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.

Conference: Telling Stories: Theories and Criticism

Conference paper and forthcoming publication (2007)
'Telling Stories: Theories and Criticism' @ Loughborough School of Art and Design, April 2007
Read more at here.

New modes of critical writing are challenging conventional expectations of meaning and objectivity through narrative/counter-narrative, authorial presence, style, language, and rhetoric. This development is also present in the visual arts. Writings, which offer alternative forms to synthesis, and the linear and conclusive, challenge the boundaries between theory and literature and between the rational and subjective. Speakers are invited to explore the performative exchange across verbal and experiential disciplines. This conference forms part of a series that will examine the manner and structure of narration across a range of contemporary practices (e.g. art object, film, photography, criticism). Keynote speakers include Yve Lomax (Royal College of Art) and Jane Rendell (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

Image: Heather and Ivan Morison, Chinese Arboretum

Abstract: Not Yet There: Endless Searches and Irresolvable Quests
The list unfolds like chapters or episodes from a Paul Auster novel: the blind following of another’s footfall; the retracing of an already failed endeavour; journeys with guidebooks whose content is obsolete; global expeditions at the request of tree fanatics; a tragic sea voyage in search of the miraculous; the hunt for angels. The paper explores how irresolution, uncertainty, disorientation and the process of ‘getting lost’ might be valued as strategic conditions within artistic and research practice. It draws attention to artistic practices that critically adopt an endless, repeated or irresolvable quest as a central strategy, in order to propose a model of research or criticism based on the notion of ludic wandering. In both practice and theory, the endless or irresolvable quest might be seen as an attempt to reconcile the desire for knowledge and the lure of the teleological outcome, with the possibility of ambiguity, indeterminacy and inconclusive action. Whilst the method of a traditional quest narrative might be adopted within such practices, the notion of the telos is often rejected or sabotaged in favour of a redeemed or strategic form of anti-climax or deferral, where the indeterminate or latent potential of being ‘not yet there’ is privileged above the finality of closure. Reclaimed from the vaults of Romanticism and invested with a sense the ludic or absurd, the irresolvable quest can be redefined as a critical and conceptual site of meaningful non-productivity. It enables a space of intentional aporia or conjecture that encourages the potential for irresolution and transitivity, and which emphasises the interplay between facts and fictions. Drawing on Roger Caillois’ analysis of play and games, the paper proposes a conceptual framework through which to explore the notion of the irresolvable quest, where it is possible to conceive a critical paradigm that allows for pleasurable and unproductive states of uncertainty and indecision, whilst at the same time enabling meaningful questions or hypotheses to be inhabited or tested out.

Jane Rendell (Bartlett School of Architecture)
Site-Writing: Subjectivity and Positionality in Art Criticism
Yve Lomax (Royal College of Art)
Talking Theory
Emma Cocker (Nottingham Trent University)
Not Yet There : Endless Searches and Irresolvable Quests
Maria Fusco (University of East London)
Without Me You're Nothing: Fiction, Art Criticism and the Art of Anti-Suspense
Francis Halsall (Limerick School of Art & Design)
Aesthetics and the Writing of Art-History
Craig Martin (University College for the Creative Arts)
The Methodology of Mailmen: On Delivering Theory
Mary Oliver (writer, performer, director, University of Salford)
Never Work with Animals, Children and Digital Characters
Sissu Tarka (artist, curator)
Turbulent Relations