English Editorial 2016

Artistic Practices in Acts, Laboratory of Research
(Pratiques Artistiques en Actes, Laboratoire de Recherches)


Directions for use
Line “PaaLabRes Cartography”
Line “Political”
Line “Improvisation”
Line “Artistic Research”
Line “Projects and Action”

mini-Plan PaaLabRes, édition 2016

The 2016 Edition is presented in the form of a subway train map, with a central circular line and four other lines. Each line represents an important aspect of the collective PaaLabRes’ concerns:  PaaLabRes Cartography  (central line),  Political ,  Improvisation ,  Artistic Research  and  Projects and Actions .

Here are the directions for use of the map:

Directions for use

The 2016 Edition is composed of 18 texts (sometimes recorded spoken words, sometimes videos of animated texts). One can access them by clicking on each of the 18 metro stations.

The 2016 Edition is also composed of 72 extracts of artistic objects (audio recordings, videos, images, animated texts) realized by 36 artists. These artistic objects, we call them « Itineraries-Songs » can be found in between the stations of the central line  PaaLabRes Cartograpy . To access them you have to click on one of the stations of the central line and read (or not) the text. On the right side of the text (or underneath the text), there is a map of the this line in blue. To access an Itinerary-Song you have to click on any one of the stations placed on this map. An Itinerary-Song will lead you nicely towards the selected station. Credits appear at the end of the Itinerary-Song with the title and the names of the artists. There are 9 stations on this central line, which results in 72 possibilities of connection between stations.

See the list of the Itineraries-Songs and the list of this Edition’s Contributors.


Line  “PaaLabRes Cartography” 

The central circular line represents the  PaaLabRes Cartograpy . 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.
Daniel Charles, Musiques nomades, Paris : éd. Kimé, 1998, p. 218. Bruce Chatwin, The Songlines, Londres: Cape, 1987.

Thus, in a similar and nomadic way, the group Paalabres is developing conceptual “Sites” and Itineraries-Songs, which seek to organize the passage from one site to the next.

Access to the stations:



Line  “Political” 

One of the principal concerns of the collective is the role of the artist in global society (or eminently localized) and the political character of this positioning. In emphasizing practices over whatever results from them (achieved works), the political nature of the interactions between participants cannot be avoided: the questions relative to the access to practices, to hierarchies, to the participation in a democratic context, to the degree of self-determination of the groups, etc. It is not so much a question of communicating political opinions or of envisioning ways to overthrow  existing structures, but of becoming aware of the political and social nature of any artistic acts, to the extent that they have particular ways of interacting with each other. A “political” line therefore has been created.

In the station « Musique, recherche et politique », a text with small vignettes by Karine Hahn and Nicolas Sidoroff mixes Karine’s research on musical practices in a village in rural France (Drôme) and Nicolas’ research on popular education and its possible applications in the musical domain. Some vignettes, more or less long, more or less anecdotical are intended to resonate-and-ignite-reasoning…

Another station on this line « IO+IOU » is also based on two parallel texts: a text by Ben Boretz, an American composer and scholar, I / O (2001), a comparison within musical practices between “poetics” and “political” concerns. To which another text responds, IOU (2015) written by Jean-Charles François for Boretz’s 80th birthday, takes up the textual elements of the original text, but transforms “poetics” into “poiêsis” and “political” into “praxis”. A recording of the French version of these texts has been made with the voices of Monica Jordan, Nancy François, Dan Haffner and Jean-Charles François. This recording is accompanied by a powerpoint-presentation that animates the two texts while they are spoken. A pdf version is also available in French with the two texts presented on the same page in separate columns. The English original version of this double text has been published in Open Space Magazine (Issue 19/20, fall 2015/spring 2016, p. 419-431). Ben Boretz is one of the founders and editors of Perspectives of New Music since 1963, a research publication centered on contemporary music. He has also developed another publication, Open Space Magazine in which research articles are mixed with poetical or experimental texts and with CD recordings. It was important for us in this first version of this electronic publication to refer to an editorial approach similar to the one we would like to promote.

The “political” line also includes a station « La culture au pluriel »: with a recording of quotations from Michel de Certeau, La culture au pluriel (Paris: Christian Bourgois Editeur, 1980 (1974, 1993), pp. 233, 234, 235, 241), and a slam by Jean-Charles François based on part of de Certeau’s text. Michel de Certeau considered that culture in the plural « endlessly calls for a need to struggle ». The diversity of styles, cultures and artistic categories is one of the important aspects of PaaLabRes interest, which gathers in its midst several musical and artistic expressions (classical music, contemporary music, old instruments, popular music, improvisation, literature, traditional music,…).

Access to the stations:



Line  “Improvisation” 

This line includes a station which crosses the “Political line”: the station « Afterwords », a French translation of George Lewis’ article, “Afterword to "Improvised Music After 1950": The Changing Same”, published in The Other Side of Nowhere, Jazz, Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue, eds. Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble, Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2004, p. 163-172. The original essay, “Improvised Music after 1950” was published in the Black Music Research Journal in 1996 by the Center for Black Music Research – Columbia College, Chicago.

