• Emma Cocker Nottingham Trent University



Conversation-as-material is a language-based artistic research practice for attempting to speak from within the experience of collaborative artistic exploration, a linguistic practice attentive to the lived experience of aesthetic co-creation. The practice of conversation-as-material, which forms the basis of this article, has evolved through tentative exploration of the questions: How can the shared act of conversation bring into reflective awareness the live and lived, yet often hidden or undisclosed, experience of artistic practice and process, especially within collaboration? How can the event of conversation be developed as an artistic research practice for attempting to give tangibility, whilst also remaining in fidelity, to the pre-reflective aspects of this lived experience? Considered less as a means for talking about, conversation-as-material may be understood as a practice for inviting immanent, inter-subjective modes of verbal-linguistic sense-making emerging through different voices enmeshed in live exchange. Conversation — from con- meaning ‘with, together’ and versare, ‘to turn, bend’; or else, from conversare — ‘to turn about, to turn about with’. Conversation-as-material has emerged as a practice of collaborative writing, which unfolds through the interplay of different voices ‘turning about’ together in conversation. In this sense, the practice can be differentiated from that of interview — for in the practice of conversation-as-material there is no researcher/researched dichotomy. Within the practice, an attempt is made to develop an approach to writing that finds expression first through verbal conversation, which is then subsequently distilled, even densified, towards poetic text. Conversation-as-material involves the gradual revelation of an artistic-poetic, perhaps even phenomenological, mode of emergent writing for speaking from the experience of collaborative co-creation, where linguistic content is not already known in advance, but rather emerges in and through the lived working-with of language. The practice of conversation-as-material thus comprises a quadripartite process of conversation, transcription, distillation, and presentation, where each part involves the activation of a particular aesthetic or poetic mode of attention, perhaps even a specific phenomenological attitude or disposition.