March 7, 2007 - Arts Council England - ‘If the route’: The Great Learning of London [A Taxi Opera]
March 7, 2007

‘If the route’: The Great Learning of London [A Taxi Opera]

Cab Rank at Heathrow, Phil Phillips, Circa 1970.

If the route: The Great Learning of London [A Taxi Opera]
The live performance:
Studio Voltaire, Friday 9th March
at 7.30pm. The radio works:
104.4 Resonance Fm, Wednesdays 9pm 14th of March – 25th April 2007

www.thegreatlearning.org

Wednesday 14th March 9pm Beatrice Gibson and Jamie McCarthy
Wednesday 21st March 9pm Celine Condorelli
Wednesday 28th March 9pm Simon Phillips
Wednesday 04th April 9pm Eyal Weizman in collaboration with Peter Mörtenböck & Helge Mooshammer (Networked Cultures)
Wednesday 11th April 9pm Tom McCarthy (International Necronautical Society)
Wednesday 18th April 9pm Kaffe Matthews
Wednesday 25th April 9pm Beatrice Gibson and Jamie McCarthy

A collaboration between artist Beatrice Gibson and musician Jamie McCarthy, If the Route: The Great Learning of London is a live performance and radio work in seven parts based on The Knowledge (the infamous London cabbie navigation system and mnemonic device students must master in order to become licensed cabbies) .
The Performance.
The live performance of the ‘if the route’ has been developed collaboratively with 10 students from Knowledge Point and four improvising string players.

A complex and fascinating mathematics of the everyday, The Knowledge involves learning 320 routes or runs mapped within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Traveling approximately 26,000 miles across the city on Honda C90′s, knowledge students memorize a total of 30,000 streets. Calling over entails that after the completion of the days run[s], students must call them out, reciting them out loud. Partners form to call over runs to one another, using recital and repetition as a means to remember the city. Knowledge Point on Caledonian road, one of several taxi universities students may attend and whose curriculum includes a series of mnemonic devices to aid in their endeavor, is filled with pairs of men and increasingly the odd woman aurally reciting sets of directions to one another. Entering it is to be surrounded by the city fragmented and auralized into sets of sentences and street names, a veritable symphony performing the city as text .

Using the technique of calling over as its principle sound source, the performance of if the route celebrates and elaborates this formidable system and poetic by re-contextualizing it within in the space of the gallery. Modeled on paragraph seven of Cardew’s original score, Gibson and McCarthy’s compositional structure emphasizes the practice of calling over as an ongoing process of repetition, memorization, rehearsal and navigation, articulated in a networked and non heirarchical manner.
The Score.
If the Route takes it title from The Great Learning, the well known score by the radical and experimental 60s composer and musician Cornelius Cardew. Informed by similar developments and ideals in the Fluxus movement and realized around the same period, Cardews work was rooted in belief of the democratic potential of music as a social platform, his scores often intended for implementation by untrained musician-performers. Cardews version of the Great Learning was a score in seven paragraphs, rooted in and acoustically generated by the Confucian text of the same name. Playing on the title of the great learning as it relates to The Knowledge and its own system of learning, and borrowing from the methodology, structure and political intent of Cardews score, Gibson and McCarthy have used both aural and non aural research into the knowledge as the generative principle behind composition. The score for ‘if the route’ provides the basis for both realization of live performance and the radio works.
The Radio Works.
Mirroring the seven paragraphs of Cardews score, the radio piece comprises seven parts and takes place over seven weeks. In keeping with the spirit of Cardew and the political gesture of experimental composition in general, seven practitioners from varying fields and disciplines have been commissioned by Gibson and McCarthy to use and translate the score for radio according to their own personal and varying interpretations.

Participants include; artist and architect Celine Condorelli, artist Beatrice Gibson, musician and composer Kaffe Matthews, musician Jamie McCarthy, artist and writer, Tom McCarthy, poet and cabbie, Simon Phillips, and architect and theorist, Eyal Weizman in collaboration with Peter Mörtenböck & Helge Mooshammer (Networked Cultures)

‘If the Route:’ The Great Learning of London is generously supported by Arts Council England. Partnered by Studio Voltaire and Resonance FM.

With special thanks to London Contemporary Dance School at The Place.

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