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.

Exhibition: Re - Writing [the] Space

Writing (the) Space,  Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker at Wild Pansy Press Project Space, Leeds, including new Re- Reader designed by Marit Münzberg. More to follow soon.

Image: Re - Writing [the] Space, Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker, Wild Pansy Press Project Space, Leeds, 2011

Updates: Drawing a Hypothesis

Image: Nikolaus Gansterer

I have been invited by artist Nikolaus Ganster to present a lecture/workshop for the Department of Transmedia Arts (University of Applied Arts in Vienna) in June. The lecture will be used as a space to specifically further ideas developed as part of my essay for Gansterer’s forthcoming publication, Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Research. Whilst in Vienna, we will also be developing ideas for a performative reading, which we intend to operate in conjunction with the launch of the publication (Autumn, 2011); and ideas around a possible international research project exploring expanded drawing practices. 

More information about Drawing a Hypothesis

Drawing a Hypothesis is an exciting reader on the ontology of forms of visualizations and on the development of the diagrammatic view and its use in contemporary art, science and theory. In an intense process of exchange with artists and scientists, Nikolaus Gansterer reveals drawing as a media of research enabling the emergence of new narratives and ideas by tracing the speculative potential of diagrams. Based on a discursive analysis of found figures with the artists' own diagrammatic maps and models, the invited authors create unique correlations between thinking and drawing. Due to its ability to mediate between perception and reflection, drawing proves to be one of the most basic instruments of scientific and artistic practice, and plays an essential role in the production and communication of knowledge. The book is a rich compendium of figures of thought, which moves from scientific representation through artistic interpretation and vice versa.

Drawing a Hypothesis (Preface), Nikolaus Gansterer
I Must Be Seeing Things, Clemens Krümmel
A line with variable direction, which traces no contour, and delimits no form, Susanne Leeb.
Grapheus Was Here, Anthony Auerbach
Asynchronous Connections, Kirsten Matheus
Figures of Thoughts, Gerhard Dirmoser.
Collection of Figures of Thoughts, Gerhard Dirmoser
The Line of Thought, Hanneke Grootenboer
Dances of Space, Marc Boeckler
Distancing the If and Then, Emma Cocker
Processing the Routes of Thoughts, Kerstin Bartels
The Hand, the Creatures & The Singing Garden, Moira Roth
Drawing Interest / Recording Vitality, Karin Harasser
Hypotheses non Fingo or When Symbols Fail, Andreas Schinner
Three Elements, Axel Stockburger
A Fragmentary Collection of Emotions and Orientations, graphically recorded, Christian Reder
Radical Cartographies, Philippe Rekazewicz
Measuring the World, Katharina Bösch, Christine Haupt-Stummer, Andreas Kristof
Subjective Objectivities, Jörg Piringer
The Afterthought of Drawing: Six Hypotheses, Jane Tormey
Nonself compatibility in Plants – The Floral-Animal continuityMonika Bakke. 
On the importance of scientific research in relation to the humanities, Walter Seidl
Strong Evidence for telon-priming Cell Layers in the mammalian olfactory bulb, Nardo, M. L.; Adam, A.; Brandlmayr, P.; Fisher B. F.
Expected Anomalies caused by increased Radiation Activity, Christina Stadlbauer
On Pluto 86 Winter lasts 92 Years, Ralo Mayer
The Unthought Known, Felix de Mendelssohn
wiry fantasy or the electronic line is also a handwriting and itself effects the overcoming of its system, which it draws, constructs and leaves: into the poetical eye, too, which has dreamed its original state of pure perception and launches itself into the dialogue as source, Ferdinand Schmatz

During the Summer I will be developing a series of performance presentations in collaboration with Nikolaus Gansterer to launch Drawing a Hypothesis (which are scheduled for the Autumn at a number of venues including MUHKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; KNAW, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam in collaboration with Jan van Eck Academy; and the Secession, Vienna in collaboration with the University of Applied Arts Vienna)

Publication: To Have and To Hold

I have been invited to contribute a text to a forthcoming publication that expands on a project entitled To Have and to Hold, which was curated by NVA, a Scottish environmental arts organization, for the Venice Architectural Biennale, 2010. The Scottish Government & Creative Scotland in partnership with the British Council worked with NVA to represent Scotland at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. NVA’s contribution to the Biennale focused on a project that they are currently involved in at a site near Loch Lomond that includes a late-modernist ruin. Their involvement in the biennale was staged through a series of events aimed at provoking debate and discussion around the proposed redevelopment of this site.

More about the broader project here:

More about the the events in Venice here:

The proposed interdisciplinary publication will include invited contributions from architect Ed Hollis, geographer Hayden Lorimer, architect Henry McKeown, landscape designer Tilman Latz, Adam Sutherland from Grizedale Arts and myself. It is being organized and edited by Gerrie van Noord.

Book Launch: Manual for Marginal Places

Manual for Marginal Places is the inaugural publication commissioned by closeandremote (Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter). The publication brings together my recent text, ‘Making Room for Manoeuvre; or Ways of Operating Along the Margins’, with text and images from artist, Sophie Mellor. Manual for Marginal Places was launched on 14 May 2011, as part of the event, Just Do(ing) It: Artist-led and self-organised cultural activity as resistance to Capitalism (see here). Manual for Marginal Places can be purchased on Amazon here.

