Emma Cocker is a writer-artist based in Sheffield and Associate Professor in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Operating under the title Not Yet There, Cocker's research enquiry focuses on the process of artistic endeavour, alongside models of (art) practice and subjectivity that resist the pressure of a single, stable position by remaining wilfully unresolved. Her mode of working unfolds restlessly along the threshold between writing/art, including experimental, performative and collaborative approaches to producing texts parallel to and as art practice. Cocker's recent writing has been 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 (Affect), 2013; On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, 2013; Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, 2017; The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice, and as a solo collection entitled The Yes of the No, 2016.

Symposium: Unmaking

Symposium on Unmaking, 11 November 2017, 10am-5pm, Sheffield Institute of Arts
Part of the Algomech festival of Algorithmic Mechanical Performance and Art.

This arts-research symposium puts forward Unmaking as a form of resistance. The taking apart of technology - whether algorithmic or mechanic - is a step in reaching new understanding, whether cultural, historical, or technical. The focus on movement in this process, for example through choreographic, musical, textile, or political action, provides common language for discussion across disciplines. The symposium is convened by the PENELOPEproject, where the mythological figure of Penelope from Ancient Greece provides a universal paradigm of unmaking. Discussion will be lead by Ellen Harlizius-Klück, weaver, mathematician; Laura Sillars, curator; Ernest Edmonds, computer artist. Speakers include: Amy Twigger-Holroyd, reknitter; Emma Cocker, writer-artist; Flavia Carraro, anthropologist of technology and science; Naomi Kashiwagi, visual and sound artist; Christian Faubel, autonomous systems researcher, media artist; Sarah Kenchington, mechanical orchestrator; Amanda Ross, weaver-musician; Dave Griffiths, live coder, generalist; Giovanni Fanfani, classical philologist; Alex McLean, software artist, live coder; Lara Torres, fashion researcher.

Event: New Modes of Art Writing

My proposed paper, Writing without Writing: Conversation-as-Material, has been accepted as part of the forthcoming one-day symposium, New Modes of Art Writing, taking place at Manchester Metropolitan University, 10 November 2017.

“To encounter is to be turned, whether for a moment or for life; to encounter is always in part not to know, to be a little or to be very lost; to encounter is to surrender something of ones self, willing or otherwise….” (Benson & Connors 2014:5) About the event: How do we encounter art through different modes of writing? Interrogating the chiasm of the critical and the creative written voice: Is there a space where creating and experiencing art meets and converges with writing? If so, what is this space? And how might we theorize it? How can we use writing to explore the varied forms of visual arts practices? And how might we incorporate and situate writing within the context of our artistic research, and the wider practices of the arts and humanities? What tensions may arise in this alliance and is it possible that this hybrid form may propose something more than the sum of its parts? We would like to examine how art may incorporate different forms of writing to consider how traditional positions of objectivity and subjectivity can be challenged and whether there are ways of bridging the gap between different writing practices, in order for new forms to emerge. New Modes of Art Writing 2 intends to provide a space where we might rethink writing as a further agency of our creative practice, encouraging exploration of its potential as an artistic form and as a method of critical enquiry.

Abstract: Writing without Writing: Conversation-as-Material
This performative presentation elaborates a mode of art-writing entitled ‘conversation-as-material’ that I have developed through various collaborations as both artistic form and method of critical enquiry. Within this method, conversation is conceived not only for reflecting on practice but also as a generative practice in-and-of-itself, site and material for the construction of inter-subjective and immanent modes of linguistic ‘sense-making’ emerging from the enmeshing of different voices in live exchange. Whilst conversation often provides a verbal-linguistic means for reflecting on artistic research, conversation-as-material re-forms the relation between art and language through its quest for a not-yet-known vocabulary emerging synchronous to the live circumstances that it seeks to articulate. Here, meaning does not exist prior to utterance but rather is co-produced through the dialogic process itself, with recorded dialogue transcribed and distilled so as to reveal an emergent infra-personal textual poetics; excavation of language fragments through a form of ‘writing-without-writing’. Arguably, conversational transcript unfolds with a different textual texture or vitality contour to conventional writing; its cadence or rhythmic pacing – its pitch and intonation, the tempo of speech – involves the embodied rise and fall of inflection and emphasis, excited acceleration, hesitation and deliberation, syncopation, sentence incompletion, syllabic glides and slurs. Yet, rather than simply a dialogic archive, conversation-as-material considers the transcript as aesthetic material for playful appropriation and reworking, blurring the distinction between artistic production and reflection. My presentation brings performative examples from my own collaborative practice into dialogue with the conceptual work of Brian Massumi, Daniel Stern and poetic-philosophical writing of Hélène Cixous to reflect on the immanent quality of coming-into-language, of conversation as an aesthetic, art-writing practice.


