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 enquiry focuses on the process of artistic endeavour, alongside 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.

Presentation: Close Reading / Open Reading


I am in the process of testing out some new work, in preparation for my presentation Close Reading / Open Reading, which is part of the Writing (the) Space Event, Thursday 19 May at Wild Pansy Press Project Space. Close Reading / Open Reading investigates the capacity of methods of close attention for producing uncertainty, indeterminacy and formlessness rather than fixing or clarifying any single, stable meaning, where paradoxically perhaps, the more something becomes scrutinized the less it becomes known. Within my practice, processes of extraction, fragmentation, listing, footnoting and cross-referencing become used for generating 'openings' rather than conclusions, for appearing purposeful whilst remaining without clear or discernible intent. 

My presentation will move from considering my recent collaboration with Rachel Lois Clapham (Re -) towards introducing aspects of my more emergent research collaboration with artist Jim Boxall entitled, Close Readings. As part of this new research project we propose to explore the notion of close reading or of an ‘explication de texte’ as a tactic through which to interrogate the performative and spatial dimensions of written text. Here, close reading is not understood as the critical attention paid to the meaning of words themselves as signs, but is instead interested in those meanings produced by looking at the spatiality of words ‘close up’, through a process of visual magnification or close visual attention. Close Reading / Open Reading explores the threshold space where writing or text collapses into its component parts (ink and page), or the point where the sense or legibility of a word is rendered illegible or nonsensical the closer it is attended to, as writing slips towards image. I envisage future experiments emerging from this presentations exploring the relationship between the practices of flitting and lingering (over a text).