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Mika Tajima, Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care), 3, 2014, Spray enamel, thermoformed acrylic, aluminum, 78 x 78 x 33 inches, (198.1 x 198.1 x 83.8 centimeters) © Mika Tajima

Mika Tajima


Photo: Matt Dutile

b. 1975, Los Angeles

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At the heart of Mika Tajima’s multidisciplinary practice, which spans performance, sculpture, painting, and new media installation is a profound inquiry into the conditions of human agency and self-determinacy in built and virtual spaces.

Tracing modernist architecture and design from the Industrial Revolution to the sharing economy, Tajima draws on philosopher Hannah Arendt’s idea of a social space—by which living things make their appearance to probe the visibility of performance, control, and freedom—to investigate how different digital and aesthetic technologies manifest as sensorial and psychic experiences.

Tajima’s early investigation into the regulatory and relational structures of human bodies in built environments would eventually lead to her explorations into the role of human labor in industrial and digital automation. Negative Entropy (2010–present), one of Tajima’s best-known series, comprises abstract woven portraits of field recordings of production noise at industrial textile factories and data centers, in addition to human voices. These portraits are converted into digital spectrogram images, which are then translated into a pattern by a weaver who creates a Jacquard fabric of it. This series has extended to biotech companies producing medical devices and labs developing aneutronic fusion power.

Tajima has also explored psycho-geographic data to measure the collective sentiment of specific geographic regions affected by political events and market trends in real-time. This interest in mood as material can be traced to Tajima’s Art d’Ameublement (2011–present) series, which encompasses paintings made from vacuum-formed transparent shells reverse-sprayed in a vibrant gradient of acrylic colors. Each work in this series, subtitled by a geographic location as a nod to composer Erik Satie’s “furniture music,” is meant to recede into the periphery, like wallpaper. These imaginary associations have extended to Tajima’s use of algorithms to measure real-time sentiments impacted by the price fluctuation of gold in Meridian (Gold) (2016) and through Twitter feeds corresponding to political events in Human Synth (Los Angeles) (2019)—both works are illuminated by plumes of vapor or smoke. Her work examines the ways that, as data is increasingly customized, the boundaries of agency, identity, and privacy are obscured.

Tajima first used jet nozzles in Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care) (2014–present), a series that appropriated hot tubs built to conform to the body as a form of hydrotherapy. The artist displayed these works upright in a color gradient on vacuum-formed materials—akin to her Art d’Ameublement paintings—that point to regulated modes of communal leisure. Tajima has taken this further in her Pranayama (2017–present) sculptures, which are shaped by indexical impressions of the body on carved wood, marble, or rose quartz and punctured with bronze jet nozzle holes that correlate with pressure points, opening up unmediated flows of breath and energy as counterpoints.

Text by Mika Yoshitake, Independent Curator

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Mika Tajima, Art d'Ameublement, (Onamu), 2021, Spray acrylic, thermoformed PETG, 90 x 65 inches, (228.6 x 165.1 centimeters), Photography by Charles Benton, New York © Mika Tajima

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Mika Tajima, Art d'Ameublement, (Martin Vaz), 2021, Spray acrylic, thermoformed PETG, 90 x 65 inches, (228.6 x 165.1 centimeters), Photography by Charles Benton, New York © Mika Tajima


Mika Tajima, Human Synth (Los Angeles), 2019, Custom predictive sentiment analysis program, gaming engine, Alienware VR PC, Twitter API; video, color; endless duration, Dimensions variable , Edition 2 of 3, Photography by Flying Studio, Los Angeles © Mika Tajima

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Mika Tajima, Negative Entropy (Kurozumikyo Shinto Shrine, Dawn Meditation, Red, Double), 2019, Polyester, nylon, rayon, acrylic, wool, wool acoustic baffling felt, and wood, 55 x 43 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (139.7 x 110.5 x 6 centimeters), Photography by Charles Benton, New York © Mika Tajima


Mika Tajima, Negative Entropy (Digital Ocean NYC2, 4U NAS Unit, Fluorescent Green, Hex), 2020, Cotton, wool acoustic baffling felt, and wood, 54 x 108 inches (137.2 x 274.3 centimeters), Photography by Charles Benton, New York © Mika Tajima

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Mika Tajima, Anima 16, 2021, Glass, cast bronze jet nozzles, 19 x 17 x 10 inches (48.3 x 43.2 x 25.4 centimeters), Photography by Charles Benton, New York © Mika Tajima

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Mika Tajima, Pranayama (Monolith G, Rose Quartz), 2021, Rose quartz, cast bronze jet nozzles, 45 x 57 x 40 inches (114.3 x 144.8 x 101.6 centimeters), Photography by Flying Studio, Los Angeles © Mika Tajima