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.

Writing: Cartographies of Escape

Over the last year I have been working on a number of interrelated book chapters as part of a cluster of research which I am entitling Cartographies of Escape. This cluster of research investigates how artistic practice can offer a platform for practicing or rehearsing alternative ‘ways of operating’ to the increasingly limited, prescriptive templates of citizenship perpetuated by and within contemporary neoliberalism. Chapters include 'Towards an Emergent Knowledge of the Margins' which is going to be published in the forthcoming Emerging Landscapes: Between Production and Representation, (ed.) Eugenie Shinkle, (Ashgate Publishing, 2012); 'Border Crossings: Practices for Beating the Bounds', which will be published in Liminal Landscapes (eds.) Hazel Andrews and Les Roberts, (Routledge, 2012) and 'Looking for Loopholes- The Cartography of Escape' which will be published in The Cartographical Necessity of Exile, (ed.) Karen Bishop, which attempts to conceive of a form of elective exile manifesting as a search for (temporal) loopholes or moments of porosity within a given system or structure. More on these publications soon.

Performance: Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis (Part 2)

On 27 October 2011, Nikolaus Gansterer and Emma Cocker presented the second iteration of their performance lecture Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis at KNAW in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Previous iterations of the lecture took place at (Part 1) M HKA, Antwerp. The performance lecture took place in the old meeting room of the Trippenhuis Building, home to the Royal Netherlands Society of Arts and Science. The event also included a short lecture by art-historian Susanne Leeb on the materiality of the diagram, extending ideas from within her chapter in the publication Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Research (ed.) Nikolaus Gansterer, (Springer, 2011). The next book launch and iteration of the performance-lecture will take place on 23 Nov at the Kunsthalle Project Space, Vienna. Below are a couple of images of the event at the Trippenhuis, Amsterdam.

Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: Nikolaus Gansterer introducing the event
Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: pre-performance
Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: performance-lecture Emma Cocker and Nikolaus Gansterer

Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: performance-lecture Emma Cocker and Nikolaus Gansterer
Drawing a Hypothesis: book launch in the Rembrandt Room, Trippenhuis, Amsterdam

Project: From Where I Stand I can See You

I have been invited to be a ‘Seer-in-Residence’ as part of a project in development called From Where I Stand I can See You which brings together the practices of UK based artist Traci Kelly and Norway based Rita Marhaug. A number of Seers-in-Residence will be involved in responding to Kelly’s component within this project, addressing her work through the specific prism of his or her own practice and interests. An initial conversation with Kelly suggests potential for exploring ideas emerging from the terms ellipsis and eclipse. More to follow soon.

Project: Dumb Fixity

Over the next year, I am planning to work with artists McCormack+Gent in relation to their ongoing project, Dumb Fixity, with the view to (hopefully) developing some new writing.  
Dumb Fixity arose from a desire to measure an abstract set of phenomena, working on the premise that things can speak and to find a means of hearing what they are telling us. The first question was how we could negate the subjective interpretations of our human perspective, if we could transcend our human desire to name, label, and categorise matter and meaning. 

The answer was that it is impossible: there is no avoiding our disadvantaged position of being human; we cannot escape comprehending and defining the world through our language. How then do we hear a shared language of the mountain, the fox or the lamp? We had to take another tack. This investigation is a process of fixity, an attempt to plot the proximities, connections, and allegiances of things, and trace the associations of their auras.” McCormack+Gent

Research: Practices for Thinking (Oneself) Differently

“You see, that’s why I really work like a dog, and I worked like a dog all my life. I am not interested in the academic status of what I am doing, because my problem is my own transformation […] This transformation of oneself by one’s own knowledge is, I think, something rather close to an aesthetic experience”. Michel Foucault, ‘An Interview by Stephen Riggins’, Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth. Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984, Volume 1, (ed.) Paul Rabinow, (New York, The New Press, 1997), p.131.

Developing some of the ideas generated within recent projects and publications, I am currently working on a new phase of research which explores the triangulation of (A) certain philosophies of subjectivity (the concept of ‘making life into a work of art’); (B) various tactical practices (affective, embodied ‘ways of operating’ drawn largely from contemporary art contexts) and (C) reflections on the knowledge(s) produced therein (specifically an exploration of techné).  I am interested in approaching the (art) research process as an affirmative practice for thinking (oneself) differently, thinking about certain forms of artistic research and practice as ‘tactics’ or ‘ways of operating’ for producing a critical form of subjectivity, part of a wider process of subjectivization. Purposefully shifting from thinking of research as determined within and by the (narrow) terms of an academic ‘project’ (perhaps as defined by the more instrumentalized and commodified conceptualizations of research within academia) I want to develop an understanding of the research process as a live and lived enquiry, considering it in analogous terms to or as a manifestation of the philosophical project of ‘making life into a work of art’ (Foucault). My intent is to move from viewing research as the teleological pursuit of knowledge, a linear and outcome-driven process catalyzed by the identification of questions to which conclusions are subsequently sought. Instead, I will consider research as an expression of ‘conatus’ (Spinoza) or of the ‘enquiring of the enquirer (Badiou) where the search or striving of its endeavor (rather than its outputs or contribution to knowledge) is recuperated critical value. Here, a subject is not what is studied at a distance but rather what is performed or enacted through the research itself.'   
Over the next year or so, I will be exploring projects and collaborations which help to interrogate these concerns further. More on this to follow soon.