Motor Tapes

Sat, June 8, 2024
1–4 pm

Floor 3, Theater

Saturday, June 8 at 1 pm and 4 pm

As part of the performance program organized by guest curator Taja Cheek for Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing, Sarah Hennies presents Motor Tapes, a one-hour work for a large ensemble. Taking its name from neuroscientist Rodolfo Llinás’s characterization of the human brain as containing innumerable “tape loops” that run continuously within the mind, Motor Tapes is composed of densely overlapping patterns of sound, with musicians representing synapses that both fire independently and work together to achieve complex activities. Llinás’s description of this phenomena is strikingly musical: “The activity in the basal ganglia is running all the time, playing motor patterns and snippets of motor patterns amongst and between themselves […] they seem to act as a continuous, random, motor pattern noise generator.” “I am interested in the motor tapes theory,” Hennies has said, “because it suggests that alongside lived experience there is a mysterious biological basis for our inclinations, talents and identities.”

Motor Tapes will be performed by Lauren Cauley, Laura Cocks, David Friend, Madison Greenstone, Judith Hamann, Tristan Kasten-Krause, Hannah Levinson, Christopher McIntyre, Erin Rogers, Brendon Randall-Myers, Bill Solomon, and Nate Wooley.

Sarah Hennies (she/her; born 1979 in Louisville, KY; lives and works in Red Hook, NY) is a composer based in Upstate New York whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer and trans identity, psychoacoustics, and the social and neurological conditions underlying creative thought. She is primarily a composer of acoustic ensemble music, but is also active in improvisation, film, and performance art. She presents her work internationally as both a composer and percussionist with notable performances at MoMA PS1 (New York), Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), Warsaw Autumn, Ruhrtriennale (Essen), Archipel Festival (Geneva), Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Time:Spans (New York), and the Edition Festival (Stockholm). As a composer, she has received commissions across a wide array of performers and ensembles including Bearthoven, Bent Duo, Claire Chase, Ensemble Dedalus, Mivos String Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Nate Wooley, and Yarn/Wire.

She is the recipient of a 2024 United States Artists Fellowship, a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, and a 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received additional support from the Fromm Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New Music USA, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Creative Work Fund.

The Susan and John Hess Family Theater is equipped with an induction loop and infrared assistive listening system. Accessible seating is available.

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Motor Tapes was commissioned by GMEA - Centre National de Création Musicale d’Albi-Tarn and premiered by Ensemble Dedalus at the Darmstadt Summer Course in August 2023