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.

Publication: Seeing Bodies

I have contributed a text to a new publication called Seeing Bodies by artist Belén Cerezo. Seeing Bodies gathers Belén Cerezo's most recent artistic research that translates to the visual arts some of the main features of the unclassifiable and fascinating literary work of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (1920-1977). Cerezo is interested in Lispector’s affirmation of life and her questioning of binary thinking, and crucially, in how she writes with the body. The title of this publication, Seeing Bodies, is a reference to the work of philosopher and phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty and it attempts to grasp how Cerezo's work explores a gaze that is not detached from the body, but sees with and through the body. 


This book focuses on two works: Viviendo el día (Living the Day) (2018) and A Pool of Light (2019), that extend from Cerezo's artistic investigation and that stage a transdisciplinary encounter between reading, filming and installation practices. Seeing Bodies is structured in two sections: the first one carefully gathers visual documentation of Cerezo's works, and the second one is composed of three texts by invited contributors: ‘Lighting the Reading: A conversation between Belén Cerezo and Maria Ptqk thinking-with Clarice Lispector, Donna Haraway and María Puig de la Bellacasa’, ‘Being in the World, Being in the Image’ by Sergio Martínez Luna and ‘Touched by a Lighter Sensitivity; or, On How Not to Break the Egg’ by Emma Cocker. Seeing Bodies is designed by Gorka Eizagirre and has been funded by the Culture Department, Basque Government. 

Below is an extract from my text, ‘Touched by a Lighter Sensitivity; or, On How Not to Break the Egg’.


"[...] The artist has a job to do, a role to perform. An attempt is made to resist resolution, not to allow the work to become too quickly fixed into definitive form. This is not to privilege the process above the product, but rather to dispense of these categories altogether, since here they no longer serve. The work of art is the work of art. What is encountered is the endeavour of practice, where the means are not separable from the end. The working of the work (its moments of epiphany and revelation) can be unpredictable, unforeseeable in advance. Known only when seen, recognisable only when found. Necessarily then, the artist proceeds somewhat blindly, in the absence of a clear plan. Yet, this is not to say that artistic work is vague or imprecise, unthinking or impulsive. Rather, because she does not yet know what she is searching for, the artist must remain vigilant and alert, attentive and receptive to the possibilities within every instant. Too strong her intent and she misses the kairos. [...]


The work of the artist might well begin in the absence of a clearly defined question or place to start. Yet, this is not to say that she sets out from nothing — from blank slate or empty stage — for there is always a before. Still, she ventures from where she finds herself, at this moment, here-and-now. Artistic process involves a reciprocal relation between thinking and making — the edges where one starts and the other begins can be difficult to discern. Thinking-making — a complex relation, from com- with, together, and plectere meaning to weave, to braid, entwine. Making-thinking. Which comes first … the chicken or the egg? This question speaks of a desire to differentiate cause from effect; moreover, to establish these relations within a chronological timeframe. It can seem that causes come first, whilst effects necessarily follow. Resistant to the sequential logic of this-follows-this, the conundrum of the chicken and egg refers to the interweaving of a mutually dependent relation. There is no originary cause, since each is dependent on the other for its coming-into-existence. Likewise, one might consider the relation between artistic thinking and making, even between artist and art. As the artist works to create the conditions for artistic practice, in turn, the practising of artistic work shapes her subjectivity, her way of being in the world. Art and artist are thus radically co-constitutive: each draws the other into being, affirmation of a mutual bringing-into-life".


Language-Based Artistic Research: Special Interest Group

Towards curiosity and openness, exploration beyond definition: How is language-based artistic research? Beyond words alone, how is artistic research undertaken in and through different language-based practices? The focus on language within artistic research is considered from a broad and transforming perspective to include diverse fields such as visual arts, performance, film, theatre, music, choreography as well as literature. The intent is not to define or fix what language-based artistic research is but rather to reflect how it is practised in its diversity.


Conceived and co-organised by Emma Cocker, Alexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus and Lena Séraphin, this Society of Artistic Research Special Interest Group (SAR SIG) provides a context for coming together via the exchange of language-based artistic research. A SIG website has now been launched – see https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/835089/835129


Emergent aims of the Special Interest Group include: to explore language as part of artistic research practice rather than as a tool of explication and accounting; to expand the idea of language-based practices (to include and to move beyond writing, reading, speaking, listening); to create contexts (physical and virtual) for language-based artistic researchers to show and share practices; identify examples of practice within the field of artistic research and to establish shared frames of reference; share the findings from projects and residencies that focus on language-based artistic research.


Call for Contributions: Artist-researchers working with language are invited to contribute to Practice Sharing, an online presentation of expanded approaches to language-based practice within the field of artistic research. Examples of language-based artistic research are invited focusing on specific practices, processes, approaches or methods; ways of working, constellations of activity or framing patterns, particular projects or lines of enquiry-in-practice. Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2020.  See full call here: