Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University. Emma's research focuses on artistic processes and practices, and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ therein. Her practice unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches, alongside a mode of ‘contiguous writing’ — a way of writing-with that seeks to touch upon rather than being explicitly about. Her writing is 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, 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and the solo collection, The Yes of the No, 2016.

Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art

I have been invited to write an extended essay for the forthcoming publication, ‘Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art’ that is contracted with I. B. Tauris for publication in 2011. The publication is the second in a series of books that began with Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art (2007), and is edited by Phil Sawdon and Russell Marshall (TRACEY – Loughborough University). Whilst, Drawing Now focused on what drawing can be (what it might encompass in more abstract or conceptual ways, by demonstrating the contemporary use of the relatively traditional materials associated with drawing), Hyperdrawing intends to extend into the use of other materials including time, space and sound to challenge the assumptions of what drawing is or might be. The prefix ‘hyper’ qualifies something as being 'over', 'above', 'beyond' and usually implying 'excess' or 'exaggeration' or 'more than normal'. This publication will consider aspects of drawing that exceed predictable expectations of what drawing might be - conceptually, visually and as importantly technologically.                                               
Image: Tim Knowles, Wind Walk

Below is an outline of my proposed essay

The Restless Line

This essay approaches the concept of ‘hyperdrawing’ as a particular species of hyperactivity or restlessness, a ceaselessly unfolding or agitated practice that appears reluctant to be wholly stilled or settled, that instead remains perpetually unfinished, unresolved, ‘eternally incomplete’ (Dexter, 2005). Restlessness describes an acutely sensed comprehension of the infinite and immeasurable permutations or possibilities within a given situation, signaling a refusal or indeed failure to commit to any singular or distinct path of action or system of thought. Seemingly non-committal, restlessness is nonetheless a commitment to the promise of potentiality, a desire for things to remain undecided or open-ended, to not be too quickly closed down. By persistently attempting to resist or remain beyond the grasp of various systems of capture or measure, restlessness emerges as a critical method intent on preventing complex (human) experiences from becoming reduced to any single or stable position, from being fixed or simplified. In this essay, I want to explore how the act of drawing corresponds to or encapsulates a particular restless state or sensibility, that can in turn be seen as indicative of an emergent form of critical subjectivity or subject-hood, the point where a body becomes activated or animated by nascent thought. In these terms, drawing can be understood to operate in an analogous way to thoughtnot to pure intelligibility or rational reasoning, but rather to the more uncertain and inchoate space-time of thinking itself; to deliberation, to a state of critical human self-consciousness. The essay will approach the concept of hyperdrawing by elaborating on how restlessness can be considered as a critical and potentially dissident practice that finds a specific form (or rather ‘form-giving’ force) within the act of drawing. In some senses, the essay proposes to embrace restlessness as part of its own methodology – where the work of various artists provide points of provocation or interlocution prompting and indeed enabling a meandering conceptualization of ‘the restlessness of the line drawing’ to emerge.

In the first instance, I propose to explore the connection between restlessness and forms of physical wandering, and the relation to drawing therein. Within certain art practices, the act of drawing performs the role of both follower and followed, having the capacity to simultaneously lead and trace the errant trajectory of the artist’s body. Here, drawing might correspond to an event having already taken place in the past, to one that is happening (live) in the present or in anticipation of some future moment yet to come. The drawn line has the capacity to function as both itinerary and residue, as instruction and evidential record. The line might be used as a proposition that promises towards some future event or performance, as the primary event of the drawn line is repeated, followed or used as a score for a second inscription, where the entire body of the artist replaces the moving pencil’s point, its graphic mark becoming a life lived out in three-dimensional space. Alternatively, the moving body of the artist can be seen in more analogous terms, where their restless movements become drawings performed in time and space beyond the realm of the blank page, scoring the surface of more expansive terrains, carving invisible lines across the ground of a specific landscape or location. Or else, drawing becomes used to capture the ephemeral act of wandering itself – in fleeting scenes unfolding and then disappearing before they have begun to fully form, of faltering footfall rendered palpable as a quivering scribble or GPS line. In these terms, the restless line is conceived perhaps as an endlessly unraveling trajectory, active and always in motion, ad infinitum – akin to the trace left in the wake of a rolling stone.

