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.

Performance: Drawing a Hypothesis Reading

I am currently working on a performance reading of the publication Drawing a Hypothesis (above) in collaboration with Nikolaus Gansterer, which we are going to present in a number of contexts during the Autumn. The first performance reading will take place on 22 September 2011 within the context of the exhibition, Graphology Chapter 4 at M HKA, the museum of modern and contemporary art in Antwerp.

A performance lecture by Nikolaus Gansterer and Emma Cocker
Nikolaus Gansterer in collaboration with the UK based writer Emma Cocker will present a performance lecture based on the publication, Drawing a Hypothesis. Using processes of cross-reading and live drawing, their performance lecture approaches the publication as a reader might thumb through a book; where certain sections appear to be lingered over, while others are skimmed in the search for key words and phrases, evocative fragments and extractions. Their reading suggests that books like Drawing a Hypothesis might not always need be read in a linear or logical way, but rather are to be dipped into, allowing for detours and distractions within the event of reading itself. The lecture takes the figures of thought at the heart of Drawing a Hypothesis as points of departure for exploring and performing the correlations between thinking and drawing. Addressing the shifting and ambivalent properties of image, symbol and drawing within the publication, it asks, ‘how can these visual artefacts be comprehended?’

Graphology Chapter 4
(25.08.2011- 25.09.2011)
GRAPHOLOGY was initiated by Edwin Carels (researcher KASK/HoGent)
In four episodes, Graphology explores the automatisms that may show themselves in drawing. The human hand as a seismograph of the inner life, but also, conversely, the ‘mechanical unconsciousness’ of the machine that thrusts itself on the human eye. Printed reproduction techniques lead a life of their own, but how? A series of exhibitions set at the intersection of drawing, photography, printmaking, film and computer graphics. The fourth episode interprets the cinamätographe, as patented by the brothers Lumière, in the most literal sense: as a graphical method to re-produce, a writing of fragmented light images, a play of analysis and synthesis. Contributors include Juliana Borinski, Marcel Broodthaers, Morgan Fisher, Nikolaus Gansterer, Sandra Gibson / Luis Recoder, Wim Janssen, Louis  Auguste Lumière, Jan Evangelista Purkynä, Man Ray, Dominique Somers.

Publication: Keeping Things Open

I have been working on a text for a publication commissioned by NVA, as part of the dialogue surrounding their redevelopment of the St. Peter's seminary (see images above). The publication draws together discussions and writing coming out of NVA's presentation of the project at the XIIth International Architecture Exhibition at Venice Biennale. NVA were invited by the Scottish Government, in partnership with Creative Scotland and the British Council Scotland, to curate a distinctive Scottish presence at La Biennale di Venezia's 2010 International Architecture Exhibition. They presented public events responding to the themes of restoration and reuse of our build heritage, particularly on the potential restoration of St. Peter's Seminary near Cardross. The invitation to write a text (in relation to this intriguing context) has provided opportunity to explore a specifically  propositional form of writing, which draws together a series of 'abstracts' as different 'ways in' or 'openings' for debating the ruin. Rather than conceiving the text as an essay, I have been exploring the possibility of proposing it as an event (whose details will be elaborated at some future point in time). My plan is to develop more work around some of these concerns in the future: an interest in artists' interventions in architecture or place at the cusp of it becoming ruin has been already tentatively considered within some recent writing (Reuben Henry and Karin Kihlberg's work in relation to the Birmingham Central Library, Sean Edwards interest in the Maelfa shopping centre, and Sophie Mellor's 'urban retreat' in the environs of Barrow-in-Furness.  

On the Ruin’s Future: Keeping Things Open
 A proposition: Located at and provoked by the site of the Grade A listed St Peter’s seminary, a modernist ruin in the heart of the Kilmahew Estate, On the Ruin’s Future: Keeping Things Open is conceived as a discursive event, bringing together different positions and perspectives to question and interrogate the potentiality—as well as the problematic—of the architectural ruin. This event explores the possibility of different openings (and notions of openness), to initiate and invite debate around the ruin and the proposed redevelopment of the St Peter’s site. Presentations will be situated in different geographical locations within St Peter’s (see map for location details); a peripatetic audience will engage with ideas simultaneously to a live encounter with the site. The event will begin as dawn breaks and continue as long as the light lasts and weather permits. Audience may come and go as they wish. 

