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.

New writing: The Work of the Work and When the Work Works



My extended essay 'The Work of the Work and When the Work Works' is published in Four Hundred and Twenty-nine Significant Moments: Documenting an Artist’s Research and Processes by artist Lisa Watts, designed by DUST, Sheffield. My essay evolved through creative prose in response to encountering Lisa's work over a series of iterations as it developed from the project Skittish (witnessed at Vane, Newcastle; The Tetley, Leeds, to Not a Decorator… (witnessed at SIA, Sheffield; Castlefield Gallery, Manchester).

Extract from  'The Work of the Work and When the Work Works': "Some things are named according to the specific task, role or function that they are usually identified to perform. Here, naming defines the parameters of expectation and convention, pronouncing and privileging a single designated identity or activity to the exclusion or marginalisation of all others. Definition thus involves the cut of decision, settling the boundaries and limits through which things are both known and knowable. Now, imagine the task or challenge — this could be conceived as an instruction or score, a spell or incantation. Let things be released from their habitual duties and designations; let them become free of name, more than language ordinarily allows. Ritual emancipation, re-wilding the domestic — liberated, let everyday things surprise in their potential. Repurpose without purpose: let things enter unexpected relations, initiate new alliances and confederations — edges between dissolve as nascent action-assemblages emerge. Yet, what to call this practice of transformation through material play — artistic (Is this sculptural or performance?) or alchemical (Is this the science of invention, speculative philosophy or magic?) The categories of naming are already becoming protean, porous; disciplinary demarcations begin to collapse or blur. Find ways for notating and sharing this process of slippery transformation — yet be wary, for words can easily fix and stabilise that which is in motion, mutable or inconstant. Attend to the moments of decision-making, of minor revelation and deviation, of epiphany and failure. Yet take care, for in privileging one decision or observation, a myriad other options fall away inescapably, forever forgotten or forgone. Engage language lightly, for it too suffers the strictures of its own systems of definition and denomination, yet has the potential too for liberation, for also running wild. Still, be patient, since transformation will not be hurried, does not often come with haste. Transformation’s arc has many phases — witness as preparation tilts gently towards play, experiment edges towards invention. First — setting up the conditions: towards letting go, loosening the bonds of recognition and utility. Pre-formance — notice the doing that precedes doing, what must be done before play is begun."

About the publication: Hundred and Twenty-nine Significant Moments: Documenting an Artist’s Research and Processes maps the artistic processes over a nine month period of the making of the art work Not a Decorator… by Lisa Watts 2017.  It does this through the artist's use of Studio Activity Sheets SASs and two essays by writers Emma Cocker and Sarah Gorman who watched the art develop. It is also introduced with a transcription of a conversation between Lisa Watts and Rebecca Fortnum. This book is unique in revealing a close-up, chronological view of the formation of a specific artwork from the perspective of the artist. The research in this book encourages other disciplines, both within the arts and outside, to understand the aspects of an artist’s practice, as it unwraps artistic processes and their documentation for trans-interdisciplinary research. An edition of 100 printed books. £20. Please email lisa.karen.watts@gmail.com if you would like a copy.

Research Pavilion, Venice 2019


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I have been invited to be part of the forthcoming Research Pavilion in the context of the Venice Biennale 2019, as part of a research ‘cell’ developed by Alex Arteaga entitled Through Phenomena Themselves: Exploring new possibilities of mutual enhancement between artistic and phenomenological research practices.

About the Research Pavilion
The Research Pavilion is an ongoing project created and hosted by the University of the Arts Helsinki. Research Pavilion #3 is created in cooperation with the Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation and international partner institutions: Aalto University, Valand Academy of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, University of Applied Arts Vienna, and Interlab Hongik University Seoul.

Research Pavilion #3 is a meeting place, a catalyst of emerging co-operations, and a generator of new artistic thinking. It brings together a multitude of topical practices of artistic research in a jointly agreed form. The participating researchers – operating in six different research cells – will display various modes of creative thinking in parallel processes of exhibiting, performing, exposing, discussing, and articulating material encounters and related forms of critical reflection. Working from such multifaceted attitudes and atmospheres, Research Pavilion #3 is clearly impelled by the debate on current predicaments in our so-called posthuman era. Those predicaments involve the state of the ecological disequilibrium, the relational approach to forms of agency, the development of trans-disciplinary and transversal discourses, and last but not least the exploration of novel practices of criticism and narrativity in neo-materialistic propositions.

Spurred on by a general ecologization of thinking, Research Pavilion #3 will set the agenda for ethicopolitical statements on the level of shared practices. In our current decade, we suffer from a loss of common orientation, a common world, a common planet if you will. We have to think again about the world, since we desperately need another system of coordinates, another distribution of metaphors and sensitivities, as well as novel fictions and imaginaries to address configurations of the present and to restate speculations about directions in the future. The above observations challenge artistic research to articulate idiosyncratic modes of representation and reflection addressing the present global environmental crisis while taking historical responsibilities into account and creating provoking interconnections between research practices and their environments – in short: to articulate research ecologies. When the two concepts of research and ecology are linked – or rather, placed as two focal points in an ellipse – their contours and conditions could become decisive for the current state and direction of the artistic research discourse. Research Pavilion #3 not only calls attention to urgent ecological themes, but also explicitly claims a particular role for artistic research in dealing with the topical and pressing issues outlined above. Research Pavilion #3 deploys the ways of questioning and working specific to artistic research as well as its particular ecologies of practice. Therefore, it takes the form of a process-oriented Lab for testing and negotiating topical forms of material and social agency.

The Research Pavilion is an ongoing project created and hosted by Uniarts Helsinki. Research Pavilion #3 is created in cooperation with the Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation and international partner institutions. The main partners are Aalto University, Valand Academy of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Interlab Hongik University Seoul, and Taipei National University of the Arts.

Research cells and Switchboard
The Research Pavilion #3 project proceeds towards the high season in Venice through a series of research cell assemblies in September 2018, November 2018, and February 2019. A group of international experts – Esa Kirkkopelto, Sunjung Kim, Ellen J Røed, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger and Giaco Schiesser – have been invited to facilitate this self-reflective and collaborative process. Due to its decisive role in articulating interconnections between the Research Cells, this group of experts is called the Switchboard.

Research cells in the Research Pavilion project
Astopia
Cemetry Archipelago: On the imaginaries of human and non-human death
Disruptive Processes + Artistic Intelligence Research Alternator AIRA
Shelters
Territories :: Dialects
Through Phenomena Themselves: Exploring new possibilities of mutual enhancement between artistic and phenomenological research practices
Traces from the Anthropocene: Working with Soil & Insects among Us

Read more at www.researchpavilion.fi

Lecture and Workshop: Being in the Midst




Emma Cocker, Score Propositions
(Experimental Reading) from No Telos, Venice, 2017
Original photograph: Elle Reynolds

Between 29 - 31 October I will be giving a lecture and leading a 2-day workshop called Being in the Midst: Per-forming Thinking-in-Action, the Kunst Musikk Design Faculty of Arts [kmd] in Bergen, Norway.
Drawing on recent projects, I propose to explore different artistic practices and approaches that are reflexively alert and attentive to the live circumstances – or occasionality - of their own processual production: the thinking-in-action, the kairos of decision-making, the moments of knowing and of not knowing, the navigation of competing forces, of working with and through obstacles or of figuring something out.