However, restlessness might also be conceptualized as a state of oscillation or vacillation, no longer describing the unfettered meanderings of a nomadic line moving ever forward, but rather its ricochet between various points or positions, an endless performance back and forth, to and fro. The drawn line emerges somewhere between hand and eye, observation and imagination, imitation and invention, between internal and external forces or pressures, somewhere between self and the world. Drawing involves a mode of attendance or attention to these different and often competing forces; moreover, an intuition for knowing when to yield and for recognizing when to assert control. Our own experience of being in the world can equally be thought of in terms of these interrelations and co-dependencies. Drawing then, articulates the subject’s capacity for affecting and of being affected by other things, in turn evidencing the very contingent nature of subjectivity itself. The experience of the subject and also of drawing emerges as a consequence of a social encounter or interaction with. The oscillation or vacillation between different positions (of responding to and indeed producing different pushes and pulls) creates the dynamic of movement that operates as a form of desirable friction, wearing or worrying a gap or interval between the terms of one thing and another. By endlessly moving between, drawing attempts to leave or indeed make space, creating germinal conditions within which something else something new or unexpected might emerge, exceeding the terms of what is already known. Here then, hyperdrawing describes a practice of endless oscillation, a restless line intent on producing the possibility of the unexpected, unanticipated or hitherto unknown; that which is somehow hyper  ‘more than normal’, ‘in excess of’, ‘over’ and ‘above’ what could have been conceived or planned for in advance. Hyperdrawing is thus a practice performed along the limits of the comprehensible or sensible; it is that which (by its nature) attempts to resist or exceed existing definitions or expectations.


Restlessness as method

I am in the process of developing a series of new pieces of writing which further explore the idea of restlessness as a critical practice or even as a form of method, within which the quotes below operate as two points of reference, of departure and also of return.
“Contradictory words seem a little crazy to the logic of reason, and inaudible for him who listens with readymade grids, a code prepared in advance. In her statements she retouches herself constantly. She just barely separates from herself some chatter, an exclamation, a half secret – a sentence left in suspense – When she returns to it – it is only to set out again from another point of pleasure or pain. One must listen to her differently in order to hear an ‘other meaning’ which is constantly in the process of weaving itself, at the same time ceaselessly embracing words and yet casting them off to avoid being fixed, immobilized. For when she says something it is already no longer identical to what she means. Moreover, her statements are never identical to anything. Their distinguishing feature is one of contiguity. They touch (upon). And when they wander too far from this nearness, she stops and begins again from zero” - Luce Irigaray, ‘This Sex Which is Not One’, in New French Feminisms, eds. Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, (University of Massachusetts Press, 1980), p.103. Originally published as Ce sexe qui n’en est pas un (Minuit, 1977)
“There are intangible things but the moment we name them, their meaning disappears or melts like jellyfish in the sun" - partially remembered quote from Tarkovsky's  film Stalker

Laying the Bounds

I have been commissioned to produce a piece of writing in response to 'Laying the Bounds' a new work by Helen de Main as part of the northcabin project. The writing was commissioned by the Interface – new critical writing bursary scheme.  In this text, I have attempted to explore how ‘preoccupation’ might function as a mode of site-specificity. An excerpt from the text follows, whilst the full version will be available soon on the Interface website.                                                                                                           
Text Excerpt                                                                                                                                           

“[…] Preoccupation is a dysfunctional state of absorption or immersion, of being wholly wrapped up in something or someone to the exclusion of all else. Curiously, preoccupation does not designate a time prior to or in advance of the act of occupation as such nor the state of being unoccupied, but rather points to a specific and even illicit ‘type’ of occupation that insinuates itself before more legitimate or productive forms have taken hold. Preoccupation is the act of occupying oneself or one’s time – more often non-productively – in a way that is heightened or transformed to the level of a haunting or obsession. It is an improper, all consuming form of occupation that distracts from or prevents other seemingly more useful or permissible kinds of activity from taking place. Herein perhaps, lies its radical or dissident potential.

