Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is 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, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016. More recently, Emma trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, interested in how a heightened awareness of the body and breath, alongside meditation and attention practices, might be integrated into art-writing, artistic practice, pedagogy and research.

Publication: Seeing Bodies

I have contributed a text to a new publication called Seeing Bodies by artist Belén Cerezo. Seeing Bodies gathers Belén Cerezo's most recent artistic research that translates to the visual arts some of the main features of the unclassifiable and fascinating literary work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (1920-1977). Cerezo is interested in Lispector’s affirmation of life and her questioning of binary thinking, and crucially, in how she writes with the body. The title of this publication, Seeing Bodies, is a reference to the work of philosopher and phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty and it attempts to grasp how Cerezo's work explores a gaze that is not detached from the body, but sees with and through the body. 


This book focuses on two works: Viviendo el día (Living the Day) (2018) and A Pool of Light (2019), that extend from Cerezo's artistic investigation and that stage a transdisciplinary encounter between reading, filming and installation practices. Seeing Bodies is structured in two sections: the first one carefully gathers visual documentation of Cerezo's works, and the second one is composed of three texts by invited contributors: ‘Lighting the Reading: A conversation between Belén Cerezo and Maria Ptqk thinking-with Clarice Lispector, Donna Haraway and María Puig de la Bellacasa’, ‘Being in the World, Being in the Image’ by Sergio Martínez Luna and ‘Touched by a Lighter Sensitivity; or, On How Not to Break the Egg’ by Emma Cocker. Seeing Bodies is designed by Gorka Eizagirre and has been funded by the Culture Department, Basque Government. 

Below is an extract from my text, ‘Touched by a Lighter Sensitivity; or, On How Not to Break the Egg’.


"[...] The artist has a job to do, a role to perform. An attempt is made to resist resolution, not to allow the work to become too quickly fixed into definitive form. This is not to privilege the process above the product, but rather to dispense of these categories altogether, since here they no longer serve. The work of art is the work of art. What is encountered is the endeavour of practice, where the means are not separable from the end. The working of the work (its moments of epiphany and revelation) can be unpredictable, unforeseeable in advance. Known only when seen, recognisable only when found. Necessarily then, the artist proceeds somewhat blindly, in the absence of a clear plan. Yet, this is not to say that artistic work is vague or imprecise, unthinking or impulsive. Rather, because she does not yet know what she is searching for, the artist must remain vigilant and alert, attentive and receptive to the possibilities within every instant. Too strong her intent and she misses the kairos. [...]


The work of the artist might well begin in the absence of a clearly defined question or place to start. Yet, this is not to say that she sets out from nothing — from blank slate or empty stage — for there is always a before. Still, she ventures from where she finds herself, at this moment, here-and-now. Artistic process involves a reciprocal relation between thinking and making — the edges where one starts and the other begins can be difficult to discern. Thinking-making — a complex relation, from com- with, together, and plectere meaning to weave, to braid, entwine. Making-thinking. Which comes first … the chicken or the egg? This question speaks of a desire to differentiate cause from effect; moreover, to establish these relations within a chronological timeframe. It can seem that causes come first, whilst effects necessarily follow. Resistant to the sequential logic of this-follows-this, the conundrum of the chicken and egg refers to the interweaving of a mutually dependent relation. There is no originary cause, since each is dependent on the other for its coming-into-existence. Likewise, one might consider the relation between artistic thinking and making, even between artist and art. As the artist works to create the conditions for artistic practice, in turn, the practising of artistic work shapes her subjectivity, her way of being in the world. Art and artist are thus radically co-constitutive: each draws the other into being, affirmation of a mutual bringing-into-life".


Language-Based Artistic Research: Special Interest Group

Towards curiosity and openness, exploration beyond definition: How is language-based artistic research? Beyond words alone, how is artistic research undertaken in and through different language-based practices? The focus on language within artistic research is considered from a broad and transforming perspective to include diverse fields such as visual arts, performance, film, theatre, music, choreography as well as literature. The intent is not to define or fix what language-based artistic research is but rather to reflect how it is practised in its diversity.


