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.

New Writing: Helmsman's Knowledge

The act of sailing involves the interaction of the boat and the skipper and the water and the wind. Learning to sail requires the negotiation between and with these different elements; it is a process of facilitation or mediation that attempts to make good the turbulence created by the pull of the water and the push of the wind. Sailing thus involves a mode of attendance or attention to these different and often competing forces; moreover, an intuition for knowing when to yield and for recognizing when to assert control. Our own experience of being in the world might equally be thought of in terms of these interrelations and co-dependencies. Subject formation is a highly contingent process that takes place somehow between and through the event of affecting and of being affected by other things.

The trope of sailing and the figure of the helmsman have become recurrent motifs within my recent research practice, used to articulate the sense of interconnectedness inherent within the experience of ‘being’; moreover, for intimating towards how lived experience might be steered actively through the cultivation of ‘helmsman’s knowledge’. In the first instance, ‘helmsman’s knowledge’ involves an acknowledgement of oneself as a force amongst other forces, awareness of one’s capacity to both affect and be affected by other things. Secondly, ‘helmsman’s knowledge’ might be developed as a ‘tactical’ form of knowledge capable of navigating or working with life’s contingent forces and pressures, by harnessing (rather than simply being blown about by) the push and pull of these various ‘winds’ and ‘currents’. Drawing on my own live experience of various art encounters, alongside selected theoretical and philosophical ideas, I am currently working on new writing that elaborates the notion of ‘helmsman’s knowledge’ or the endeavour of ‘steering a life’ as an ethico-aesthetic practice.

Performance: Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis

On 20 September 2012 Nikolaus Gansterer and I presented our performance lecture Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis at Das Lehrerzimmer based in PROGR (Centre of Cultural Production) Bern, alongside a book launch of the publication project, Drawing a Hypothesis: Figures of Thought. Below are some images of the event.

Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: performance, Das Lehrerzimmer, Bern

Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: post-performance, Das Lehrerzimmer, Bern
Drawing on Drawing a Hypothesis: post-performance, Das Lehrerzimmer, Bern

Below is a translation of a short review of the presentation published here

Drawing Thoughts
Review by Roland Fischer

"Drawing is not just for artists. Scientists also draw diligently; barely a research article passes which has no diagram or sketch. The Austrian artist Nikolas Gansterer has developed something of an obsession for these fantastic pictures, not only for their scientific content, but also for the design and the implicit codes; the agreements which are required for making such diagrams immediately readable. Gansterer’s diagram-collection is now in a book that he presented in the Lehrerzimmer yesterday. It is a book full of pictures not just to be read, but to some extent also diagrammed, which became a very special book presentation. Gansterer distinguishes himself by simple, sometimes sprawling diagrams of art, on paper or on a blackboard, while the co-author Emma Cocker reads passages from the book and text fragments projected on the wall. Thus, the two create a very stimulating way of approaching the subject of "Drawing a Hypothesis": a reading as a sketch, as a visually comprehensible making of thoughts." 

Launch: COPY publication

COPY publication Launch and Party

Site Gallery, Sheffield
Thursday 6 September 6 – 8pm

As part of COPY’s residency at Site Gallery, this event presents work by Joanna Loveday and Charlotte Morgan, a series of commissioned prints by Daniel Fogarty, Louisa Martin, Ami Clarke and Fay Nicolson and Oliver Smith, and launches a new publication Papers, Fictions, Scripts and Circles. Papers, Fictions, Scripts and Circles features contributions from David Berridge, Rachel Lois Clapham, Ami Clarke, Emma Cocker, Patrick Coyle, Jamie Crewe, Simon Cutts, Kit Hammonds, Lynn Harris, Jennifer Hodgson, Simon Lewandowski,  Francis McKee, Tamarin Norwood, David Osbaldeston, Alun Rowlands and Erica Van Horn, and acts as an index to the Saturday Brunch Conversations which will be available for listening here.

Collaboration: Tacturiency - Game of Resonance

Emma Cocker and Clare Thornton, Tacturiency - Game of Resonance, 2012.

Tacturiency - Game of Resonance (2012) is one of a series of works made in collaboration with Clare Thornton as part of our developing project, Tacturiency. The video was produced during Summer Lodge at Nottingham Trent University, July 2012, with the assistance of Christine Stevens. Supported by Nottingham Trent University and Spike Associates & Turning Point South West Curatorial & Travel Bursaries.