Whilst some site-specific projects emerge from a particular artist or curator’s preoccupation with a specific site or space, de Main’s approach to north cabin inverted this relation by attempting to preoccupy the site instead. For de Main then, preoccupation emerges as a specific critical and political form of site-specificity. Whilst preoccupation describes a state of mental absorption, it can also mean the physical act of occupying or taking possession of something before someone else. The cuckoo harnesses the potential of this double meaning, attempting to preoccupy both their host’s attention and the physical space within their nest. Like the cuckoo, de Main’s inhabitation of north cabin excluded the possibility of other forms of occupation. Akin to the dissenting squatter, the artist’s attempt to preoccupy the site is a resistant tactic for preventing it from other uses. To preoccupy a site is to distract it from its designated or intended purpose or function; it is to divert its attention or set it to a different tack. For de Main, to inhabit north cabin with a structure that precluded other usage was a way of preventing the site from the insensitive regeneration that so many of its neighbouring buildings had been subjected to. The cabin is suspended between times. It is no longer required to perform the utilitarian function for which it was originally designed, but has not yet been designated a new role or purpose. Here, redundancy produces a creative hiatus or pause, a space in which to conceive things otherwise before a new use or function has been fully determined […]”


Further information (press release)

Laying the Bounds

Helen de Main 
(30th August – 20th September 2009)

Helen de Main’s new work continues the artist’s interest in exploring interior and exterior spaces and attempting to blur traditional borders. The work, which will consist of a metal structure, made of panels bolted together and then treated with a number of finishes, will reference the urban landscape that surrounds the cabin. Textures and layers of colour will be built up and then sanded back creating a multitude of visual associations. The structure will conceal the 360-degree windows of the cabin, which are a prominent feature of the space. Building on this characteristic, the work will incorporate vents, inspired by grates and speakers similar to those observed in public spaces, which will then be light from within. These vents will offer a potential glimpse or entrance into the cabin for the viewer, drawing their eye inward, yet any visibility into the full interior of the space will be obscured.

Helen de Main’s new work will build on both the site of the cabin as a prominent position within the city and will comment on the current regeneration climate. By encasing the cabin from within, the artist will demonstrate the different ways in which existing buildings are re-developed and come to contain distinct other forms. The work will create a second space inside the cabin with a contrasting set of references, creating a tension between the two structural forms and will challenge perceived hierarchies between architectural structures.

northcabin is a temporary commissioning programme taking place in a disused operating cabin on Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol. northcabin commissions emerging artists to produce unique and ambitious artworks for the public realm.





Above: text work exploring 'journeys' as part of Writing Live.

I have been invited to be involved in the project, Writing Live.

Writing Live is a trans-Atlantic contemporary critical writing programme developed by Open Dialogues, Performa09 and the Space Between Words. The programme launches in New York during Performa 09 and moves to the UK in 2010.

Writing Live is an equal community of peers who understand the importance of intergenerational dialogue, artist communities, collaborative process and unknown product

Writing Live questions:

* What is the future of experimental critical writing and how is it being informed by its past?

* How might the practices of different generations – from avant-garde pioneers to recent graduates – be brought into contact?

* How might live/visual/textual practitioners, artist scholars experimenting with writing’s forms, and artists working with text come together?

Below is a response to my proposition/instruction from New York based writer/artist Rebecca Armstrong.

From A – B.  Or here – there. (response to Emma Cocker)


First difficulty:  I am: 1. either lost or 2. off the map.  These being equivalent. 


And then: With my eyes closed I am hazard, I am rude, I am white girl in the way.  Better to move through, here, if there is here, better to move on.  This city street floods, founders.  I fly through it.  I don’t topple.  The man who is always there is always there.  When he is not there, his clothes sit empty, holding his place. 