Conceived and co-organised by Emma Cocker, Alexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus and Lena Séraphin, this Society of Artistic Research Special Interest Group (SAR SIG) provides a context for coming together via the exchange of language-based artistic research. A SIG website has now been launched – see https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/835089/835129


Emergent aims of the Special Interest Group include: to explore language as part of artistic research practice rather than as a tool of explication and accounting; to expand the idea of language-based practices (to include and to move beyond writing, reading, speaking, listening); to create contexts (physical and virtual) for language-based artistic researchers to show and share practices; identify examples of practice within the field of artistic research and to establish shared frames of reference; share the findings from projects and residencies that focus on language-based artistic research.


Call for Contributions: Artist-researchers working with language are invited to contribute to Practice Sharing, an online presentation of expanded approaches to language-based practice within the field of artistic research. Examples of language-based artistic research are invited focusing on specific practices, processes, approaches or methods; ways of working, constellations of activity or framing patterns, particular projects or lines of enquiry-in-practice. Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2020.  See full call here: 

Special Issue: Practices of Phenomenological and Artistic Research

I am a co-editor (with Alex Arteaga, Juha Himanka and Journal Editor Erika Goble) of a Special Issue of the Journal of Phenomenology and Practice, on “Practices of Phenomenological and Artistic Research”.
This special issue will explore existing and possible connections between two different sets of practices: phenomenological research practice and artistic research practice. On the one hand, both sets of practices share a basic aspect: they approach their object of research as phenomena, that is, through their phenomenal presences. On the other hand, these sets of practice are configured by different forms of action developed in different media — among many others, written or oral language, drawing, architectural design, film, photography, sound or body movement. On this twofold basis, we are inviting submissions that address the following questions and demonstrate them in action: How do the commonalities between practices and methods of artistic and phenomenological research manifest? How can phenomenological research be accomplished in artistic media and by artistic means? How can artistic research extend the scope of phenomenology as research practice? In turn, how can phenomenology contribute to further develop artistic research practices? 
The focus of this special issue goes beyond traditional views of the relationships between art and phenomenology by considering both as fields of research, or more specifically, as ways of researching through phenomena. For the purposes of this special issue, art is not approached as an object of research for phenomenologists and phenomenology should not be treated in this context as a theoretical reference for artists producing art works. Accordingly, we are neither focusing on inquiry into practices of artistic production based in or inspired by phenomenology nor on phenomenological theories of art.
Instead, we are focusing on research practices developed through the influence, combination or even hybridization of phenomenological and artistic approaches. We are convinced that in pushing this subject matter we are contributing to an original methodological development of both fields: phenomenology and artistic research.
We invite submissions from artistic researchers and phenomenologists that activate the concerns of this Special Issue, Practices of Phenomenological and Artistic Research. The call can be viewed here.

Publication: Ecologies of Practice

We - Emma Cocker, Cordula Daus, Lena Séraphin - have a research exposition published in this current issue of RUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research. Our research exposition is entitled Reading on Reading: Ecologies of Reading.

Issue #14 Ecologies of Practice

What can artistic research do in an ecology of research practices?

The RUUKKU issue Ecologies of Practice has its starting point in the Research Pavilion #3 project, hosted by University of the Arts Helsinki, that brought together more than fifty artist-researchers from twenty countries over a period of twenty months. The key aim of Research Pavilion #3 was to foster new artistic research culture and collegial exchange. The project started with an open call for "Research Cells" in April 2018 and evolved through a series of Research Cell Assemblies organised in Helsinki to an intensive period of activity in the context of the Venice Biennale. The high season of the project was wrapped up in October 2019 in the form of a concise research exhibition entitled RP#3 Info Lab that took place at the Exhibition Laboratory in Helsinki. The entire Research Pavilion #3 project is extensively documented in the Research Catalogue (https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/474888/474889).

The call for RUUKKU #14 encouraged the Research Cells and individual participants of the Research Pavilion to submit the outcomes of their research to the peer-review process. The call also explicitly opened the doors for further submissions beyond the Research Pavilion project. The issue consists of fifteen expositions, eight of them deriving from the Research Pavilion #3 project. The authors are Annette Arlander, Alex Arteaga, Louise Atkinson, Laura Bissell, Tine Blom, Claire Robyn Booth-Kurpnieks, Emma Cocker, Cordula Daus, Ozgu Gundeslioglu, Maria Huhmarniemi, Katja Juhola, Pekka Kantonen, Esa Kirkkopelto, Riikka Latva-Somppi, Maiju Loukola, Otso Lähdeoja, Charulatha Mani, Mari Martin, Maarit Mäkelä, Tuula Närhinen, Kaisa Raatikainen, and Lena Séraphin. Voices section includes a contribution by Lucy Cotter, and the Lectio series features Henna-Riikka Halonen. The issue is edited by Mika Elo, Tero Heikkinen and Henk Slager.

The peer-reviewed issue Ecologies of Practice sums up Research Pavilion #3, but the Research Pavilion project will continue to highlight the manifold practices and approaches of artistic research. These include further publishing activities: an open call for a special issue "Practices of Phenomenological and Artistic Research" of Phenomenology & Practice is soon to be announced by the members of the Through Phenomena Themselves Research Cell that was part of Research Pavilion #3. The fourth edition of the Research Pavilion will be organised in Helsinki in 2021.

Award: SAR RC Prize 2019 Winner

The Society of Artistic Research SAR RC Prize for Best Exposition 2019 goes to: Choreo-graphic Figures: Scoring Aesthetic Encounters (2019) Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil-Moebius, Simona Koch.

The exposition Choreo-graphic Figures: Scoring Aesthetic Encounters (2019) stages an encounter between choreography, drawing, sound and writing in order to explore those knowledge forms through collaborative exchange. The exposition stages the different modes of practice as an actual dialogue and collision, and derives from the findings of the research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line (2014-2017) by Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil. The researchers seek to extend their investigation in questioning how a digital archive can be created that is capable of reflecting the durational and relational aspects of the research process. The outcome is a non-linear rhizomatic (using the artists’ term) encounter with artistic research, where the findings are activated as a choreo-graphic event. The artist and designer Simona Koch supported the transformation from an embodied, experiential enquiry into different publication formats, including a text-based book, alongside the online digital format of the RC exposition. The RC complements the shortcomings of printed material and utilizes the performative qualities of sound, image and film that cannot be expressed in the printed material. In this way in the project, the digital and printed material complement each other.

The exposition can be encountered experientially through a section called ‘Playing the Score’, whilst the ‘Find Out More’ section contains contextual framing alongside conceptual-theoretical reflections on the ecology of practices and figures. The authors make an interesting use of the RC platform, communicating their research through rich and articulate interactions between text and multimedia materials. Once the user selects ‘Play the Score’, the exposition becomes an inhabited drawing where performance, documentation, notation and user agency are blurred, and their interconnections are explored in rich ways. The complexity of the exposition is built through written and spoken word, video and sound recordings, photos and graphic elements that enable and encourage the user to literally re-enact the research process. Documentation of the performative elements of the research interplay with artistic writings, presented as animated text elements and reflections of notational forms that are embedded in the current discourse on [e.g.] aesthetics and human nature. The delightful and enjoyable layout and design of the exposition helps the reader understand the content. The exposition was published in Journal for Artistic Research – JAR 18.

Ottersberg 15.03.20
Gabriele Schmid, Prize Jury Chair

The Jury was comprised of Gabriele Schmid, Chair / Angela Bartram (substitute) from SAR Executive Board; Karst de Jong / Heidi Paatere Möller (substitute) from SAR Portal Partners and Matilde Meireles / Diogo Alvim (substitute) as previous prize-winners.

Event: Site Writing

I have been invited to contribute to the MA module in Site Writing led by Jane Rendell at the Bartlett School of Architecture. Site-writing (a term coined and conceptualised by Rendell) is a critical and ethical spatial practice that explores what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity enter the writing of criticism, history and theory, and writers reflect on their own subject positions in relation to their particular objects and fields of study, and on how their writing can engage materially with their sites of inquiry and audiences. Drawing out the spatial qualities of these interactions between writers and readers on the one hand, places, artefacts, and texts on the other, includes sites – material, political and conceptual – as well as those remembered, dreamed and imagined. By drawing on the emotional, as well as the political, qualities of interactions between subjects and sites, site-writings have the potential to reconfigure the relations between spatial theories, poetics, and practices, in ways that are ethical and aesthetic.

