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.

Event: Live Notation

I have been invited by Hester Reeve to attend the Live Notation Unit’s symposium at Arnolfini, with the view to producing some new writing. I am enviging that this might help me develop some ideas in relation to my current research in relation to drawing’s (notation’s) speculative and constitutive potential, and the possibility of critical subjectivity and knowledge produced therein, where I have been thinking about drawing as a form of techné and the kairotic potential (or opportune timing) of such a practice. Drawing on philosopher Antonio Negri’s writing on ‘kairos’, I am currently interrogating drawing’s knowledge as a kairotic event, as the restless instant where naming (drawing) and the thing named (drawn) attain co-existence (in time).


Live artists and live coders, working towards live notation

27th July 2012
Arnolfini, Bristol BS1 4QA
Symposium and performances

The Live Notation Unit (LNU) takes over the Arnolfini for a day using its spaces as an experimental laboratory in which to combine two radical performance practices: Live Art and Live Coding. The LNU will approach programming as performance art, performance art notation as code, code as speech, bodies as interpreters, and more.
On the menu are improvisational sound works (where computer code and the artists’ bodies become instruments), site-specific time based art works (where notation becomes the ‘piece’ as opposed to its recording device) and a series of position papers proposing what the LNU’s new term “live notation” might signify.

Bringing together Sam Aaron, Geoff Cox, Yuen Fong Ling, Dave Griffiths, Alex McLean, Brigid Mcleer, Thor Magnusson, Click Nilson, Hester Reeve, Kate Sicchio, Andre Stitt, Maria X, and Matthew Yee-King.

For more information and a preliminary programme, please the Live Notation Unit website:

Below is my text written in response to the Live Notation Unit event.

Collaboration: Tacturiency (at Summer Lodge)

Below are images from Tacturiency (a collaborative project that I am developing with Clare Thornton) produced in the context of a one-week 'residency' at Summer Lodge, NTU, 2012, with the excellent support/involvement of intern, Christine Stevens. Further documentation of Tacturiency at Summer Lodge can be found here

In Games of Resonance, Cocker and Thornton appear as operatives engaged in a series of opaque or ambiguous tasks, whose visual poetics reside somewhere between séance and shiftwork. The table becomes a conversational space for playing out the productive frictions and desired points of difficulty within collaboration, performed through a visual/gestural language that is heightened yet economic, minimal yet baroque.

Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Game of Resonance (Soul Partition), 2012
Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Game of Resonance (Soul Partition), 2012

Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Game of Resonance (Torque of Collaboration), 2012
Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Game of Resonance (Torque of Collaboration), 2012

Event: Strategies for approaching repeating problems

I am currently developing a new iteration of Re - (a collaborative performance reading with Rachel Lois Clapham) which will be presented as part of Strategies for approaching repeating problems, the closing event for the exhibition Accidentally on Purpose, curated by Candice Jacobs and Fay Nicolson.

Strategies for approaching repeating problems
6 October 2012 - 10:00 - 16:00
The Box, Quad, Market Place, Derby

Emma Cocker & Rachel Lois Clapham, Fatima Hellberg, Gil Leung, Andrew McGettigan, Francesco Pedraglio, David Raymond Conroy, Alex Vasudevan.

Strategies for approaching repeating problems presents a series of performances, presentations and talks around the ideas explored in the Accidentally on Purpose exhibition at QUAD, connecting the exhibition to wider contemporary issues in cultural production and discourse. Taking the notion of a repeating problem as a starting point, we invite artists, writers and curators to discuss an element of their practice within this framework: From difficulties inherent in language and communication to the way artists and writers position themselves in relation to wider social issues, such as education and the public sphere, this event will identify an array of current or ever-present difficulties, discuss their perception from different positions and consider whether notions of progress or return are clichés or inevitable fates. 

Rachel Lois Clapham & Emma Cocker - Artists and writers, Rachel Lois Clapham and Emma Cocker will perform a new version of Re — an ongoing iterative project that essays the relation between meaning and intention, hesitation and purpose, and the visible and invisible states of not knowing within the event of practice.

Fatima Hellberg - Curator Fatima Hellberg will be performing Wooden Eyes, Why Are You Looking at Me? a series of reflections on productivity and anxiety, starting with an autobiographic narrative, told from the perspective of a pencil. Turning to American economist Leonard E. Read’s ‘I Pencil’, alongside a number of other neo-liberal management treatises Hellberg explores the use of the fable and mysticism as a way of containing, and coping with vulnerability in management.

Andrew McGettigan - Recognising that we are in the midst of a strong push to reform education, writer and researcher Andrew McGettigan asks What is Education For? Responding to the fall in recent GCSE and A level exam results and the rise in University tuition fees, McGettigan will probe recent shifts away from state administered and funded provision towards private educational operations that favour competition, fees and test outcomes. 

Francesco Pedraglio - Francesco Pedraglio is an artist, writer and co-founder of the art-space FormContent. Pedraglio will be performing Writing methods for hands and windows, creating a direct link between internal and external space this performance reflects on the mechanics of storytelling in relation to the subjectivity and perception of shape and form. Speaking and writing directly in a foreign language, Pedraglio faces the problems associated with ‘making sense’ while delivering a story to an audience.

David Raymond Conroy  - Artist David Raymond Conroy will be performing I know that fantasies are full of lies, a talk that combines Roland Barthes' Reality Effect with McDonald’s advertising photography to explore imperfection’s role in creating a sense of authenticity. Using mobile phone pictures and YouTube clips, Conroy will map out what roles humility, fallibility and disappointment might have to play in seduction, desire and capitalism.

Alex Vasudevan - Dr. Alex Vasudevan is a Lecturer in Cultural and Historical Geography at the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on radical politics in Germany and the wider geographies of neo-liberal globalisation. He also works on the spatial politics of contemporary art. Within Strategies for approaching repeating problems Vasudevan aims to consider the question of failure and loss in relation to urbanism, the aesthetics of politics, and activist communities.

Gil Leung - Gil Leung is a writer, artist and curator based in London. She is Distribution Manager at LUX and editor of Versuch journal. She writes for Afterall and other independent publications. For Strategies for approaching repeating problems, Leung has been invited to chair the final panel discussion with other participants. 

For more information about the participants download this PDF

Accidentally on Purpose
Friday 27th July to Sunday 7th October
Curated by Candice Jacobs and Fay Nicolson
Quad, Market Place, Derby

Artists include Becky Beasley, Karen Cunningham, Michael Dean, Cyprien Gaillard, Ryan Gander, Paul Graham, Jonathan Monk, Rose O’Gallivan, Edit Oderbolz, Dan Rees, Clunie Reid, George Shaw and Ryszard Wasko.

Accidentally on Purpose takes its title from an American Sitcom situated in the banality of the everyday. Its characters strive to make the best of an unfortunate situation; repetitively re-negotiating the uncertainty of their lives. The exhibition explores the relationship between success and failure using common place materials, everyday situations and repetitious processes as a point of departure.  Art works grapple with their materiality, context or the processes that bring them into being; challenging the frameworks we use to judge success or validate an aesthetic decision, sincere message, or logical action. Objects, images and words test their own limits, and in doing so, re-negotiate and redefine their success or failure, intention or meaning.

Candice Jacobs & Fay Nicolson in conversation: to download PDF please click here