The same street a different morning.  Moving.  The same face, the same hat, the same corner, fly by.  Is it still a stranger if you see it every day?  In a crowd on a different corner would you be able to return that face to this place?  Yes or no?  This means: home or away.


The difficulty is, as usual, death.


I have lived in places where it was possible: to close your eyes, to go by feel.  This is not that place.  (Now we have established A, B.)  First, another country, without street names.  Then, this country’s past.  Then, the days of blindfolds and long afternoons, alleyways.  Were you leading or being led?  The dream of a bicycle.  The dream of a skinned knee.


The possibility of a return journey.


Arts in Society conference, Sydney

OpenCity's proposal for a workshop has been accepted as part of the Arts in Society conference which will take place in Sydney Australia in July, 2010.

OpenCity: Performing Community

Led by artist-project OpenCity, this workshop presentation investigates the critical/creative potential of collective action within public performance, through dialogic exchange between practice-based enquiry and theoretical/philosophical ideas around collectivity/subjectivity/participation. Within this workshop, delegates are invited to collaborate with OpenCity in a live investigation of the critical/creative potential of collective action within public performance. OpenCity (Andrew Brown/Emma Cocker/Katie Doubleday) is a practice-led project that explores how public space and its societies are conceptualized/organized through interrogating how daily actions/behaviours are conditioned/controlled. OpenCity will reflexively present/contextualize their recent research activity, before working collaboratively with delegates to investigate how collective performance might intervene in the public sphere through the production/creation of ‘counter-publics’; new social formations for rehearsing or testing alternativeethical/political/criticalforms of citizenship/subjectivity. According to Michel Foucault, subjectivity/subjectivization involves a process or practice, a critical operation that must be activated on a daily or life-long basis. Architectural theorists Arakawa+Gins similarly suggest that personhood/subjectivity is not a guaranteed property of human existence rather it requires nurturing: ‘to person’ is a verb; it has to be performed. Whilst such philosophical opinion perceives subjectivity as a contingent state of being which is actively and critically enacted by the individual, this ‘project’ or endeavour has become evermore difficult to realize, as a consequence of the increasingly legislated, controlled or homogenized templatesof society/citizenshipwithin which contemporary existence is expected to operate. OpenCity’s research examines the capacity of performance as a ‘tactic’ for refusing, resisting or circumnavigating the negative processes of societal normalization/homogeneity, through the development of active strategies for increasing/augmenting an individual’s affective capacity, their potential for becoming an ‘organism that persons’ (Arakawa+Gins). OpenCity will put theory/research into practice through a participatory workshop that interactively questions how collective action might augment an individual’s capacity to act or be affective. Through a synchronized/choreographed performance involving ipod technologies, the workshop will interrogate/explore how an individual’s decision-making process within participatory/collective performance might also increase critical decision-making at a societal level, in relation to wider social rules, instructions or expectations.


Conference background

The annual International Conference on the Arts in Society (the Arts Conference), The International Journal of the Arts in Society (the Arts Journal), and the Arts in Society Book Imprint and News Blog create fora for discussion and publication of innovative theories, practices and critical commentaries in the arts. The Arts Conference, Journal, Book Imprint and News Blog acknowledge the need for critical discussion on issues in the arts, and specifically as they are situated in everyday life, culture, economics and politics. Linked to critical cultural discourse, creative acts of engagement are called for that respond to the needs of our times. What is called for is no less than ‘free speech zones’, which have become ever more pressing in present-day contexts of globalisation, and its social, economic and political artefacts of cultural homogenisation and commodification. More information here








I have been commissioned to produce an essay on the work of FrenchMottershead for a forthcoming publication linked to their recent residency and exhibition at Site Gallery, Shops. Artists Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead have been travelling to Brazil, China, Turkey, Romania, Slovenia and back to Sheffield to engage with a wide range of communities and audiences as part of their Shops project. The Shops project invites owners and their customers to become involved in an artwork through the process of participation and exchange.