George Lewis is a composer, improvisator and trombonist, professor at Columbia University in New York. He is an important personality in the world of research on improvisation and computer music. Early in his musical life he was associated with the A.A.C.M. (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) in Chicago. The A.A.C.M. was founded in 1965 around the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, and has a long history of being a meeting place for the education and promotion of Afro-American musicians. The A.A.C.M. has encouraged and supported many jazz musicians like Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Chico Freeman, Wadada Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago (Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Famoudou Don Moy and Malachi Favors). George Lewis’ recent opera, Afterword is based on the history of the A.A.C.M (2015). The article included in this edition is centered on the claim that the so-called “experimental music” does not belong only to European art music and the musicans associated with John Cage in America, but can qualify in equal terms the innovative side of the Afro-American musicians during the last 60 years, even though the effective practices might differ substantially between the two groups: on one side (Lewis uses the term “Eurological”) conceptual processes based on writing scores and interpretating them, on the other side (Lewis uses the term “Afrological”) a direct approach to sound production through improvisation (among other things) on instruments or other sound sources.

In March 2017, a new station was created: « The Bridge ». This is a transcript of an encounter organized by Alexandre Pierrepont, on the occasion of the concert of the ensemble The Bridge #4 at the Périscope in Lyon, on Thursday October 6, 2016, between musicians of this group (Julien Desprez, Rob Mazurek) and PaaLabRes musicians (Jean-Charles François, Gilles Laval and Nicolas Sidoroff). The members of the Shore to shore (The Bridge #4) who played in this concert were: Mwata Bowden, Julien Desprez, Matt Lux, Rob Mazurek et Mathieu Sourisseau. Following his research on A.A.C.M., the anthropologist Alexandre Pierrepont organized the Bridge, several ensembles mixing musicians from Chicago and French musicians, touring in the United Stated and in France and producing recordings. During the encounter, the musicians discussed their conceptions of the improvisation practice, the questions of sound creativity in playing instruments, of collective creation, the problems of recording sessions, the confrontation between cultures and musical education. A pdf in English is available in the station.

In October 2019, a new station was created: « Timbre ». It includes the French version of an article by Jean-Charles François already published in English in 2015, with the title “Improvisation, Orality, and Writing Revisited” in Perspectives of New Music (Vol. 53 N°2). The French title is: “Revisiter la question du timbre”. For the author, the question of the immediate sound production is today at the core of improvisation practices. The control over timbre in its minute details belongs essentially to the creativity of the instrumentalist or vocalist. Description or graphic representation (or even digital sampling) of the realities of such sound production practices remains extremely problematical.

Access to stations:



Line  “Artistic Research” 

Reflexive practice, experimentation, tinkering about, often considered as informal activities, are here gathered under the ambitious label of “artistic research”. At the junction between the line “Projects and Actions” and “Artistic Research”, we find the station « The artistic turn ». It contains a summary of the book by Kathleen Coessens, Darla Crispin and Anne Douglas, The Artistic Turn, A Manifesto, published by the Orpheus Institute, Ghent, Belgium. The Orpheus Institute is an international research center devoted to artistic research particularly associated with musical practices. The three authors have worked within the Orpheus Reserach Centre in Music (ORCIM). The preface of the book has been written by Jeremy Cox, general director of the Association Européenne des Conservatoires and ex-dean of the Royal College of Music in London.

In the station « Débat » there is the transcript of an encounter and debate on artistic research. On November 2, 2015, the Research Center of the Cefedem Rhône-Alpes (now: Auvergne Rhône-Alpes) and the Collective PaaLabRes organized a discussion session on questions related to artistic research. The theme of this imaginative and dynamic evening, was based on two questions: how to define, conceive, develop artistic research? And why? On the basis of several texts of reference, issues were debated on this notion of artistic research today in institutions of higher education as well as in informal settings. Many artists carry out some kind of research in their production or educational activities, while staying deliberately silent on its outcome. The function of this debating station is to create a discussion forum with a wide call for contributions on the definitions of artistic research.

Access to the stations:



Line  “Projects and Actions” 

This line should play an important role in the future of the PaaLabRes publication, in order to create a data base rich in experiences and opening the way for comparison between agencies and procedures.

At the station « Gunkanjima », you will find a text by Noémi Lefebvre on a project by Gilles Laval involving Japanese and French musicians. For Gilles Laval, the history of Gunkajima, an island off Nagasaki, linked to issues of energy and ecology, is “a metaphor of a world of short term profits, in which  absurdity runs alongside the forced labor and also certainly the gaiety, surely the carefree life, in any case the resignation or something like that”. Gilles Laval plays electric guitar and develops in Lyon a multitude of experimental projects, he is the head of the Rock department at the ENM of Villeurbanne (Music, danse and drama school). Noémi Lefebvre published recently her third novel and, as a Political Sciences scholar, she carries out research on music and she works at the Cefedem AuRA as head of research. They are both members of PaaLabRes.

Access to the stations:



For this PaaLabRes’ map Edition (2016): list of Contributors and of Itineraries-Songs

Go to the English Global EDITORIAL, to the English “Graphic Scores” EDITORIAL (2017)