a durational performance with poet Stephen Ratcliffe
Thingamajigs Performance Group is in a multi-year collaboration with poet Stephen Ratcliffe to create large scale multimedia works, each based on 1,000 of Stephen’s poems, which he writes one at a time for 1,000 days. Performing the poems takes approximately 14 hours, and features Stephen reading each poem, which TPG then interprets as the musical score.
The next performance of this collaboration, Continuum, will feature Thingamajigs Performance Group with performing artists Rae Diamond (composer and director of the Long Tone Choir) and Shinichi Iova-Koga (artistic director of the movement theater ensembleinkBoat). Rae and Shinichi bring unique perspectives to durational creative practice, creating works built upon the exquisite control of breath and body in motion.
The first piece of this collaboration, Human/Nature, premiered at UC Davis in 2008; the second piece, Remarks on Color/Sound, was staged at Headlands Center for the Arts in 2010. The third work, Temporality, premiered in May 2012 and was remounted in the Mills College Art Gallery in February 2013.
goal of the piece
Continuum narrates the process by which what we observe, and what we make of such observations, enter a relationship by way of language and sound. It is the relation between things seen/observed in the world and how such things might be made (transcribed/transformed) as works of art. Similarly, all works in this trilogy invite a kind of assessment of the technological, the found and the made, the intentional and the unintentional, the human and the natural – by placing these potentials alongside each other and simply exploring them.
the strategy: living exhibit
Thingamajigs will install Continuum and transform an abandoned military bunker into what we are calling a “living exhibit”. The “living” refers to the performance aspect: Stephen Ratcliffe at his desk, who will be reading each of his 1,000 poems, and the Thingamajigs Performance Group, whose members will be moving within the space and creating a sonic score. The “exhibit” refers to the images (whether visual or other) that are produced from these actions, and the extended duration of time it takes for all these actions to unfold.
how audiences interact
Audience members are welcome to come and go at will, just as if they were viewing art at a museum or gallery. Like the other duration works in our collaboration with Stephen Ratcliffe,Continuum slowly changes and fluxes within its 14-hour duration, and the audience is invited to sit/walk/sleep within or around the events that are unfolding in the space. In performances of the first two works in the trilogy, the public stayed as little as five minutes, while others stayed as long as five hours.
why we do it
Thingamajigs is interested in testing the perceptions and labels of musical ‘composition’ and ‘performance’. We are interested in spending years to develop and create work in a collaborative manner, and we are interested in pushing the limits of what we think of as human nature. Our extended works are the outcome of these investigations, and the public event/exchange is our motivation to reach these lengths. We aim to have a high impact on the local community of all ages by offering them a rare extended performance that invites them to investigate time and temporality; offers them a space to sit, move, and reflect; and gives the chance to be part of an exchange that is intended to change each participant who spends time in the space.