I (as part of my collaboration The Italic I, with Clare Thornton) have also recently contributed pages to Jane Rendell’s online archive of site-writing, which draws together the examples by writers whose work is engaged – closely and at a distance – with the concepts and processes of site-writing. 

Keynote: International Conference On Live Coding

I am an invited keynote at the forthcoming International Conference On Live Coding taking place from 5 – 7 February 2020 in Limerick.

The International Conference on Live Coding (ICLC) is dedicated to artistic research on the technologies, practices and philosophies that interpret the use of computer code as gesture within a live performance. ICLC 2020 takes place in Limerick and theoretical works, performances, workshops and installations that explore (but that may not be limited to) the following topics will be presented and performed:

THEORIES OF LIVE CODING: Live Coding and Open Source Culture, Ethics Of Live Coding, Audience Perspectives and Heterophenomenologies, Aesthetics, Esolang, Philosophy Of Software, Inclusion/Equity, Cultural Processes, Phenomenology Of Live Code, Live Coding And Embodiment, Philosophy of Code and Computation.

TECHNOLOGIES OF LIVE CODING: Programming Language Design, Web Live Coding, Live Coding and Autonomous Agents, AI And Live Coding, Live Coding Maker Movement, Live Coding Ecosystems, Experience Design, Visualising Live Process, Interface Design, CUIs:Code As Live User Interface. More info at: http://iclc.livecodenetwork.org/2020/

Conference presentation: No Telos - Tactics of Affirmative Uncertainty,

Danica Maier and I will be presenting a paper at The Crisis Collective! the forthcoming SAR International Conference on Artistic Research 2020 held on 25–28 March 2020 in Bergen, Norway. The Crisis Collective! investigates and discusses the relation between Artistic Research, various notions of collective reality and alternative imaginations. Can Artistic Research - through artistic actions - generate alternative modes of knowledge, art, and reality? Our proposed presentation will contribute to the thematic strand within the conference entitled Hammer and Mirror? The language of artistic research. Artistic research shares its metaphorical language with the language of capitalism, sports, and warfare. Resource. Production. Method. Gain. Challenge. Opposition. Defence. This vocabulary creates a formal context and an imminent agency that might influence the specific Artistic Research undertakings and their potential to intervene into the larger collectives of reflection and discourse.

Abstract: No Telos - Tactics of Affirmative Uncertainty
How can artistic research operate alternatively to the language of capitalism, sports and warfare (modelled on economic efficiency/gain, competition/success, target-hitting/strategic machination)? How can artistic research practices that are non-teleological, atelic or autotelic intervene in and unsettle the outcome-motivated and achievement-driven tendencies of contemporary culture, by cultivating shared practices of experiential becoming and collective being-doing? Reflecting on No Telos (2016>) — a project exploring the critical role of uncertainty, disorientation and not knowing within artistic research-practice — we ask: How can we shift emphasis from goal-oriented productivity towards experimental forms of process-led exploration, subversive playfulness and wilful irresolution? Can we differentiate affirming and debilitating forms of uncertainty and open-endedness, between a not knowing that vectors towards generative exploration and that which paralyses, creates stasis? What role has the practising of creative uncertainty within the uncertain conditions of contemporary life? Towards an ethics of uncertainty — how can an encounter with the unfamiliar and strange(r) operate as a micro-political, ethico-aesthetic practice? The rhetoric of art practice, pedagogy and research often foregrounds not knowing, uncertainty and getting lost — yet how can such principles be taught or practised?  Against the strategic power dynamics of institutionalised research, No Telos embraces Michel de Certeau’s advocacy of everyday ‘tactics’ that invigorate the experiential quality of life lived — aesthetic practices of reading, looking, walking, talking, eating, being-with. Invoking the Latin etymology of ‘mirror’ — mirare: to observe, contemplate, look at, wonder — we ask: How can artistic research not only mirror back (reflect, reveal) the conditions of life as-is, but also reactivate critical curiosity (Paulo Freire), re-engage a capacity for collective attention and imagination?