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.

Project: Summer Lab update

Summer Method Lab
14 July – 14 August 2016
AILab, Vienna, in conjunction with ImPulsTanz

During the Summer Lab 2016, we – Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil and Emma Cocker staged an intensive residency laboratory in collaboration with AILab and ImPulsTanz Festival. In dialogue with a team of international critical interlocutors and guests including Alex Arteaga, Lilia Mestre, Werner Möbius, Jörg Piringer and Christine De Smedt, this research residency focused towards experimental forms of publication, for ‘making public’ the live intensity of our exploration, its moments of discovery and revelation. An account and documentation of this phase of our research project can be found here.

Publication in development: Choreo-graphic Figures

From Summer onwards, we - myself, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil (and invited contributors) - will be working to develop content for an artists' publication from the project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, within which we will present the core conceptual, methodological and aesthetic discoveries made during our shared research. By grappling with the physical components of the publication during the recent Summer Lab in Vienna as a form of live exploration in and of itself, we were able to discern a structure comprised of textual-visual chapters including the Undisciplinary, Figure >< Figuring, Embodied Diagrammatics, which will be presented alongside an elaboration of the Method Lab model itself, artists’ pages for the various 'Figures' that we have developed through our research process, and an extended expositional section for articulating a ‘toolkit’ of working approaches related to the Practices of Attention, Notation, Conversation and Wit(h)nessing. Additionally, our publication will comprise contributions from many of the critical wit(h)nesses who have encountered our evolving research including Alex Arteaga, Arno Boehler and Susanne Granzer, Gabrielle Cram, Christine De Smedt, Karin Harrasser, Krassimira Kruschkova, Brandon Labelle, Lilia Mestre, Dieter Mersch, Werner Möbius, Alva Noë, Jeanette Pacher, Jörg Piringer, Helmut Ploebst, P. A. Skantze, Andreas Spiegl. Themes that we have invited for consideration include an exploration of:
  • Aesthetic research through the prism of enactivist theory;
  • Tactics of organisation/reorganization and the notion of affordance;
  • Critical curiosity and creative impulse;
  • The forces, flows and intensities at play within the time-space of artistic research;
  • The fluidity of co-emergence;
  • The time-space of the studio/lab, the durations and temporalities of artistic practice;
  • The play between attention and inattention, between productivity and non-productivity within the cycle of artistic labour;
  • Practices of resistance to utilitarianism or instrumentalisation, to dominant modes of production and the market;
  • The entanglement of experimentation and experience within collaboration and participation;
  • Possibilities for action and ethics beyond the normative within both aesthetic exploration and the wider societal field;
  • Non-categorical thinking, experimentation, plasticity and essaying as ways of avoiding closure;
  • The fragility, intimacy and solidarity arising from our entanglement with others, alongside the surfacing of ethical sensitivities;
  • The nano-political potential of minor movement-acts within aesthetic exploration and their reverberation within the wider societal field.

Lecture: Transmission - Who is the Artist?

I have been invited to give an 'artist's' talk as part of the Sheffield Hallam Transmission artists lecture series, on Tuesday 24 January 2017, 4.00pm

About the lecture series: The Transmission lecture series takes as its theme for 2016 to 2017 the question of who is an artist. This is not a faint echo of Joseph’s Beuys’s famous statement, reiterated endlessly by Beuys and others, that everyone is an artist (by which in any case, Beuys intended to suggest that everyone could apply a bit of creative thinking in whatever field they work, rather than that sort of thinking belonging solely to those who call themselves artists). We ask if it in an act of self-identification to name oneself an artist, or if it is exteriorised, that one is named as such by others. We ask if one learns to call oneself an artist, or if the title precedes the act, even produces it, as though an autopoesis, in response to or as part of an environment or system (or what might occur or be invested beyond this). We ask if to be an artist is more than a business term, one produced by and subject to market forces; if it is more than a job or less than a job or unlike a job. We ask if it demands a measure of skill, of technical competence, and to what extent this is contingent on cultural determination (and likewise, we suppose, for terms such as beauty). We ask what lies in a name and in a title. Transmission is convened by, Sharon Kivland, TC McCormack, Hester Reeve, and Julie Westerman, in collaboration with Site Gallery, Sheffield. The programme for 2016-17 is available here.

Publication: Contemporary art and Classical Myth

The publication Contemporary art and Classical Myth (eds.) Isabelle Loring Wallace and Jennie Hirsh (Routledge) to which I contributed the chapter, Over and Over Again and Again (exploring a specifically Sispyhean model of failure and repetition within post 1960’s art practice) is now available in paperback.

About the publication: Contemporary art is deeply engaged with the subject of classical myth. Yet within the literature on contemporary art, little has been said about this provocative relationship. Composed of fourteen original essays, Contemporary Art and Classical Myth addresses this scholarly gap, exploring, and in large part establishing, the multifaceted intersection of contemporary art and classical myth. The essays assembled here adopt a range of methodological frameworks, from iconography to deconstruction, and do so across an impressive range of artists and objects: Francis Alÿs, Ghada Amer, Wim Delvoye, Luciano Fabro, Joanna Frueh, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Duane Hanson, Yayoi Kusama, Roy Lichtenstein, Kara Walker, and an iconic photograph by Richard Drew subsequently entitled The Falling Man. Some essays concentrate on single works as they relate to specific myths, while others take a broader approach, calling on myth as a means of grappling with dominant trends in contemporary art