English : Editorial

PaaLabRes : Artistic Practices in Acts, Laboratory of Research

Welcome on the first version of the digital space PaaLabRes.

PaaLabRes (Pratiques Artistiques en Actes, Laboratoire de Recherches or Artistic Practices in Acts, Research Laboratory) is a musicians’ collective in existence since 2011, which attempts to define the outlines of artistic research led by the practitioners themselves, concerning artistic expressions that do not result in definitive works. In an initial text[1], the collective was defined in the following manner:

“Electronic technologies created the conditions for the emergence of a great diversity of artistic practices, by  allowing considerable access to information about the world and its history. Many practices differentiate themselves both from institutions representing sacred traditions and from commercial cultural industries, in order to invent everyday – very often in a collective manner – their own “art of doing”[2]. We will call these artistic practices “nomadic[3] and transverse”, because they tend to refuse to be fixed in definitive works by continuously reworking matters and techniques according to particular situations, and they tend also to refuse any aesthetic labels (or labels connected to professional identities) by tinkering on an everyday basis along transverse paths.”

PaaLabRes objective is to bring together in action, reflection and research, diverse practices that cannot be closely identified with the definitively fixed patrimonial art forms, nor with the ones imposed by cultural industries. These practices often open ways to collective creation, to improvisation, and to collaborative projects between the arts, including other interactive forms of production.

Questioning the autonomy of art with respect to society, they are grounded in everyday interactions and in contexts that mix art with sociology, philosophy, in transmission activities and education. Because of these features, these practices remain unstable and variable; they are really nomadic and transversal.

The aim of  PaaLabRes is to mix different media in order to develop original art/research facilitated by Internet communication technology. The objectives are to bridge the gaps between a) legitimate research articles and more experimental or poetical texts and more simple reflective contributions; b) artistic productions and artistic education, c) artistic concerns and societal or political questions; d) a very large diversity of artistic categories, styles or fields. The site will be presented in the form of a subway train map, with a central circular line and several other lines.

The central circular line represents the « PaaLabRes Cartography (Cartographie PaaLabRes) ». The project of this particular line is based on nine parts (stations) representing the major concepts of the collective PaaLabRes: « Nomadic », « Transversal », « Experimental », « Discipline », « Praxis », « Music to be made », « Cultural Operations », « Orality », « Ecology of Practices ». The reader of the cartography chooses one of these concepts, then, in selecting a second one, an Itinerary-Song appears that links the first concept to related poetry, audio or video sequence, spoken words, music, or graphics,..) There are seventy-two Itineraries-Songs in all. This idea is inspired by the practice of Australian aborigines. The philosopher Daniel Charles opens his chapter on « Nomadic Music » (citing Bruce Chatwin) by a description of traditional Aboriginal practices, which consist in connecting their songs or poetry to itineraries from one location to another:

Australia is covered by a network of tracks, which make it virtually (…) a musical score. These tracks are not traced on the ground like paths or trails, they remain invisible to strangers. There are landmarks – a rock, a hill, a water point, a sand bank… – which are sacred sites, linked to as many mythological episodes, and the song or poem leads from one site to the next, measuring the distance that separates them. The song is itinerary and the itinerary the song.

Thus, in a similar and nomadic way, the group Paalabres is developing  conceptual « sites » and  itinerary-songs, which seek to organize the passage from one site to the next.

Other subway lines will represent specific articles or contributions (see Paarcours for details).

  • « Improvisation » with a French translation of George Lewis’s « Afterword to “Improvised Music after 1950” ».
  • « Political (Politique) » with a double contribution by Karine Hahn and Nicolas Sidoroff on their current research on political issues connected with musical practices [Music, research and politique]; a double contribution [IO+IOU] by Benjamin Boretz “I / O” and Jean-Charles François “IOU” (to be published in English in Open Space Magazine); a slam by Jean-Charles François on “Culture in the Plural” inspired by texts by Michel de Certeau.
  • « Artistic research (Recherche artistique) » with a review by Jean-Charles François of the book written by Kathleen Coessens, Darla Crispin et Anne Douglas, The Artistic Turn, A Manifesto; and the station “débat”, a report on a debate organized in November 2015 by PaaLabRes on the issues of artistic research.
  • « Projects and actions (Compte-rendu de pratique) », with an article by Noémi Lefebvre on the musical group Gunkanjima, a particular project led by one of the PaaLabRes members, the electric guitarist Gilles Laval.

In the future other lines will be added as needed.

The PaaLabRes collective hopes that the formula of digital space, which is in the process of being developed will be able to host varied contributions, from original hybrid artistic forms to fundamental reflections on today’s artistic practices. It is very important to us to be able to present a diversity in the domains of artistic production, of cultural expressions, of different ways to present research, and of mixing medias. Our project is to develop a dialog between the detachment of formal research and the lightness of discourses without objects, passing through the polemist’s irony, and the vigor of political debates. What is at stake is the place of artistic practices in the complicated context of our multiple society, in three strongly interactive areas: practices, teaching/learning, research, with their particular systemic approaches.

The collective PaaLabRes — 2016
Samuel Chagnard, Jean-Charles François, Laurent Grappe,
Karine Hahn, Gilles Laval, Noémi Lefebvre,
Pascal Pariaud, Nicolas Sidoroff, Gérald Venturi.


[1] See « 1. Paalabres. Projets de Pratiques Artistiques en Actes, Laboratoire de Recherche », in Revue&Corrigée N°95, March 2013.

[2] See Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall, University of California Press, Berkeley 1984.

[3] See Daniel Charles, Musiques nomades, Paris : Editions Kimé, 1998.