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.

The Shimmering of the Tipping Point

During October and November I was involved in researching and producing a series of pieces of new writing in dialogue with Katie Davies, who was undertaking an artistic residency at Sheffield Town Hall and Persistence Works. Katie Davies' practice investigates manifestations of language, the timing of comedy, and the spectacle of ceremony. For the residency she has proposed to develop a film work that looks at the performative dynamics and procedures based within the meeting rooms, function rooms and Council Chambers. The work will explore conventions of protocol within official, ceremonial and social behaviour that takes place within the Town Hall and will aim to explore the choreography of institutional conventions through the visual language of film. More about Katie's work can be found here

My essay The Shimmering of the Tipping Point explores how Davies' work often explores and attempts to capture the 'shimmer of a tipping point' (the point at which things oscillate or waver), by focusing on the nature of the ambiguous threshold zone between one state and another, or on spaces that are somehow liminal or transitional. An extract can be read below.

"In sociological terms, a ‘tipping point’ describes the moment of a critical turn, the unstoppable momentum of an emergent trend, the accumulation of innumerable minor factors resulting in some form of major – often epidemic or catastrophic – transformation. It is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back; the moment of recognition or realisation that prompts the declaration that enough is enough, that things have gone too far. It can be imagined as the invisible boundary scoring the limits of a particular belief system or moral code, which once breached might force the individual or collective to rise up and make a stand. It has been used to signal the point at which the metaphorical tide turns, the irreversible passing of the point of no return. Here, the tipping point designates a line of separation that distinguishes between the events of the past and a future way of being; it is the threshold where one thing suddenly slips into or becomes something else. However, tipping points can also be experienced at an individual level as those daily yet often imperceptible shifts and transformations that form part of the fabric of lived life. The term can be used to describe the moment at which a decision is made or an opinion changed; or the threshold crossed when you realise that you are no longer a child. In these terms, the tipping point is not experienced in the same tenor as that of the sociological model - as a clear or abrupt cut between one state and another – but can be understood instead as a pivot about which things turn; as a gesture of tilting that sets in motion. It is that which creates the interstice between one thing and something else; an interval of reflection that momentarily holds two or more possibilities in the balance where they remain equally present. Here then, the tipping point inevitably produces a zone of potentiality or ambiguity, a period of instability and indecision before a definitive choice has been made or a fixed stance taken. This is the shimmering of the tipping point, the point at which things begin to waver". 

Extract from the essay 'The Shimmering of the Tipping Point", which will be published by Yorkshire Arts Space.