Manual for Marginal Places is explored by David Berridge in his blog post ‘ART WRITING LANDSCAPE: WALKING (S)MILES THEREFORE AHM MARGINAL SOUND POET THEREFORE’. In this post Berridge proposed to interrogate, “Four art writing projects (that) unfold relationships and possibilities of, for and about landscape. Strategies for observing then recording the results, or maybe the other way around; scores for intervention; missives for those in the field right now or chair- bed- page confined explorers of type/ book/ screen (e)scapes. Handbooks for weaving together art as life life as art art and life, or as yet un-thought combinations of neither.”

Extract from Berridge's post:

I’m still absorbed in MANUAL FOR MARGINAL PLACES, which I also presented as part of the ART CRITICISM NOW event in Dublin, and whose notion of manual has also been generative for this blog since. A source book, then, documenting (1) letters sent by Sophie Mellor to Emma Cocker whilst the former was spending a short time living without money in Cumbrian towns and countryside; (2) Cocker’s replies in the form of a series of prose texts/ poems on marginality. A dialogue, then, but one open to its breaches as much as its connections.
Initially, MANUAL reads as epistolary novel, with Emma and Sophie’s texts alternating, although Sophie’s soon disappear, and Emma unfolds her prose sequence solely in relation to (Sophies) images. This structure reflect’s how Sophie’s project (she was also a co-curator of the project) was itself a test to generate a set of ideas and practices for future work. It demonstrates the tricky status of such activities (briefly living rough as a funded artist), where art is both deprivation and privilege, the act itself both pretense and very real.
I wonder if these tensions – which are part of the project’s energy, not a critique of something it is unaware of – are also apparent in the text itself. Here is No.12 – Drift. I offer it here, out of context, as an example of a text that has drifted into this new context and location here, curious how in doing so it maintains or loses a sense of MANUAL:
Wandering operates tangentially; it detours, dallies, takes its time. To wander is to drift, becoming a little aimless or unanchored; it is a tactic for getting lost. Its disorientation subjects the commonplace or unnoticed elements of one’s familiar environment to the estrange scrutiny of a stranger’s glance. Navigational aids and maps might be misused for wilful disorientation; guidebooks become tools for defamiliarization and mis-direction as much for finding one’s way. Drifting is a mode of attention that lags behind the trajectory of more purposeful thought, yet other knowledge(s) become revealed in the slipstream of intention, in its shadows and asides. To catch the drift is to gauge the tenor of the subtext, to become attuned to what is left out or unspoken, to what is said in what remains unsaid. Become practiced in the art of wandering and of drifting thought. Follow in the footsteps of others who have wandered from the beaten track. Yet, remember too, that wandering necessarily wanders; its restlessness wills against the delimitation of any single genealogy or definitive theory of its dérive. To wander wills towards remaining unfixed, towards the condition of unbelonging. (40)
Sophie’s texts are reproduced handwritten notes sent from the field. Cocker’s are printed blocks of text on a white page, but their sense of removal is also evident in how their propositional nature removes particulars of person and place, even as it explores a landscape that is both a physical chronicle of nature’s edgelands and a conceptual territory indebted to certain histories of art practice and theory/ philosophy.
Some of Emma’s texts have the feel of a list turning towards litany. The absence of gender or identity for the speaker or addressee, but their simultaneous confidence and stridency, allows a phantom “we” and “us” – maybe “I-thou” – to form alongside the text, one which may also seem absurd and with which we may disagree.
In other sections this subject is not “he” or ”she” but “one”, a subjectivity that is everyone and no one, self and other, confession and avoidance, a deliberate anachronism. Part of the texts own frame and music, it moves uncertainly beyond it, another way these paragraphs fold back into themselves to better propose themselves as objects of use." David Berridge, 2011, http://verysmallkitchen.com

Publication: Towards an Emergent Knowledge of the Margins

I will be contributing a book chapter entitled 'Towards an Emergent Knowledge of the Margins' to the forthcoming publication, Emerging Landscapes. Drawing on my experience of involvement in the recent art project, Urban Retreat (2010), in this chapter I explore the specificity of the marginal landscape as a space of emergence or even emergency, an uncertain or indeterminate territory always at the cusp of being redrawn or re-conceptualized through the prism of both representation and production. Reflecting on specific aspects of the project, Urban Retreat, I explore how the inhabitation of margins requires the development of creative tactics, a ‘productive knowledge’ necessary for operating critically within their unstable terms. This chapter reflects on what can be gleaned from the experiential encounter with a particular marginal place, examining how such tactics might constitute the basis of a manual for living a life in marginal times.

Emerging Landscapes Publication
At a time of environmental crisis, shifting geopolitical boundaries, and economic downturn, Emerging Landscapes ponders the state of landscape and its future, mapping those practices that creatively address the boundaries between possibility, opportunity and action in imagining and shaping our world. Drawing on the productive synergies that emerged from the recent Emerging Landscapes conference, this publication seeks to discuss the potential and limits of landscape studies as a cross-disciplinary field of research.

Event: Temporary Association

Charlotte Morgan and myself will be contributing to this event at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham (on behalf of S1 Artspace)

Temporary Association, Nottingham
Tuesday 19th April, 2011 From midday
The Temporary Association is a concise introduction and update on the activity of four UK based organisations; Spike Island, Eastside Projects, S1 Artspace and One Thoresby Street. 

Speakers Include:
Marie-Anne.McQuay, Helen Legg - Spike Island, Bristol
Ruth Claxton, Gavin Wade - East Side Projects, Birmingham
Emma Cocker and Charlotte Morgan - S1, Sheffield
Bruce Asbestos - One Thoresby Street / Stand Assembly, Nottingham