Proposed 'abstracts' include  The Ruins Look Back;  Being Left Open—Ruin as an Open Structure;  Ruin—The Suspended Potentiality of Narrative Stalled;  Performing Ruin;  No Longer and Not Yet;  Becoming Cuckoo: How to Preoccupy Site;  Twelve Categories: Classifying the Unclassified and Unclassifiable;  Outside>Inside  Beautiful Brutal: The Curious Lure of ‘Béton Brut’;  The ‘She’ of Ruin;  Open Poetics

To Have and To Hold launches at Edinburgh Book Festival 2011
In late November 2010 NVA curated “To Have and To Hold” at the 12th International Architectural Biennale in Venice. The discussions in Venice formed the basis of this new publication, which launches at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2011. 

Creative Director Angus Farquhar will discuss NVA’s hopes for St Peter’s with the architectural historian Edward Hollis and the Glasgow-based architect Gordon Murray, all of whom have contributed to the book. “A Future for St Peter’s Seminary? Saving Scotland’s Masterpiece Of Modern Architecture”, takes place on 13th August, 7pm, RBS Corner Theatre in Charlotte Square Gardens, at the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. Advanced copies of the book will be available to buy at the launch event while full distribution will be in September. 

Project/Publication: Borderlands

I am going to be working with photographer, Katja Hock, on a project that draws on our shared interest in border spaces. The project reflects specifically on Hock’s recent work around a series of woodland landscapes, based on her childhood memories of an area close to the border between Germany and Holland. It is possible that our collaboration will involve exploring the potentiality of verweilen, tarrying.

Below are some notes / images from from her recent exhibition, Stillness/Silence/Arrangements.

‘Walking through woodlands, returning to already photographed scenes, the photographs allow the viewer to linger, remain, and spend time creating a relationship between the photographs and their own imagination. The eye wanders between the scenes, acknowledging the reappearance of shapes, but they are slightly different than when seen before, reminding of time passed. It is the moments in-between, those voids between perceived time which cannot be shown that form and change memories and constitute the reading of the images. “For the important thing for the remembering author” as Benjamin remarks, “is not what he experienced, but the weaving of his memory, the Penelope work of recollection. Or should one call it, rather, a Penelope work of forgetting? (1)” (1). Benjamin, W, The Image of Proust in Illuminations ed. Hannah Arendt, Fontana Press, London, 1992, pp.197-210, p198

'Every site is haunted by countless ghosts that lurk there in silence, to be evoked or not. These absences stimulate the imagination, encouraging the viewer to fill in the blank spaces in the landscape.' Kraenzle, C., “Picturing Place: Travel, Photography, and the Imaginative”, in Searching for Sebald, ed. Patt. L, The Institute of Cultural Inquiry, Los Angeles, 2007, pp.126-145, p.138

'Memory encompasses neither the entire spatial appearance of a state of affairs nor its entire temporal course. Compared to photography, memory’s records are full of gaps. […] Memory does not pay much attention to dates – it skips years or stretches temporal distance. […] No matter which scenes an individual remembers, they all mean something relevant to that person, though he or she might not necessarily know what they mean. Thus, they are organized according to a principle which is essentially different from the organizing principle of photography. Photography grasps what is given as a spatial (or temporal) continuum; memory images retain what is given only insofar as it has significance. Since what is significant is not reducible to either merely spatial or merely temporal terms, memory images are at odds with photographic representation.' Kracauer, S, “Photography” in The Mass Ornament, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.), 1995, pp.46-63, p.50.

'When the moon came they set out, but they found no crumbs, for the many thousand of birds which fly about in the woods and fields had picked them all up. Hansel said to Gretel: “We shall soon find the way,” but they did not find it. They walked the whole night and all the next day too from morning till evening, but they did not get out of the forest, and were very hungry, for they had nothing to eat but two or three berries, which grew on the ground. And as they were so weary that their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down beneath a tree and fell asleep.’ Brothers Grimm, Complete Fairy Tales, Routledge, London, 2002, p.69