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The memory project

description of work

The memory project:  Description of work

The Memory Project

Five-year research-performance project that began with a commission for the Shared Habitat Festival: Dance & Biology (2002).

Every one of us is constantly being fed information from the environment, and living with information stored from the recent and distant past. How do we process this information? How, and how much, can we consciously remember, learn, and integrate simultaneously? Can we consciously use/manipulate our intuition (is intuition a form of memory)? What role has memory in attaching meaning to abstract activity – and what does the audience do with the information they accumulate as they watch? These are the questions guiding the “Memory Project”.


In the mid-1990’s Maxine Heppner developed a studio practice concerned primarily with the multiple focus techniques needed for performance. In 2002 she began research with neurobiologist Dr. Tim Kennedy of the Montreal Neurological Institute to discover how the knowledge from his advanced microscopic research on cellular memory might bear scientific light on the phenomenological basis of her methods. 

Tim, his lab team and Maxine investigated electrical impulses, synapses, storage and access systems, changes in a person’s physiognomy, increase/decrease of memory capacity, theories about myths, intuition and collective unconscious. 

The Memory Project is an ongoing experiment …
a developing series of ideas. 

Potentially dry and overly complicated, the research gelled when Tim told Maxine a statement by an early neurobiologist who called synaptic actions “protoplasmic kisses”. This was the link they needed to connect the subconscious internal world with our human experience. 


The collaboration yielded a series of ongoing performance laboratories from 2002-2007- experiments linking microbiology, live performance, virtual knowledge (computer-based), inteactive computer interfaces, and the human touch. The experiments were performed in Toronto, Montreal, Singapore, Jakarta, Athens and Tokyo.


The memory project: Credits

Choreographer / Artistic Director

Maxine Heppner 

Concepts and Research

Dr. Tim Kennedy, Maxine Heppner


Jessica Runge
Susan Lee
Louis Laberge-Côté

Takako Segawa


R.W. Stevenson, Rick Sachs, Ellen Band

Videos and design elements

Christos Giotis, Maxine Heppner

Video editors

Maxine Heppner, Motria Sabat

IT artist

Arthur Cormack

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With thanks to Shared Habitat Art and Biology Festival, the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Chalmers Foundation, Series 8:08, Studio 303, Dance Media Japan, Canadian High Commission of Japan, Eniamorofo Dance Company, Athens Months of Dance Festival, Studio 303, Kreativitet Indonesia, Montreal Institute of Neurology/McGill University.

media gallery

The memory project: Media Gallery

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