Danica Maier, Emma Cocker

No Telos: Tactics of Affirmative Uncertainty

How can artistic research operate alternatively to the language of capitalism, sports and warfare (modeled on economic efficiency/gain, competition/success, target-hitting/strategic machination)? How can artistic research practices that are non-teleological, atelic or autotelic intervene in and unsettle the outcome-motivated and achievement-driven tendencies of contemporary culture, by cultivating shared practices of experiential becoming and collective being-doing?

Reflecting on No Telos (2016>) — a project exploring the critical role of uncertainty, disorientation and not knowing within artistic research-practice — we ask: How can we shift emphasis from goal-oriented productivity towards experimental forms of process-led exploration, subversive playfulness and wilful irresolution? Can we differentiate affirming and debilitating forms of uncertainty and open-endedness, between a not knowing that vectors towards generative exploration and that which paralyses, creates stasis? What role has the practising of creative uncertainty within the uncertain conditions of contemporary life? Towards an ethics of uncertainty — how can an encounter with the unfamiliar and strange(r) operate as a micro-political, ethico-aesthetic practice? The rhetoric of art practice, pedagogy and research often foregrounds not knowing, uncertainty and getting lost — yet how can such principles be taught or practised?

Against the strategic power dynamics of institutionalised research, No Telos embraces Michel de Certeau’s advocacy of everyday ‘tactics’ that invigorate the experiential quality of life lived — aesthetic practices of reading, looking, walking, talking, eating, being-with. Invoking the Latin etymology of ‘mirror’ — mirare: to observe, contemplate, look at, wonder — we ask: How can artistic research not only mirror back (reflect, reveal) the conditions of life as-is, but also reactivate critical curiosity (Freire), re-engage a capacity for collective attention and imagination? 

Click here to view the remains of this cancelled presentation on Research Catalogue

Emma Cocker is a writer-artist + Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University, whose research focuses on the process of artistic exploration and the performing of ‘thinking-in-action’ emerging therein.

Danica Maier is an American born artist living and working in Lincolnshire, UK. She has a BFA & MFA in Painting and MA in Textiles. Her practice uses site-specific installation, drawing and objects to explore expectations, disrupted repetition, and line.