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. 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.

Yes/No/Other Options

Host Artists’ Group
‘Host 8: Observatory’ *
Millennium Galleries

During February and March I will be participating in a project developed by Host Artists Group (HAG) as part of the city wide festival Art Sheffield 08: Yes/No/Other Options. Host Artists Group (HAG) is an artist’s group based in Sheffield with an interest in curating and producing art in alternative spaces and distributable formats. The project that HAG are developing for the festival ART SHEFFIELD 08 is different to previous Host projects. The theme of the festival, Yes/No/Other Options, addresses ideas of overload, burn-out, performativity and latency, and HAG have decided to work with the last two of these in this project. Rather than inviting artists to submit actual work for exhibition, this project seeks to make visible the act of production in the absence of the product, visualising the latency or activity involved in the practice of art making.

I am interested in how this 'experiment' might be used to explore other modes of writing and to allow me to reflect on my own practice as a writer, especially in monitoring the subjective or emotionally felt, or attempting to 'account for' my activity when so often this remains an invisible gesture. I am planning on archiving my 'reports' at http://it-is-not-that-easy.blogspot.com/

1. I have not been all that productive today. Today has simply passed by.
2. I have an ache in my left shoulder blade which is often an indication of production, or at least of writing something.
3. I think I may be deleting more words than I am writing. I will try and monitor the production output of this destructive process more efficiently in future.
4. Only eight emails sent yesterday which was disproportionately small against the number of times email had been checked. I am concerned about such moments of compulsive non-productivity and time-wasting. They do not feel especially resistant gestures
5. I am not at or in work tomorrow so perhaps I will make or do work instead. I must try and remember this distinction for at times this nuance becomes blurred.
6. I don't think I will be doing much work today. I am sorry. Production has been stopped for essential maintenance.
7. It is not that easy. There are certain things that I have forgotten to do. Certain things that cannot wait until tomorrow
8. I am feeling resentful as looming deadlines determine today’s actions. I know that it is too late to back track on commitments made at quieter times. Guilt and obligation have become the hardest task-masters.
9. I am wishing I had not been so eager. I am wishing I had said no.
10. I am afraid I am letting you down. I am finding that things are falling out of sync I am concerned that the efficiency of my own production has been compromised by the facilitation of other's actions. I know what I should do but I am unable to say no

More about the project
Host Artists Group’s project focuses on the process, location and politics of artistic production. Their piece is an installation of models and sound broadcasts which reflect on the activities of 21 invited artists. The ‘Host 8: Observatory’ comprises 21 semi-transparent perspex models, made to scaled down plans of each represented artist’s workspace. Each model contains a light, the intensity of which will be set to a level that corresponds to the artist’s own perception of their current productivity. If the artist is running at full power, then so will the light; if in a period of latency, then the light will be dimmed. In addition, the participating artists compose bulletins on the state of their current activities that will be automatically relayed and played back intermittently in the space. The project provokes questions concerning the visibility and evaluation of artistic productivity. The trouble with artistic labour has always been that, while the inner and outer pressure to perform and be creative is always on, standards for assessing this creativity are impossible to determine. How do you measure the degree of dedication, the quality of ideas or the intensity of inspired moments that define the creative process? While, for good reasons, artistic labour then resists objective evaluation, its conditions are not entirely subjective either – because they are shared. A lot of people make art, work under comparable precarious conditions and face similar pressures. It is precisely this ambivalence between the personal and the collective perception of artistic labour that the ‘Host 8: Observatory’ highlights (literally, and with tongue firmly in cheek) and politicises.

Host 8: Observatory is part of Art Sheffield 08, Yes No and Other Options

More about Art Sheffield 08 can be found at here, along with the contextual essay by Jan Verwoert

More about HOST