Written and directed by Aditya Mandayam
Produced by Emilia Zalewska
Thingamajig is loosely inspired by The Princes of Serendip, a Renaissance-era Persian fairy tale whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents & sagacity, of things they were not in quest of”. Following a long & tumultuous journey from Sufi mystic Amir Khusrau’s epic Hasht-Bihisht, Serendip was eventually translated into English via Arabic, Greek, Latin, Italian, & French. Serendip is the Perso-Arabic name for Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
The story has become known in the English-speaking world as the source of the word serendipity, coined by Horace Walpole because of his recollection of the part of the “silly fairy tale” in which the three princes by “accidents & sagacity” discern the nature of a lost camel. Thingamajig is vernacular English for “something that is hard to classify or whose name is unknown or forgotten”.
Following Brud’s recent foray into the kino-teatr, Thingamajig is structured as a series of vignettes shot with diﬀerent theatrical and cinematic techniques. Refer-encing the history of the mediated image, these scenes are loosely intercalated into a frame story.
Shot with Facebook 360 Surround, here is the latest incarnation of the panop-ticon: inverted, irrumated, sleek, omniscient, & ominous. Early examples are the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata, Ramayana, Vishnu Sarma’s Panchatantra, Syntipas’s The Seven Wise Masters, and the fable collections Hitopadesha and Vikram and The Vampire. Western examples include the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), The Decameron, and Canterbury Tales.
Thingamajig further entangles characters from the birth of Dada: the many personalities circling Cafe Zurich at the start of the First World War. Tristan Tsara, James Joyce, and Vladimir Lenin make an appearance, as well as Leon Trotsky in a memorable sex scene. Parroting the choreography of Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1981-1984), we see four beaming masked figures walking about willy-nilly.