Mika Tajima on Her Current Solo at Protocinema

Arts & CultureJune 18, 2016
Mika Tajima on Her Current Solo at Protocinema
Can you tell us more about your thought process surrounding the title of the exhibition?

The title actually comes from the Virilio text from The Administration of Fear you had referred to in our discussions. In the book, Virlio talks about how the speed of communication and information creates communities around emotions reacting to information events — he refers to it as “community of emotions.” That was the initial reference; however, I’m not specifically interested in his focus on the relationship between speed and the affect of fear that binds a community. That has been his driving message forever.

With my title “emotion commune” I wanted to invoke the possibility of communing around a whole range of affects and emotions that comes with the freedom of pursuing different ways of life — not just one way of living under a technological regime.

We live in an age of seamless communication. As an artist, how does your work reflect our modern times?

It is hard to escape the present.

How do you see the relationship of your transparent paintings, which are titled on different smart cities around the world, with your light installation?

From the 11R Show:
The spray enamelled Furniture Art series featured on the gallery walls continue this material tension. The atomized paint mist contained in the transparent acrylic shell precipitates to form an opaque surface that reflects the light and objects in the exhibition space while concealing itself from full visibility. The paintings appear as gradients that glimpse a chromatic undercurrent and the spaces beneath the surface. Each piece in this new ambient series is subtitled with the name of a remote location – the embodiment of the unreachable, unscrapable, and not yet knowable.”

Can you explain to us how the linguistic program that you’re using translates the tweets into light, and how did you decide on which color schemes to use?

The custom text analysis system I use is a multilevel sentiment analysis program. Sentiment analysis software reads text and uses an algorithm to produce an estimate of its sentiment content. My system employs a lexical algorithm that analyses word polarities in relation to grammatical structure knowledge to estimate the sentiment of a text (in this case multilingual tweets coming from a specific geographic area).
The program estimates the strength of positive and negative sentiment in short texts, even for informal language. It has human-level accuracy for short social web texts.

The sentiment score determined by this sentiment analysis is assigned a corresponding light intensity value bounded by two colors that I choose (one positive color and one negative color).

How did you decide to open-up a dialogue between İstanbul and New Songdo? Do you really believe it’s possible for a city as old and with such a basic technological foundation can compete with the more modern, less populated New Songdo?

From my perspective and the exhibition, it’s not about technological competition (this is a constructed narrative) but rather how every location, city, and citizen is subject to an arching technological imperative of connectivity, control, and quantification. This imperative seeks to integrate everything through its technologies – this includes new cities and old cities – it doesn’t discriminate but rather integrates everything (i.e., architecture and people) through this connectionist logic and technology. Songdo as a master plan city is built from the ground up on this imperative – Istanbul as a new smart city living lab is in the process of integration. The more important question is what are the justifications for this connectionist imperative. Quality of life? Whose definition of quality? For what ends? For Whom? Who escapes?

Can you tell us about your new book Negative Entropy, published by Three Star Books, launching at Art Basel this month?

The other interesting connection I want to make is that Emotion Commune exhibition is located in the İstanbul Manifaturacılar Çarşısı, Istanbul Textile Traders Market and a country in which textiles production has a deep history.

My Negative Entropy textile work series examines the intersection of material history of textiles, especially since the jacquard loom is thought to be the prototype for computers — there is a connection between textile and the digital. One that underscores the material and the immaterial concerns of today.

The subjects of Tajima’s Negative Entropy textile works have been factories that employ industrial textile Jacquard looms and computer data center sites that comprise the infrastructure of the information economy. Each work is made from field recordings that are digitally transmuted into images and physically interpreted by a weaving designer to produce a Jacquard fabric. Passing through different processes and hands, these textiles are woven on an industrial Jacquard loom, considered a predecessor to mass automated technology and a prototype for computers.

I will also be presenting Negative Entropy wall works in Basel too.

Interview by: Robbie-Lee Valentine
Author: Based Istanbul