a visual event? How can we develop a mode of linguistic expression — a mode of poetic textual translation — that embodies rather than describes the live experience that it seeks to articulate?

Translation Zone(s): Constellations is the collective term for the physical ‘zones’ or spatial configurations that Connelly devises to expand research into art-and-translation. These nomadic, multipurpose pop up project spaces, events and exhibitions foster a hospitable environment for interdisciplinary and transcultural research and seek to create the conditions for artists, academics and others to critically engage in the topic, participate and engage in activities, events and discussions that focus on the topic. The format and form of each zone/constellation is determined by its particular context, site, audience, themes, purpose and research questions that it is seeks to examine.

The exhibition includes work from established and emerging artists, curators, writers and researchers Bill Aitchison (UK/CN), Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton (UK), Heather Connelly (UK), Johanna Hällsten (SE/UK), Saskia Holmkvist (SE/NO), Rebecca Johnson (UK), Xiangyun Lim (SG), Marianna Maruyama (NL), Manuela Perteghella (IT/UK) and Ricarda Vidal (DE/UK), Annie Xu (CN/UK) and Solomon Yu, Jimmy Chan and Eddie Cheung (HK).

Translation Zone(s): Constellations, Hong Kong will be hosted by the 8th International Association of Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) Conference theme is Translation and Cultural Mobility , Hong Kong Baptist University (3 - 6th July 2018). This programme of events/exhibition has been designed to compliment and expand the Exploring Cultural Mobility through Visual and Performance Art panel convened by Gabriela Saldanha (University of Birmingham) and Cristina Marinetti (Cardiff University).