Image: FrenchMottershead, Dusanka Sulejmalli, Laura, Ljubljana, 2009

The book will feature essays that have been commissioned in association with the Shops project in each of the countries, and will include local writers, journalists and critics; an essay by Peter Jackson from University of Sheffield which will give the perspective from his research as a social/human geographer, and a piece by Tim Etchells linking to the project they will be working on in Sheffield. The essay will enable me to potentially interrogate some of the ideas that have been emerging in relation to an AHRC application (currently in development) which explores ideas of 'invented' or temporary community (Kwon,2004&Turner); the blur or slippage that occurs between individual and the collective or community experience, as well as ideas around participation and collectivity within ritualized (everyday) performance.

Liminal Landscapes


My paper Exit Strategies – Beating the (invisible) Boundary has been accepted as part of the 
Liminal Landscapes symposium which is going to take place at Liverpool John Moores University
 1st July 2010. The paper develops some of the ideas I have been exploring in previous symposia (including PSi Interregnum, 2008 and Living Landscapes, 2009) around certain artists' inhabitation of the 'liminal landscapes' emerging at the interstice of physical and virtual worlds.  
In particular I am proposing to further explore the work of Kayle Brandon and Heath Bunting, for whom the navigation of space–physical and/or virtual–becomes inherently bound up with the navigation of subjectivity and questions of social identity. Within their practice the liminal landscape becomes the location or terrain within which (and according to whose terms) the formulation of the self and one’s place in the world becomes mapped out and defined; or else might be navigated differently to dominant ideological expectations. 


Background to conference

Ideas and concepts of liminality have long shaped debates around the uses and practices of space in tourism. Victor Turner’s writings on ritual and communitas, Graburn’s theory of tourism as a sacred journey, or Shield’s discussion of ‘places on the margin’ have secured a well-established foothold in the theoretical landscapes of travel and mobility. The unique qualities of liminal landscapes, as developed by these and other writers on the subject, are generally held to be those which play host to ideas of the ludic, consumption, carnivalesque, inversion or suspension of normative social and moral structures of everyday life, deterritorialisation and ‘becoming’, and so on. While these arguments and tropes remain pertinent, and their metaphorical appeal evermore attractive, the extent to which these spaces provoke counter ideas of social control, terror, surveillance, production and territorialisation, invites an urgent call to re-evaluate the meanings attached to ideas of the ‘liminal’ in tourism studies. The shifting social geographies associated with these landscapes has meant that the example of the beach may equally be looked upon as a space of transnational labour, migrancy, racial tension, death, fear, uncertainty and disorientation. In addition, the appropriation of liminal landscapes by, for example, local authorities, commercial bodies and marketeers constructs an increasingly mediated or textualised space of performance that re-fashions the embodied (and embedded) spaces as lived by those who make up their diverse social fabric.


The Semiotics of Shipwreck

My paper abstract 'Not Yet There: Shipwreck as Suspended Potentiality' has been accepted as part of the forthcoming conference, 'The Semiotics of Shipwreck:
 A Symposium on the Representation and Resonance of Maritime Disaster' which will take place at the National Maritime Museum, London (19th-20th November, 2010

Image: Bas Jan Ader: In Search of the Miraculous

Abstract excerpts:

"This paper will examine the resonance of the shipwreck motif within selected visual art practices since the 1960s by reflecting speculatively upon how it has been reclaimed from the vaults of Romanticism and reinvested with critical significance within a conceptual lexicon ... Here, the shipwreck motif serves to articulate/represent the suspended potentiality of the ‘irresolvable or unresolved quest’; teleological imperative forever poised at the point of non-attainment or anticipation, a disrupted narrative in which closure or completion is indefinitely deferred. The shipwreck belongs to the borderlands; like the ruin it has a liminal status where it remains ‘no longer and not yet’. It is also a curiously ambivalent anti-monument – a contradictory or inconsistent signifier. Shipwrecks possess the complex aporetic properties of an adventurer’s deflated dreams, functioning both as evidence of endeavour/resignation; hope/failure; possibility/impossibility; the trace or remainder of something now absent, the paradoxical visualization – like the phantom – of a disappearance or of loss. The paper thus shifts from ‘locating’ interest in the shipwreck motif within the context of Romantic Conceptualism, towards attempting to posit that it is its dislocated or unstable conceptual properties that form part of its ongoing fascination for artists" 

Context: Background to the conference

Ever since human beings first began seafaring, they have been fascinated, and haunted, by shipwrecks. For maritime societies especially, these tragedies at sea have been a constant source of anxiety, since they are disasters that potentially devastate not only individuals but also the community or nation as a whole. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that shipwreck is also one of the oldest motifs in art and literature. It can be traced as far back as the second millennium BCE, when a fragmentary Egyptian papyrus tells of a sailor shipwrecked on an island that is home to a giant snake. Thereafter it becomes a key topos in the romance genre, from Heliodorus to Shakespeare and beyond, and recurs frequently in poetry, from Homer's Odyssey and Horace's Odes through to Byron's Don Juan and Hopkins's 'The Wreck of the Deutschland'. It has a Biblical presence, for example in the account of St Paul's shipwreck. In painting, meanwhile, shipwreck and its aftermath have been taken up by artists ranging from Vernet and Gericault to Sydney Nolan. And the shipwreck scenario may fairly (if a little paradoxically) be said to have launched the modern novel, in English at least: shipwrecks are of course central to both Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Swift's Gulliver's Travels. This fascination with the shipwreck scenario continues right down to the present day, notwithstanding the fact that shipwrecks are today much more infrequent than they were in the past ... Over the years, accounts and metaphors of shipwreck have taken diverse forms and served various purposes; the iconicity that attaches to the shipwreck motif has also varied significantly across time and between different cultures. Thus in some forms it is fused with Protestant traditions of spiritual autobiography, and comes to denote a cataclysmic, transformative event in the life of an individual. In others, meanwhile, the topos is informed by Horace's famous metaphor of the ship of state, and becomes associated with an act of collective memorialization and mourning. The aim of this symposium is to explore the shifting and multiple semiotics of shipwreck; to trace the evolution of the shipwreck motif over time and across different cultures; and to trace the circulation of accounts and representations of specific shipwrecks (eg the Titanic, the Grosvenor and so forth) through culture.

The Yes of the No!

My text, The Yes of the No!, was launched on 9th October at Plan 9 as part of their final event marking the closure of The Summer of Dissent. The text is the culmination of a writing residency undertaken during the Summer in Bristol in conjunction with the Summer of Dissent. Drawing on my discussions with artists involved in the programme, alongside my experiences of participating in many of the events (from witnessing Debord's Game of War to crafting a bow and arrow in the woods with Girl Gang), the text provides a framework and overview of the themes, concerns and issues raised by the Summer of Dissent and its participants. I hope to reflect on the value of the 'thinking space' provided by this kind of residency model in relation to my practice as an art-writer in a forthcoming article for a-n (as one of their commissions on critical writing).

The text is structured around the following chapter headings:
The Yes of the No!
First “Steps towards dancing solo”
Second “Becoming the cause”
Third If everything has been done, then what is left?”
Fourth Prepare for the unexpected”
Fifth “Make do”
Sixth “Know your limits”
Seventh “Embody knowledge”
Eighth “Fall beneath the radar”
Ninth “Am I bothered?”
Tenth “Going overboard”
Eleventh “Being in two minds”
Twelfth Without rhyme or reason”
Thirteenth “Bide your time”
Fourteenth “Opting in”
Fifteenth Hope springs eternal”

Below are a series of images of the publication:


Image: Pete McPartlan - Readers Block(s)- Mapping Misunderstanding(s)
 from the publication, An Assembling. ed. David Berridge

As part of the Essaying Essays project, I am including a new text work as part of the first publication from this project, ESSAYING ESSAYS: AN ASSEMBLING No.1.
Now available for free PDF download, featuring experiments in essaying from:
 David Berridge; Rachel Lois Clapham; Emma Cocker; Alex Eisenberg; Fiona Fullam; Alex Hardy; √Čilis Kirby; Jenny Lawson; Patricia Lyons; Pete McPartian; John Pinder.
Assembled by David Berridge as part of ESSAYING ESSAYS: A TEMPORARY COLLECTIVE OF READERS, one of seven projects by the FREE PRESS collective exploring economies of ideas and alternative modes of dissemination and exchange.

