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.

Symposium: SAR International Conference on Artistic Research,

We – Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil – will be presenting a paper at the 10th SAR International Conference on Artistic Research, Zurich University of the Arts, March 21-23, 2019. The 10th SAR conference is organized around three topics - Productive Gaps, Enhanced Dissemination Formats, and Inspiring Failures – and puts the manifoldness of artistic research practices and the discussion of specific aspects in each session at the center of the conference. Our own presentation will form part of the strand on Enhanced Dissemination Formats, and reflects on questions, possibilities and challenges explored in the production of a research catalogue exposition that we have recently developed for ‘scoring an aesthetic encounter’ with the multimodal — visual, textual, sonic, performative — findings from the artistic research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line.

How can we create a digital archive capable of reflecting the durational and relational aspects of the research process, a mode of online dissemination that communicates the liveness or vitality — the energies and intensities — of collaborative live exploration? Beyond the limitations of the static two-dimensional page, how can an enhanced digital format enable a non-linear, rhizomatic encounter with artistic research, where findings are activated and navigated, interacted or even played with as a choreo-graphic event?

In this presentation, we — Cocker, Gansterer, Greil — reflect on questions, possibilities and challenges explored in the production of Choreo-graphic Figures: Scoring Aesthetic Encounters, a research catalogue exposition for ‘scoring an aesthetic encounter’ with the multimodal — visual, textual, sonic, performative — findings from the artistic research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line. Choreo-graphic Figures stages a beyond-disciplinary, inter-subjective encounter between the lines of choreography, drawing and writing, for exploring the knowing-thinking-feeling produced in collaborative exchange. Evolving through a series of Method Labs (test sites for experiential knowledge production) our enquiry focuses on how to give articulation to the how-ness within artistic research-creation: the micro-processes of unfolding decision-making, thinking-in-action, the durational ‘taking place’ of something happening live.

Through an experimental, iterative research process (2014 — 2017) we have devised a set of ‘practices’ (of Attention, Notation, Conversation, Wit(h)nessing) for focusing on the event of figuring (those hard to discern yet transformative energies that often steer the evolving artistic activity) and the emergence of figures (the point where the undifferentiated awareness of ‘something happening’ [figuring] is recognisable through a name)In conjunction, we have developed an innovative ‘score system’ as a research tool or apparatus for bringing-into-relation these different practices and figures through the event of live composition. Our exposition tests how this permutational score system might operate within an online environment, as a device for endlessly (re)organising our research materials to better reflect the contingency of the research process itself.

Event: Research Pavilion Assembly

Next week I will be in Helsinki for the 3rd 'Assembly' for bringing together researchers in preparation for the Research Pavilion taking place in Venice in the Summer. I am currently involved in a research 'cell' led by Alex Arteaga called Through Phenomena Themselves - this 'cell' will be inhabiting the Research Pavilion throughout May and June. More about the Research Pavilion here. A description of the research cell Through Phenomena Themselves can be read below.

Through Phenomena ThemselvesExploring new possibilities of mutual transformation between artistic and phenomenological research practices 
This research cell proposes an inquiry into research practices developed in two fields—artistic research and phenomenology—that operate with and through phenomena as their object of research or as the primary medium of exposure to and/or of their object of research. Accordingly this cell is to be understood as a network of practice-based research processes on phenomena based and/or phenomena-oriented research practices. The main focus of this research cell is to explore new possibilities of mutual enhancement, refinement and hybridization between specific artistic and phenomenological research practices. Although the research goals might be divergent, both evolving fields of practice share a common base: an interest in the generative nature of our existence, alongside the mobilization of embodied subjectivity in first-person perspective processes of inquiry whose primary objects are emergent, co-constituted, intuitive, evident presences—that is, phenomena.

Shared reflection based on processes of artistic and phenomenological research and the artifacts they produce as well as texts and dialogues in different formats and constellations, will aim to bridge the gaps and mutual misapprehensions that hinder tapping the full potential for the further development of both fields of research. Specifically, interpretations and uses of phenomenological theories by artist researchers can diverge, sometimes fundamentally, from the understanding of these theories in the phenomenological context, focusing on a restricted concept of phenomenology as a set of theories, whilst ignoring that phenomenology is, first of all, a method of research. In parallel, the distance of phenomenologists to artistic practices can result in their reluctance to acknowledge such practices as research. The aim of this research cell is not to defend phenomenology but to investigate unexplored possibilities by exposing phenomenological concepts and practices and practices of artistic research to one another. In this open-ended investigation, critical views elaborated in the framework of process philosophy, poststructuralism, feminism, new materialism and speculative realism will also be addressed.

Cell’s participants (provisory list. State: November 2018): Emmanuel Alloa, Alex Arteaga, Emma Cocker, Alexander Damianisch, Nikolaus Gansterer, Saara Hannula, Esa Kirkkopelto, Tuomas Leitinen, Leena Rouhiainen, Jaakko Ruuska and Tülay Schakir.

This research cell is conceived and coordinated by Alex Arteaga in cooperation with Emma Cocker, Leena Rouhiainen and Alexander Damianisch and produced as a collaboration of the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Being in the Midst: Per-forming Thinking in Action

Over the coming weeks I am giving a series of invited lectures with the title Being in the Midst: Per-forming Thinking in Action. This is the title of a book that I am ‘in the midst’ of working on, and I will be approaching these lectures as a context for ‘thinking through’ this title in relation to some of my recent projects and collaborations:

* Wednesday 30 January, Lincoln School of Art and Design
* Monday 4 March, York St. John University
* Wednesday 13 March, Derby University

The title echoes that of a research article that I published in 2016, which explores the relation between 'performing thinking' in action and performing 'thinking-in-action'. See article here. The notion of 'thinking in action' has been a recurring motif my research and writing over the last decade, and will continue to be turned over and over (in different ways) within some of my forthcoming research projects. More on this soon.