Choreo-graphic Figures: Performance Lecture & Workshop

12 November 2017
Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London
Independent Dance Workshop
On Sunday 12 November 2017 Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line will give a one day workshop (11:00 - 17:00) hosted by Independent Dance at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London, UK. Key researchers Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil ask: How can we develop systems of notation for identifying, marking and communicating the barely perceptible micro-movements at the cusp of awareness? How can we communicate the instability and mutability of the flows and forces within artistic practice, without ‘fixing’ that which is inherently dynamic and contingent as a literal sign? This workshop seeks out the choreo-graphic traces of translational processes, exploring the shifts of attention and modes of engagement happening at the passage from one medium – writing-drawing-choreography – to another. We will investigate somatic practices and compositional decision-making within a collaborative creative process based on embodied gestures. 

14 November 2017
Crossing Borders Talk
On Tuesday 14 November 2017, 19:00 - 20:30 Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer and Mariella Greil will present a performance lecture at the Crossing Borders Talks in the 2017 series at Independent Dance at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London, UK launching their recent publication Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston, 2017.

Symposia: Choreo-graphic Figures - Deviations from the Line

To mark the launch of the recent artistic research publication, Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line, we will be making a number of performative presentations of our research at various events and symposia including:

9 - 10 June
Choreo-graphic Figures in Zeichen Setzen
A performative presentation of the research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line by Emma Cocker, Nikolaus Gansterer, Mariella Greil in the framework of the symposium "Zeichen Setzen" (9 + 10 June 2017) co-organized by Monika Leisch-Kiesl, KU Linz & Toni Hildebrandt, University Bern; Stephan Grotz & Aloisia Moser, KU Linz; Karin Harrasser, University of Art and Design Linz; Rose Breuss, Anton Bruckner University, Linz.

11 - 13 August
Concluding the five year EU funded project "Life Long Burning" the symposium “What is at work in our works?” in the framework of ImPulsTanz festival Vienna will challenge together with international theoreticians and artists contemporary practices and conditions of production in a political context. The artistic research project Choreo-graphic Figures: Deviations from the Line by Nikolaus Gansterer, Emma Cocker and Mariella Greil will contribute to the symposium with a performance lecture and present their new publication. 


Moving // Dialogues - Modes of Being (Together)

Curated and conceived by choreographer Sara Wookey, Moving // Dialogues: Modes of Being (Together) is a pilot programme and mobile platform that aims to create space and time for moving together and experimenting with forms of dialogue in order to imagine what can become. From 25 - 27 August, 2017 it was hosted by Kitiniras: Artistic Network for Performing Arts in Athens and involved Roderick Schrock, Director of Eyebeam (New York); Rennie Tang, architect and designer (Los Angeles); Emma Cocker, writer-artist (Sheffield/Nottingham, England). The programme consisted of: Moving // mixing and circulating; Improvising // imagination, participation, adaptation; Eating // environments and inter-action; Dialoguing // social interstices, interlocutors and states of encounter; Materialising // making and sharing from doing

*photo credit: Rennie Tang

Research 'convivium' - No Telos

I am currently working with NTU fine art colleagues towards the staging of a research ‘convivium’ entitled No Telos, which is scheduled to take place in Venice this September, as part of a wider academic partnership with the East Midlands 2017 (EM17) Research and Development project at the Venice Biennale. Convivium – pertaining to a feast: a model for being-with, from com - ‘with, together’, and vivere - ‘to live’, vital. We conceive the convivium as a social model for ‘spending time’ together to ‘feast’ on and explore shared research and ideas. The ‘convivium’ is a cross between an artists’ residency and symposium, held over 3 days we will explore and engage with the two separate key themed strands. The event will be held throughout the city, within the biennale, and over convivial communal evening meals.