Download your copy here

ASSEMBLING adopts another project by Richard Kostelanetz in the 1970's. Invited contributors submitted multiple copies of their contributions, which Kostelanetz then assembled and distributed. ASSEMBLING is an experiment in temporary collective publishing, exploring relations of writing, publishing and print and online distribution. ASSEMBLING is published under the CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE. The work (see below) takes the idea of 'essaying' as a trial or endeavour in order to compile a  list of impossible, improbable, abstract or absurd quests and searches. Each entry is a 'found quest' having been obtained from searching the British library database for publications containing the words 'in search of... ' and then attempting to edit or remove any real sense of teleological or measurable outcome. Drawing together the factual and fictional, the searches in the list operate at the point where ‘legitimate research activity’ collapses into the quest for rather more indefinable or speculative (or alternatively Romantic or even quixotic) objectives.

To try, to tentatively attempt
In search of (1) clues; (2) a new life; (3) a method; (4) quality; (5) a psychic economy; (6) the perfect stranger; (7) Enlightenment; (8) a gust of wind; (9) power and politics; (10) principles; (11) complications; (12) the dream people; (13) life on Mars; (14) a withering community; (15) love; (16) the lost; (17) the origins of life; (18) a guru; (19) animal consciousness; (20) a scapegoat; (21) God and some lesser tales; (22) mathematical truth; (23) remarkable trees; (24) silent spaces; (25) gold paved streets; (26) life on other planets; (27) the origins of art; (28) the edge of the world; (29) hospitality; (30) a permanent peace; (31) strategic performance; (32) the lost feminine; (33) the living dead; (34) Dracula; (35) a poetry of specifics, (36) thought, (37) matter and experience; (38) identity; (39) the real and right; (40) normality; (41) order in life; (42) the perfect drug; (43) wonder; (44) the true self; (45) great coffee; (46) cultural unity; (47) excellence; (48) the origins of his evil; (49) a non-dogmatic theology; (50) ghosts; (51) empirical evidence; (52) exceptionally difficult constraint satisfaction problems; (53) shelter, subjectivity and spaces of loss; (54) greatness; (55) common ground; (56) clusters; (57) an impotent man; (58) the meaning of sex; (59) madness; (60) universal values; (61) the human mind; (62) order; (63) true wisdom; (64) answers; (65) a glorious death; (66) rigour and relevance; (67) the teller of tales; (68) a symmetry bond; (69) human origins; (70) authenticity; (71) quality; (72) solutions; (73) more solutions; (74) solutions to the problem;  (75) intimacy; (76) infinity; (77) humanity; (78) a border pedagogy; (79) lotus feet; (80) a new world order; (81) the lost ladino; (82) prevention; (83) what makes us human; (84) the rules of the new games; (85) healing; (86) a better world; (87) Schr√∂dinger’s cat; (88) Schopenhauer’s cat; (89) connections; (90) happiness; (91) learning; (92) a cure; (93) the kite runner; (94) the good life; (95) flowers of the Amazon forests; (96) congruence; (97) a new state; (98) a role; (99) a past; (100) a deity; (101) liquidity; (102) an alternative; (103) meaning; (104) the hidden meaning; (105) our mothers’ gardens; (106) direction; (107) stability; (108) lake monsters; (109) ancient astronomies; (110) a new creation; (111) the melancholy baby; (112) Peter Pan; (113) the Pied Piper; (114) the secret of the universe; (115) genetic origins; (116) the precious pearl; (117) the inner man; (118) Europe’s borders; (119) the perfect house; (120) structure; (121) white crows; (123) silence; (124) the existential pathway; (125) magic; (126) integrity; (127) their conscience; (128) a script; (129) a character; (130) two characters; (131) proof of his existence; (132) the cheddar man; (133) the magic bullet; (134) text