Le Placard: questions of research and transmission

aka Har$
4 min readNov 9, 2021

Freely improvised and non-academic electroacoustic music {as}[by] urban folk[s] ~ part 6

from: Emergence at the frontiers and in fringes & trenches of contemporary music

Apart from their intrinsic artistic interest, the many editions of Le Placard (especially in the period ranging from 1998 to, roughly, 2013), gathering together a variegated international group of artists, took on the rôle of a kind of informal and self-organised colloquium at an European or even global level, frequented by practitioners and experimenters of improvised electronic music. It brought to the fore what we can best interpret as a broad research effort with a real collective dimension (albeit a non-centralized one) that at times gave rise to genuine phenomena of emergence, that is, distributed innovation. There are few technical practices that we can associate with this or that individual creator. Indeed, going beyond individual experiments on traditional techniques such as the design of electronic circuits or software development (we imagine geeks reclusive in their cellars), the informal, anarchic, Placard community was able to construct truly effective instances of knowledge transfer.

This is relatively obvious since the ubiquitous generalization of global interconnection provided by the internet and web tools, but we can also point at several earlier instances, like the “Experimental Musical Instruments” magazine (1985–1999), published and edited by Bart Hopkins, and to which, for example, also Qubais Reed Ghazala was a regular contributor. Above we already mentioned the rôle played by mailing lists in communication and collaboration between artists in the early days of the web. A list like “Analogue Heaven”, where the earliest online messages date back to 1993, in the late 1990s and early 2000s contributed a lot to the dissemination of the very elaborate but largely non-academic technical knowledge of analogue electronic circuitry used for sound production. It is also here that we first come across the free software community, whose decentralized organization corresponds well to the ideas of ​​emerging innovation that are implicitly at work in contexts where, due to artistic practices that generate but infinitesimally small financial stakes, claims of intellectual property are rarely put forward. This lack of financial stakes may also be the reason why the artists’ ego’s here seem to be far less exacerbated than…

aka Har$

is Harold Schellinx, a writer, artist, scientist living, working & roaming Amsterdam & elsewhere (harsmedia.com).