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.

Reading Group: To Move and Be Moved

Affective Readings @ Site Gallery, Sheffield
Thursday 23 Feb 2012, 6pm onwards
Thursday 23 February, 8 March, 22 March, 5 April, 19 April. 

In partnership with If I Can't Dance I Don't Want to be Part of Your Revolution, I am hosting a series of reading group discussions at Site Gallery in Sheffield, for exploring a number of texts relating to the notion of AFFECT. The reading group is linked to the forthcoming exhibition by Jeremiah Day at Site Gallery, entitled 
Of All Possible Things
, 2 March - 7 April 2012. Jeremiah Day is one of five artists commissioned by If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want to be Part of Your Revolution, to make a new work as part of Edition IV – Affect (2010-2012). In Jeremiah Day’s work questions of site and historical memory are explored through fractured narratives, employing photography, speech, and improvisational movement. 

Week 1: Intensities and Shimmers
The first reading group will take place on 23 Feb, with two texts by Brian MassumiThe Autonomy of Affect, available here and Concrete is as Concrete Doesn't available hereThere will also be reference to the introduction chapter ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ from The Affect Theory Reader, (ed.) Melissa Greg and Gregory J. Seigworth, Duke University Press, 2010. 

Brief overview the first session: 
The first session of the Affect reading group operated in introductory terms, sketching out a broad conceptual context through which to consider the notion of affect. This reading group purposefully advocates different intensities and durations of engagement with the reading material – asserting the value of glimpsing or skimming (or even electing to not read) alongside more conventional close reading methods. Emphasis was placed on the critical function of performing tangents, asides and anecdotes within the event of reading – where an encounter with a given text operates as a point of departure, provoking or triggering unexpected lines of flight, associations and connections. Coming together as a diverse group of artists and researchers from different backgrounds, it felt necessary to acknowledge the importance of these different perspectives and approaches – where the reading group was framed as a site for working with and through ideas, for sharing points of resonance, for producing dialogue through partial and subjective readings rather than striving for clarity of understanding, for fixing and defining the meaning of terms encountered.

The text ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ provided a useful ‘way in’ for many of us, presenting a vocabulary (if at times florid, abundant) for thinking about affect as a force of encounter, a gradient of intensity, the felt and yet untranslatable experience of a body’s capacity to both affect and be affected. “How to begin when, after all, there is no pure or somehow originary state for affect? Affect arises in the midst of in-between-ness: in the capacities to act and be acted upon. Affect is an impingement or extrusion of a momentary or sometimes more sustained state of relation as well as the passage (and the duration of passage) of forces or intensities. That is, affect is found in those intensities that pas body to body (human, non-human, part-body, and otherwise), in those resonances that circulate about, between, and sometimes stick to bodies and worlds, and in the very passages or variations between these intensities and resonances themselves. Affect, at its most anthropomorphic, is the name we give to those forces – visceral forces beneath, alongside or generally other than conscious knowing, vital forces insisting beyond emotion – that can serve to drive us toward movement, toward thought and extension, that can likewise suspend us … across a barely registering accretion of force relations, or that can even leave us overwhelmed be the world’s apparent intractability. Indeed, affect is persistent proof of a body’s never less than ongoing immersion in and among the world’s obstinacies and rhythms, its refusal as much as its invitations', Melissa Greg and Gregory J. Seigworth, p.1

Drawing on the work of Spinoza, affect can be considered as potential, ‘a body’s capacity to affect and be affected’. Central to our discussions, emerged the question of how a body moves from the condition of being affected towards developing their capacity to affect, from being blown about by affective forces (of which they have no control or understanding) towards harnessing such forces to cultivate an ethical and political approach to daily life. “How does a body marked by its duration by these various encounters with mixed forces, come to shift its affections (its being-affected) into action (capacity to act)?” Melissa Greg and Gregory J. Seigworth, p.2