This “sharing” of the project Site-Reading – Site Specific Writing and Reading was presented as part of the 12th SAR Conference on Artistic Research of the Society for Artistic Research (CARE|DARE|SHARE) from 7th to 9th April 2021, hosted by mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Presenters: Emma Cocker, Andrea Coyotzi Borja and Lena Séraphin. Soundedit:  Andrea Coyotzi Borja

Live Writing in Public SpaceAlexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus, Sepideh Karami, Vidha Saumya and Cocker, Coyotzi Borja & Séraphin.


ABSTRACT: Site-Reading – Site Specific Writing and Reading


Initiated by Emma Cocker and Lena Séraphin, Site-Reading dares to conceive writing, reading and listening as aesthetic research practices, caring for their inter-subjective potential, whilst asking how shared spaces are constructed in/by/with text. Invited writers/artistic researchers make written observations of a public site for a time-bound period, collaborating in a shared action, though geographically apart. The performativity of this practice redefines the solitary act of writing, introducing collective live-writing in a public space as a literary genre. Reading the texts aloud together creates a liminal space, through the intermingling of different voices, places and approaches to writing/reading. Where are you when you listen — especially if you don’t grasp the language? Does Site-Reading affirm a shared space — what does it look or feel like?


We dare to test out a Site-Reading research experiment for the SAR conference, comprising 2 related phases: Phase 1: Prior to the conference, a group of invited international writers/artists (including Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Alexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus, Sepideh Karami, Vidha Saumya, Cocker and Séraphin) will engage in live-writing in public space, each observing/writing a public site simultaneously for a given period, using specified constraints that challenge writing to bridge the cerebral and corporeal – e.g. avoid adjectives or notate when bodily perception shifts to storytelling. Phase 2: Within the conference presentation, the written texts will be shared as a site-reading intermingling different voices, exploring the potential of both inter-locationality and inter-subjectivity emerging therein. Since the writing can be in any chosen language, the performative reading pays respect to a shared multilingual space, emphasising the tonal and acoustic qualities of spoken language as much as the meaning-sense of words. Whilst aware of language limitations and abilities, we argue that challenging understanding involves caring for communication and reciprocity – even if we lack exact translations. Silences and overlaps can occur; misunderstandings can happen, repetitions can take place. Séraphin developed collective live-writing in public space through previous writing experiments e.g. Omspelning-Replay-Uusintaotto-Repetición (2017), a multilingual book that involved 9 writers in Finland and Wording – Collaborative Writing in Public Space (Research Pavilion #3, Venice, 2019) a workshop involving 50 writers from Medellín to Venice to Stockholm observing or ‘wording’ public space. Cocker’s research focuses on reading as an aesthetic practice. This proposal for SAR explores the potential for developing shared research, for exploring the relational aspects of both writing and reading site-specific texts, building on resonances and connections emerging through shared involvement in the Society of Artistic Research Special Interest Group on Language-based Artistic Research. See here.



PART I: Project Frame and Collective Writing Exercise


ZOOM CHAT in response to the writing exercise

14:18:12  For the presentation Site-Reading, we invite you to use headphones if you have them. You will also be invited to engage in a very short writing exercise so please have writing materials to hand if you would like to engage.\

14:40:14  For anyone just joining, we are engaging in a writing task, outlined on the screen.\

{Score and instructions: We would like to invite you to one of the writing scores as a way to tune into soundscapes and listening. Select any writing material. You can write in any or in many languages.

I will give an audible sign for both starting and stopping. The score is: For the next 3 minutes make notes of what you hear. Let’s start! Let’s stop! Now, have a look at your writing and select 5 words that you find appealing and share them in the chat. Please continue sharing words in the chat while they are being read. Let’s take a moment to let the words reverberate.}

14:42:02  ringing in ears, wind blowing\

14:42:22  my sleeve rubbing / not intelligible\

14:42:25  tic-tact, gggggg, friction, speech, clicking\

14:42:38  Pfeifende Schrille\

14:42:40  Roaring, bending, blankness, irritant, understanding\

14:42:40  the noise of the pencil touching the paper\

14:42:40  Hissing\

14:42:45  Brummendes Blubbern\

14:42:46  silence, humming, breathing, \

14:42:48  Traffic, a distant car\

14:42:49  creak, creak, laughing, muffled, clatter\

14:42:49  Muted, Easter egg, tinnitus, trees\

14:42:49  voices, cars\

14:42:50  1. headphones\

14:42:50  distant, attached, tongue, bending, key\

14:42:51  Clamouring\




            Laborious \

14:42:52  Blood beating, bins, click, in out\

14:42:55  tires on asphalt\

14:42:58  Türenschlagen\

14:42:59  Druckwellen / Knochengerüst / kreischt / Nachbarskinder / Tinnitus\

14:42:59  Sento,vento,stoffa,niente,pagina\

14:42:59  2.breaking\

14:43:00  Someone, above, distance, hear, breath\

14:43:05  3. metal\

14:43:05  breathing, construction work, circular saw, words i read, vocals and consonants\

