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: Only in Uncertain Light

“The limit of something is the limit of its action and not the outline of its figure … You are walking in a dense forest, you’re afraid … little by little the forest thins out you are pleased. You reach a spot and you say, ‘whew, here’s the edge’. The edge of the forest is a limit. [Is] that the forest … defined by its outline? It’s a limit of what? Is it a limit to the form of the forest? [No] It’s a limit to the action of the forest, that is to say that the forest that has so much power arrives at the limits of its power, it can no longer lie over the terrain, it thins out … [T]his is not an outline… we can’t even specify the precise moment at which there is no more forest. There was a tendency, and this time the limit is not separable, a kind of tension towards the limit. It’s a dynamic limit that is opposed to an outline limit. The thing has no other limit than the limit of its power [puissance] or its action. The thing is thus power and not form. The forest is not defined by a form: it is defined by a power, power to make the trees continue up to the point where is can no longer do so. The only question that I have to ask the forest is: what is your power? That is to say, how far will you go?” Gilles Deleuze, Lectures on Spinoza, Cours Vincennes, 17/02/1981)

I am currently writing a new prose-poem text, which will form part of a collaborative publication with Katja Hock (in conjunction with her forthcoming exhibition in Nottingham in the Autumn).   The text is currently emerging as a series of ten short chapters or sections as follows: (1) Indeterminacy; (2) Duration; (3) Absorption; (4) Verticality; (5) Glimpsing; (6) Attending; (7) Tarrying; (8) Distancing; (9) Re- (turning); (10) Gathering. Structured as such, this text forms part of an ongoing set of serialised prose-poems including 'Room for Manoeuvre; or, Ways of Operating Along the Margins'; 'The Yes of the No!'; 'Social Experiments'.

As part of this text, I have been thinking a lot about Maya Deren's description of the poetic as a form of verticality, that attend not to the what but rather to how something is happening:

"The distinction of poetry is its structure, is what I mean as a poetic structure and a poetic construct arises from the fact that it is a vertical investigation of a situation. It probes the moment, it probes the ramification of the moment, and is concerned with its qualities and its depth. So that you have poetry concerned in a sense, not with what is occurring but with what is feels like, or what it means. A poem ... creates visible or auditory forms for something that is invisible, the feeling or the emotions or the metaphysical content of a moment. It also may include action, but its attack is what I call the vertical attack, and this contrasts with the horizontal attack of a drama, which is concerned with the development from situation to situation... whereas a poem is concerned with the development within a very small situation, from feeling to feeling".

Publication: Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art

My essay, The Restless Line, Drawing has been published in Hyperdrawing: Beyond the Lines of Contemporary Art (eds.) Phil Sawdon and Russell Marshall (I.B.Tauris, 2012)

In this follow-up to 2007’s Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art, Phil Sawdon and Russell Marshall, directors of TRACEY, curate contemporary drawing within fine art practice from 2006 through to 2010. Four essays and images from 33 international artists collectively explore the boundaries of the Hyperdrawing space, investigating in essence what lies beyond drawing – images that use traditional materials or subjects whilst also pushing beyond the traditional, employing sound, light, time, space and technology. Over and above traditional views and practices, the authors and artists in this book recognise and embrace the opportunities inherent in the essential ambiguity of drawing. Practitioners of hyperreal works, 2d 3d 4d pieces and installations that push beyond photorealism all find their place within this new conception of Hyperdrawing as techné, a productive space no longer limited by spatial boundaries. Artists including Catherine Bertola, Layla Curtis, Richard Grayson, Karl Haendel, Garrett Phelan, Suzanne Treister and Ulrich Vogl alongside the essays of Emma Cocker, Siún Hanrahan, Marsha Meskimmon and Phil Sawdon/Russell Marshall provide a contemporary view in both visual and written form that propose ambiguity as a strategic approach in drawing research and practice.