No Telos
Telos – with its etymological origins in the Greek télos (end), téleios (perfected) and teleîn (fulfillment) – refers to an ultimate object or aim, a specific end or purpose. In teleological terms, the value of action is essentially goal-oriented, determined in relation to achievement and attainment, the event of completion, of finishing, of reaching the designed destination or target. Arguably, through its radical ‘purposeless purpose’, art operates in wilful refusal or subversion of this teleological tendency. The Venice Convivium takes the theme No Telos as its overarching guide, seeking to explore this through various approaches that emphasise the journey of process as a subversive or resistant act; that embrace the potential of open-endedness and unfixity as core principles; that privilege meandering, tarrying, waiting and deviation above finding the quickest path; that favour opening things up rather than reaching a conclusion. The principle of No Telos will be explored through two strands of enquiry that broadly address ideas of process + place respectively, provisionally identified as:
* Process as a subversive act: approached through the complementary practices of ‘doing’ (including ‘dirty practices’ and the rebellion of making, experimentation, play) and ‘not-doing’ (with an emphasis on a certain withdrawal of action through slowness and stillness, contemplation and observation, alongside meditative, durational or even ritualistic practices of attention)
* Place / Under construction: taking the site-specificity of Venice as an external stimulus or context for working ‘in situ’, this strand reflects on the inscription, description and narrativising of space and place, the contingent and provisional stories (histories, conversations, fictions) and [human] traces that collectively constitute and re-constitute the archaeology of locality.   
No Telos members include Andrew Brown, Emma Cocker, Katja Hock, Danica Maier, Andy Pepper, Derek Sprawson. EM17 partners include: New Art Exchange, Nottingham; Quad, Derby; Beacon Art Project, Lincolnshire; 1 Thoresby St., Nottingham. 


Symposium: Doing Deceleration

The Space, Nottingham Contemporary
Tuesday 4 July, 2017
The imperative to ‘do deceleration’ is less a call to ‘slow down’, to withdraw or retreat from the process of production as such. Instead, the invitation is to explore ways in which we might disrupt or dislodge the pressure of acceleration: the ubiquitous demands to do more and more – faster and faster – that arguably underpin our contemporary culture of immediacy and urgency,of 24/7 access and availability, with its privileging ofmultitasking, perpetual readiness and ethos of ‘just-in-time’ production. In one sense, the requirement to do more and more can result in a reality of less and less, the cultivation of superficial engagement overriding the possibility of deep, sustained immersion; diminishing the potential of attention and concentration. How does the art school or even the artists’ studio respond to or alternatively refuse these cultural tendencies? How might the space-time of the studio or residency provide an alternative model for practice, perhaps even offer the conditions of resistance? Less the reactive manifestation ofchrono-phobic anxiety, how might doing deceleration reveal rest and reflection as active components of artistic production, the practice of doing-nothing as complementary rather than oppositional to action? Here, radical deceleration does not involve the retreat towards the promise of a singular (slower) temporality, but rather has the capacity to reveal and bring into relation a plurality of micro-temporal co-incidings. Speakers include: Henk Slager, Mick Wilson, Adrian Heathfield, Finn Janning and Danica Maier. Chaired by Emma Cocker.

Ane Hjort Guttu, Time Passes (still), 2015

Doing Deceleration is a partnership between Nottingham Trent University ‘Summer Lodge’ and Nottingham Contemporary, programmed in conjunction with Exhausted Academies, an exhibition project curated by Visiting Professor Henk Slager (Nottingham Contemporary, 30 June – 5 July 2017). Exhausted Academies asks how might we rethink the relation between artistic research and the art academy, specifically through a critique of the ‘exhausting’ achievement-oriented and instrumentalised tendencies of the contemporary neoliberal institution, and a return to a ‘verticalist’ perspective that ‘makes space’ for attention and concentration; for experiment, novel questions and speculation; for reflexivity, new modes of imagination; for an open-ended form of differential thinking that values not-knowing, the singular, the affective, the transgressive, and the unforeseen.

Journal Article: Penelopean Mêtis and the Weaver-Coder’s Kairos

A PDF of the article can be downloaded here.

Abstract: Drawing on my experience as ‘critical interlocutor’ within the research project Weaving Codes / Coding Weaves, in this article I reflect on the human qualities of attention, cognitive agility and tactical intelligence activated within live coding and ancient weaving with reference to the Ancient Greek concepts of technē, kairos and mêtis. The article explores how the specificity of ‘thinking-in-action’ cultivated within improvisatory live coding relates to the embodied ‘thought-in-motion’ activated whilst working on the loom. Echoing the wider concerns of Weaving Codes / Coding Weaves, an attempt is made to redefine the relation between weave and code by dislodging the dominant utilitarian histories that connect computer and the loom, by instead placing emphasis on the potentially resistant and subversive forms of live thinking-and-knowing cultivated therein. I address the Penelopean poetics of both live coding and ancient weaving, proposing how the combination of kairotic timing and timeliness with the mêtic act of ‘doing-undoing-redoing’ therein offers a subversive alternative to – even critique of – certain utilitarian technological developments (within both coding and weaving) which in privileging efficiency and optimization can delimit creative possibilities, reducing the potential of human intervention and invention in the seizing of opportunity, accident, chance and contingency.