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.

Event: Wandering and Waiting

I will be delivering a research seminar in April, which I hope to use as a space to tease out (and talk through) some of the questions and issues that have emerged in recent work. In this seminar I propose to explore the connections and tensions between research and practice within my own work, in order to open up a discussion about the symbiotic and complex relationship between these different modes of working and thinking. The intent is use the concrete example provided by a series of recent projects (2009-10) as a context against which to provoke a conversation around ideas of method, knowledge and the dilemmas faced by the artist-researcher.  Work referred to will include my ongoing collaboration with the project Open City, and a series of art-writing projects including a recent writing residency as part of The Summer of Dissent, at Plan 9 in Bristol. The seminar will also be marked by an informal launch of RITE, a publication bringing together the work of 19 art writers that enact expanded acts of criticism, question the essay form, use language as material and attempt to work the different ways that writing can be on or about new work.

Exhibition: Essaying Essays at The Reading Room, Berlin

David Berridge’s ESSAYING ESSAYS: AN ASSEMBLING (which includes my text work 'To try, a Tentative Attempt') has been selected to be part of THE READING ROOM  project in Berlin, curated by Dominique Hurth and Ciarán Walsh 

 Emma Cocker, to try, a tentative attempt, 2010. Limited edition textwork.

Berridge’s proposal for THE READING ROOM explores how the form of the ESSAYING ESSAYS: AN ASSEMBLING publication occupied an overlapping space between print and online, magazine, exhibition and essay. For THE READING ROOM Berridge will be submitting the magazine as an unbound folio.

The Reading Room is based on former institutional “Reading Rooms” (such as the one of the British Museum in London), and functions as such: it will be open for public viewing, with those wanting to use it being required to make an appointment and also register beforehand their particular interested in the publications or project. The Reading Room takes its initial presentation location from the idea of the “Salon”, gathering its printed matters under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host. The visitors and readers of the Reading Room will ring the bell of a private apartment, climb up the stairs to it, and then be able to sit in a study room. Refreshments will be served. 

The organisers of The Reading Room will maintain a curated monthly selection of approximately 25 publications that can be seen at one time. Those will be chosen based on changing criteria, such as topics, size, colour, content, and links to each other. A monthly index will be published online. By special agreement, the remaining publications of the archive can of course be read and viewed, next to the monthly selection.

The Reading Room  is a project conceived and organised by Dominique Hurth and Ciarán Walsh. 

Performance: Re- (RITE)

Re - was a performance reading developed collaboratively by Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker, to mark the launch of the publication RITE, at PSL (Project Space Leeds) on 26 March 2010. 

Drawing on Emma Cocker's Re: Writing 1993-2009 as a point of departure, Re- is a collaborative reading where Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker repeat, rework, rewrite, reread and react, whilst responding to and relocating ideas generated from, through and in relation to RITE. The reading presses on two writers - and two writing practices- coming together, whilst focusing on the tension between the improvised and rehearsed, and on the play between the visible and invisible, or public and private states of not knowing within the performed act of writing.

The disparate fragments of documentation (below) reflect upon different elements of Re-, intimating towards the potential for further (re)iterations or versions of the work, the possibility of future (re)adings.

Documentation: Stills from the video from the performance reading Re- (2010)
Documentation: Video excerpts of the 'work' produced during the performance reading Re

   Documentation: Screen grabs from the video (detail) from the performance reading Re- 
Documentation: Video excerpts (detail) from the performance reading Re- (2010)

Documentation: 'Script/score' from the performance reading Re- (2010)

Book chapter: The Cartographical Necessity of Exile

My proposed essay 'Exit Strategies The Cartography of Escape' has been invited into the next stage of submissions for the publication, THE CARTOGRAPHICAL NECESSITY OF EXILE (ed.) Karen Elizabeth Bishop (Harvard University).

Background to the Publication.
Derek Walcott identified a cartographical necessity of exile in his 1984 collection of poetry, Midsummer, when he wrote:
So, however far you have travelled, your
steps make more holes and the mesh is multiplied –
… exiles must make their own maps
This collection will seek to understand this cartographical imperative. What is the relationship between exile – understood broadly in its most modern, splintered sense to include external and internal exile, diaspora, deterritorialization, reterritorialization, expatriation, migrants, refugees, nomads, the disappeared and the ex-disappeared – and map-making? Mapping is a certain science that enables emplacement and facilitates movement. Yet it can also be an aesthetic project that draws on a heightened awareness of space and place, memory, and historical imaginary. So what kinds of maps do exiles make? Are they private maps or maps that can be shared? How are they conceived of and how are they read? How do they provide for new ways of thinking about the experience of exile? How do authors writing in or about exile represent the doubly ontological and epistemological exercise of map-making? And how, finally, might a cartographical necessity of exile challenge how we conceive of mapping, its history and future, its function, tools, and media?

‘Drawing a Hypothesis - Figures of Research’

I have been invited to contribute an essay/hypothesis to a forthcoming publication edited by the artist Nikolaus Gansterer entitled ‘Drawing a Hypothesis - Figures of Research.

Image: Nikolaus Gansterer (from the website http://www.gansterer.org/) 

‘Drawing a Hypothesis - Figures of Research' will be
 released in Autumn in cooperation with Springer Science Publisher
 York), the Jan Van Eyck Academy and the University of Applied Art in Vienna. Essays on the topic of science, drawing and perception are combined 
in this
 book forming a fragmentary encyclopaedia of lines of thoughts.
 The publication will be released for the Frankfurt Book Fair in the Autumn.

Rubric - Document

Site-specific images taken of the series of postcard texts that I have produced in response to the work of the project, Open City, will be appearing in the next issue of the journal Rubric which focuses on the issue of 'Document'. I am currently working with Open City to produce a publication which draws together the whole series of postcard texts (1 - 10) produced throughout our collaboration.

OpenCity is an interdisciplinary art project involving artists Andrew Brown and Katie Doubleday, working in collaboration with other artists and writers including art-writer Emma Cocker. It is an investigation-led project that attempts to draw attention to how behaviour in the public realm is organized and controlled – and to what effect – whilst simultaneously exploring how such ‘rules’ – even habits – might be negotiated differently through performance-based interventions. Open City’s projects often involve inviting, instructing or working with different individuals to create participatory performances in the public realm; discrete art works that put into question or destabilize habitual patterns and conventions of public behaviour.

The Open City Postcard Series is an ongoing serialized essay written by Emma Cocker to accompany a series of instructions by Open City (on the reverse of each postcard) that invite different forms of individual and collective action in the public realm. 

Field Proposals

ART WRITING FIELD STATION was an event that took place at East Street Arts Patrick Studios, St.Mary’s Lane, Leeds, LS9 7EH, on Saturday March 27th 2010, 10am – 1pm as part of the RITE publication launch. ART WRITING FIELD STATION is an ongoing event and publications series at which practitioners present material and evidence of the “field” of art writing. The aim is both to make a field recording of the field of art writing as constituted by a set of practices, and to offer an example of that field in poetic operation. As well as individual presentations, each ART WRITING FIELD STATION produces a lexicon or live writing archive of its group discussions, which serves as a script and provocation for future events.
ART WRITING FIELD STATION at Patrick Studio’s will feature presentations of new work by David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Emma Cocker, Mary Paterson, and Nathan Walker.  

In terms of responding to the David Berridge’s proposition of Field Station’  I have attempted to map a field and propose it as a field station; the text/objects that I presented are both reflective and prospective, (like Breton’s ‘double headed-arrow') they mark the territory of what has come before but also suggest a possible future use. I wanted to propose a series of maps as a response to the idea of field: field-maps: My hope is to use these ‘field-maps’ to help me to better understand what might constitute the ‘field’ of my own practice, and the method of my own writing, which I am increasingly coming to see as a restless practice, or a practice that uses the idea of restlessness as its method. Thinking through field-station has forced me to think about ‘the field’ in terms of the architecture of my own art-writing practice, thinking about architecture as:
*  A spatial structure or model (what is its shape)
* Verb: The action or process of building (of assemblage) (how is it produced, what is it methods). Field as an act or of doing something: a sphere of activity, to put into action, a complex of forces that serve as causative agents in human behaviour.
*  Network: the way components fit together (how are connections made and re-made)

(1)   * A mapping or rhizomatic field (the network of ideas, practice, bodies – field as community). An attempt to articulate or map or chart or diagram a sense of my writing practice, which operates under the title, Not Yet There. The tension between or field created between different practices (art/encyclopedia; ‘knowing’/knowledge; the gallery/the academy).
(2)   * Field Station – what constitutes a (art-writing) studio and how can this be made portable or mobile or taken to the ‘field’. Studio as constituted by a set of practices (produced); by the physical surroundings (belongings) and by what it affords (thinking space). NB) In order to build in spaces that are more speculative you have to build in spaces that are more speculative. Mind-mapping habitually presupposes a starting point, a point of original. Here my attempt is to remove the need for a fixed or determined start, or rather to replace the propositional of the conventional starting point with the notion of a potential Macguffin.
(3)   * Open Field (as open space – thinking space)  - a template, work and tool. An imaginative proposition and an operational model. An attempt to articulate or map or chart or diagram the idea of the ‘field’ as open space, a space of thinking, a germinal terrain. Mapping the process of thinking, without this being about what that thinking is about; a mapping of a process and the producing of a map that corresponds to that process.
(4)   * An operational model: using the ‘field’ model as a device through which to explore my field of art-writing practice. A proposition of an essay as map, the essay as a network or proposed community of ideas. The field as essay.  Visual essaying (essay as rhizome). An attempt to use this open field as a device to lay down (or seed or plant) a few specific ideas. A model to be used: what is the field of this event?

* Clearing: an expanse of open or cleared ground
* Event: the area in which (field) events are held
* Space of Contestation: a battleground.
* Force/Agency: (physics) the influence of some agent, as electricity or gravitation, considered as existing at all points in space and   defined by the force it would exert on an object placed at any point in space.
* Horizon: (optics) the entire angular expanse visible through an optical instrument at a given time or (photography) the area of a subject that is taken in by a lens at a particular diaphragm opening.
* Interconnectedness: (psychology) the total complex of interdependent factors within which a psychological event occurs and is perceived as occurring.
* Record: (in a punch card) any number of columns regularly used for recording the same information
* Playing the field - to vary one's activities, a kind of promiscuous practice, "avoid commitment" – a restlessness
* Flat land – a non-hierarchical playing field
* Skilfulness: To respond to
* Incisive: the site of a surgical operation
* Classification: a data structure