syntax; (135) light; (136) power; (137) wonder; (138) promise; (139) truth; (140) hot water; (141) the great northern diver; (142) a future; (143) a soul; (144) weather; (145) independence; (146) an authentic vision; (147) insight; (148) justice; (149) legitimacy; (150) legibility; (151) civic order; (152) a new majority; (153) control; (154) reusable rocketry; (155) human mastery; (156) an eternal identity; (157) an empire; (158) interplanetary travel; (159) world domination; (160) the earthly paradise; (161) inclusion and participation; (162) the conditions of life; (163) keystones; (164) autonomy; (165) reality; (166) self-knowledge; (167) security; (168) the secrets of sex; (169) English windmills; (170) aerodynamic stability; (171) the elements; (172) a theory; (173) the ultimate theory; (174) a new theory of cosmic origins; (175) superstrings, symmetry and the theory of everything; (176) comedy; (177) intelligence; (178) the Holy Grail; (179) autonomy, (180) democracy and development; (181) reasonableness; (182) responsibility; (183) personal fulfilment; (184) leadership; (185) ecstasy; (186) transcontextual criteria; (187) alien planets; (188) productivity growth; (189) moral authority; (190) competence; (191) balance; (192) medical certainty; (193) understanding; (194) an ultimate explanation; (195) public identity; (196) freedom; (197) authority and honour; (198) value; (199) biological origins; (200) the North West; (201) Elvis; (202) Eastern promise; (203) the pleasure palace; (204) the pleasure principle; (205) the substance of substance; (206) unity and integration; (207) the present tense; (208) a super-reality; (209) power and liberty; (210) lost knowledge; (211) comfort; (212) a populist modernism; (213) absolute zero; (214) the dream; (215) nonesuch; (216) utopia; (217) a rigorous science of philosophy; (218) a physiological signature; (219) a third way; (220) a historical movement; (221) ultimacy; (222) optimals; (223) the supreme principle; (224) individualized therapies; (225) what saves us; (226) life in the universe; (227) ancient DNA; (228) extraterrestrial intelligence; (229) a usable past; (230) modern human origins; (231) free energy; (232) new ways; (233) the essence of the west; (234) the ideal society; (235) a paradigm shift; (236) the good; (237) an ideal development model; (238) wisdom; (239) the gamma ray; (240) civility; (241) the missing science of consciousness; (242) the materiality of experience; (243) a patriarchal ideal (244) authentic words; (245) skyscrapers; (246) enemies; (247) allies; (248) a livable world; (249) who we are; (250) the missing gene; (251) endless energy; (252) healing; (253) Eve; (254) the Odyssey; (255) a unifying principle; (256) the missing mass and the ultimate fate of the universe; (257) a true self; (258) a new stability; (259) distant relatives; (260) the beginning of time; (261) substantive rules; (262) our beginning; (263) common ground; (264) practical solutions; (265) sustainable futures; (266) precursors; (267) a saint; (268) the miraculous; (269) shipwrecks; (270) vindications; (271) selective interventions; (272) the affluent reader; (273) certitude; (274) transcendence; (275) nonformal alternatives; (276) explanation and social relevance; (277) mental hygiene; (278) lost time; (279) plenty; (280) the foreign policy of the Bush administration; (281) reaction pathways; (282) a normative order; (283) the neutrino; (284) eloquence; (285) the last human cannonball; (286) failure; (287) sanity; (288) myths and heroes; (289) psychoactive drugs; (290) labour-saving inventions; (291) a cause; (292) open skies; (293) an audio-visual language; (294) non-relativistic systems with dynamical symmetry; (295) a permanent fixture; (296) the best strain of bees; (297) treasure on the desert island; (298) pastures green; (299) artificial intelligence; (300) hope, faith, and a six-second ride               

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