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 artistic processes and practices, 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 practice involves ‘contiguous writing’ — a mode of creative-critical writing that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her 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, The Yes of the No, 2016.

'Repeat, Repeat'

CHESTER UNIVERSITY School of Art and Design
19-21 April 2007

In the face of a well-theorised notion of difference the emergence of repetition as a key visual and cultural concept, and its suggested persistence of sameness, raises a range of questions. Constructions of time, subjectivity, organisation of power, gender, desire, creativity are all brought into focus through the movement of return and repeat that in turn highlights fundamental questions about subjectivity, embodiment and meaning. The contemporary age’s acceleration of technology has placed us within the logical outcomes of Marx early theorisation of repetitive labour and Benjamin’s reflections on art and mechanical reproduction. Repetition and its implications could therefore be seen as pivotal to an understanding of our contemporary cultural condition. Re-visiting, or re-assessing some of the founding ideas of modern culture could be seen as more than just repeating ourselves but, in the act itself, the reflection of a inescapable state of being. This conference addresses the implication of repetition for contemporary culture and its creative possibilities does repetition, as cultures dominant, seek to keep us in the same place, or does it reveal to us the possibilities of moving forward?

ABSTRACT: Chasing Shadows: Tactics for Getting lost

My paper explores the act of repetition evident in the gesture of following another, a mimetic form of performance that can be understood as an articulation of the desire to be led astray or to ‘lose oneself’ through relinquishing or giving over responsibility for one’s own actions. The act of following another is proposed as a form of escape or immersion whereby the itinerary of another is borrowed as a device for wilful disorientation, as a catalyst for a game of chance or as the impetus for ludic wandering. Referring to the writing of Roger Caillois on the practice of mimicry, the act of following another is explored as a form of both playful inhabitation and of involuntary possession; where the repeated gesture can be interpreted as a form of psychological deliquescence, and yet also as a strategic or ludic practice that performs to specific ‘rules of the game’. Drawing on the critical connections between surrealist and contemporary practices as a point of conceptual departure, the notion of repetition inherent in following another can be positioned as a paradigm of both compulsion and criticality: the embodiment of both existential alienation or psychosis, and a form of performative, playful resistance or role-play.

The full conference paper can be found here.
More information about the overall conference can be found here