Thingamajigs Performance Group is the Oakland-based mixed-media group that performs music using found or made materials. With these odd instruments, TPG “combines traditional Eastern sensibilities with modern American technologies and performance practices.” However you describe them, their concerts are different and entertaining. Their 18th season kicks off with a virtual residency beginning tomorrow, July 8, at 7 p.m. PT, hosted by the Berkeley Art Museum/ Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). And it’s oriented, not surprisingly, toward what we learned or relearned last year.
"TPG is primarily an improvising ensemble," says member Dylan Bolles. "We create performance scores in order to shape our collective explorations and give each other interesting problems to solve, musically. Our audiences have an experience of composition in real time. They share the uncertainties and unexpected revelations of a music that only vaguely understands where it is going next. Kind of like all of us."
Tomorrow’s event, “Redline Redefined,” is a conversation with artists about a work-in-progress dealing with the effects of redlining (the practice of denying minorities the ability to purchase property in defined areas). The event is moderated by TPG member and project collaborator Suki O’Kane.
On July 15, Thingamajigs brings together more Bay Area artists to tell stories about their response to the pandemic and how they continued their work in trying circumstances. Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and TMG-associated artists like Kevin Corcoran, Jason Levis and Paige Sorvillo will be featured.
July 25 is dedicated to music of long duration, meaning you’re not expected to sit through the whole thing. Within a Day is a six-hour stream of film and music created to reacquaint the ensemble post-lockdown and features the films of TPG member Keith Evans. Sound of Wave in Channel is a 14-hour work created with poet Stephen Ratcliffe in the theater of BAMPFA and features local musicians, composers, and movement artists.
Finally, July 31 brings a new work from Thingamajigs founder Edward Schocker. Performed by Ensemble PHASE, from South Korea, Self_Less “examines our ‘sense of self’ while questioning the uniformity of these perceived feelings. Incorporating live music, projected and pre-recorded audio of stories from people who have unique neuropsychological experiences, such as Alzheimer’s, out-of-body experiences, and body integrity identity disorder, Self_Less’ mission is to bring awareness of the connections among brain, body, mind, and self.”
Who does this kind of work, except America’s indispensable experimental artists? If we want art to address important issues like these, we have to ask fearless artists like the TPGers to do it. The events are all free and are hosted online at https://bampfa.org/program/virtual/online-events. All events begin at 7 p.m. PT.