14:43:06  Silence Birds outside Still birds\

14:43:08  footsteps...my...the...which...foot...\

14:43:08  inner ear, chair, pencil, wood, echo of the space\

14:43:09  A marker , stomach\

14:43:09  4. jatkuu\

14:43:10  Scratching sound of pen on paper\

14:43:15  Conference\

14:43:15  machine-whirr, tinnitus ringing incessantly, hootenanny\

14:43:15  5. shouuuuuuuuuuuu\

14:43:16  Ininää, pattereiden mietoa kohinaa, naksahdus viereisestä huoneesta, en mitään, tuolin natinaa\

14:43:17  zugeschlagen\





14:43:19  Fingers\

14:43:22  muzzled knock\

14:43:25  buzz, silence, wool, drag, car\

14:43:31  Crackling and high pitched resonances\

14:43:35  kookas, kahden, minuun, autiota, lämpöä

14:43:38  Ulisee, kiljuvat, kynä, tinnitus, korvakäytävissä

14:43:40  cleck said the wood in the fire place\

14:43:42  a bird\

14:43:43  crunching body movements\

14:43:44  fridge buzzing\

14:43:44  more traffic\

14:43:53  selecting vertically across the words- \voices maybe beating sound shakes\

14:43:56  moving others ticking buttons similar\

14:43:59  hell machines ; engines ; holes ; modern slaves ; sibilating\

14:44:01  partners low voice lecturing\

14:44:02  keyboard\

14:44:04  Tallerkenen\





14:44:05  vacuum cleaning, my son waking up\

14:44:05  voice of a child\

14:44:06  Hmmmmmmmm - blowing - air - splashing - footsteps\

14:44:22  Daughter exits room\

14:44:24  from the roof proppp proppp\

14:44:33  breeze, rattle, gravel, crows [in unison], finger tip on keyboard\

14:44:36  knister\

14:44:38  geater\

14:44:45  ...t..cross, perpendicular, nib, flickering,  muffled\

14:44:59  this house talks\

14:45:16  i hear the sun but..\

14:45:18  scrapy footsteps, distanced\

14:45:36  not in my house\

14:45:42  my stomach vulcains\

14:45:55  motors\


winter tires on asphalt


windbreaker fabric on trousers when someone is walking\

14:46:34  wind\

14:46:43  table cracking\

14:46:59  difference dotted I, full stop\

14:47:20  the creck creck of the old wooden small table that I cut the legs of\



PART II: Collective Site-Reading

Read texts by: Emma Cocker, Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Alexander Damianisch, Cordula Daus, Sepideh Karami, Vidha Saumya, Lena Séraphin

Sound edited by: Andrea Coyotzi Borja


PART III: Questions leading into Discussion (typed live, video without sound)


ZOOM CHAT in response to the questions

15:11:01 A quick observation - with the listening & writing score you did with us, sharing the sounds of our environment here in the chat, you kind of temporarily ”unmuted our mics” here through writing as a medium :) I really enjoyed that!\

15:11:15  I am curious about the relationship between writing, reading, reciting and listening from your point of view, how are the different and inter-related in this project?\

15:12:34  Someone mentioned enjoying the constraint of the instruction- would one of you say how Perec influenced your the construction of your constraints?\

15:14:50  I see it as an offer (to note down the sounds for three minutes) / just a comment\

15:17:39  I see Scores as invitations to relation more than ”orders”

15:18:40  I always find my creativity soars having some kind of prompt or score. Doesn't have to feel restrictive. I see it more like Jazz - something to riff off. \

15:21:33 Why do you think embodied and phenomonological practices are being increasingly prevalant? \

15:22:24  Fully aware of this willful acceptance of submitting to a score- but that is exactly the play with the bondage - Ludic Society magazines and Ludic Ouvroirs were talking this up - but it is a fact - the we play with the rules!\

15:22:38 Might this idea of the non-i be something like the middle voice Isabelle Stengers refers to to be sensitive to some other agency?\

15:23:52  It's really interesting considering written scores as opening up space/s as shared experience - do you see these these ’exercises’ as performative - in the sense they’re creating an ’active’ space…. kind of thinking loosely around Austin’s ’performative utterance’?

15:23:53 Maybe you could refer to the act of editing, publishing and how far scores have been present here.\

15:24:40 Writing is a way to tackle the given, transform it and understand it anew and to unwrite us, to untie the knot of ourselves\

These questions have been anonymised, however if you wish to contact any of the responders, please do contact us.