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. More recently, Emma trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, interested in how a heightened awareness of the body and breath, alongside meditation and attention practices, might be integrated into art-writing, artistic practice, pedagogy and research.

Mobility and Creativity

My paper 'From Passivity to Potentiality - the Communitas of Stillness' has been accepted as part of the conference, Mobility and Creativity: Narrative, Representation and Performance, which will take place in the Department of English, University of Surrey, UK (3 July 2009 - 4 July 2009). Keynote Speakers include: Reina Lewis (London College of Fashion), John Urry (University of Lancaster) and Ginette Verstraete (Amsterdam University)

I will be presenting a paper as part of the second panel:

Panel 1 : Postcolonial Encounters

Panel 2 :  Mobility and Aesthetics

Panel 3 : Asylum and Refugees

Panel 4: Cinema of Borders

Panel 5 : Mobile methods

Panel 6 : The invisible city

Panel 7 : Creative Dis/Locations

Panel 8 : Travel Writing

Conference information:

Mobilities has increasingly become central to the analysis of social relations in contemporary society where it often appears that ‘all the world is on the move,’ from the movement of diasporas, tourists, migrants and refugees. While the emergence of this new ‘mobility paradigm’ (Sheller and Urry, 2006; Urry 2002, 2007) originated within the social sciences, this conference focuses on how such a ‘mobility turn’ has been narrated, represented and performed within the arts and humanities. The two-day international conference aims to explore creative responses to these diverse mobilities in literature, art, film, and theatre for example. How have these complex mobilities been negotiated and critiqued through creative practice? Is creativity dependent upon mobility?

The paper will extend and develop ideas from a recent essay (of the same title) which will be published in the online journal m/c (Spring 2009).

Paper abstract.
Referring to my collaboration with the artist-led project, Open City, I will investigate the (im)mobility of stillness as a creative strategy. I will explore the potential of an active and resistant – rather than passive or acquiescent – form of stillness that can be activated strategically within a performance-based practice; in turn producing conditions in which a radically dissenting – yet affirmative – model of subjectivity might be developed. Stillness is often presented as antithetical to the velocity, mobility, speed and freedom proposed by new technologies and the various accelerated modes by which we are encouraged to engage with the world. Stillness and slowness have been deemed outmoded or anachronistic forms of mobility, as fastness and efficiency have become the privileged terms. Alternatively, stillness has been reclaimed within a resistant – or at least reactive – “counter-culture” for challenging the enforced and increased pace that we are required to perform. Rather than focusing on a model of stillness based on the attempt to ‘opt out’ of the accelerated time-zones, mobilities and narratives of contemporary capitalism – the move towards a more spiritual or meditative existence by removal or denial of contemporary societal pressures – this paper will explore the potential within forms of stillness specifically produced in and by contemporary capitalism, by reflecting on how they might be (re)inhabited as sites of critical action. With reference to the writing of Gilles Deleuze – especially in relation to Spinoza’s Ethics – I want to explore how the asignifying or affective possibilities produced by the collective performance of stillness can be understood as a mode of playful resistance to or refusal of habitual social norms; additionally producing the germinal conditions for a nascent community of experience no longer bound by existing protocol, a model of “communitas” emerging from the shared act of being still.