Mike Saijo was born in 1974 and grew up in the suburbs outside of Los Angeles. He started out looking at many books and magazines and later influenced by graffiti art and Oshuji-Japanese calligraphy. After high school he made his first ‘book piece’ using pages of the New Testament bible, and printing an image of Senator Daniel Innoye he found from a history book.
Saijo refers to the notion of “memory construction” as an entry point to understanding his complex body of work. Memory consists of a combination of feeling, words and image which shape our perception of reality. As a youth Saijo spent much of his time sailing with his father off the coast of Southern California. Such memories have manifested in his recent work which explores themes of loss, entropy, transformation, and the unconscious: represented by an ocean scape where the boundaries are blurred between the sky and the sea. Mythology and classic tales, like Homer’s Odyssey and Stories of the Seven Seas, are reduced to abstraction, thus leaving the viewer to weave their own meaning into the work, navigating through a personal dreamscape, and continuing on a journey between the familiar and the unknown.
Influenced by the tradition of ancient manuscripts, he copies information using a xerox copy machine onto old discolored pages of books creating a sense of the old, while venturing into the new. It is an attempt to take ownership of the past, and effect how we see our present historical situation as we enter into moment of accelerated change and may experience memory loss.
Saijo rejects the notion of art as a fixed idea defined by history, and instead he reclaims history, and redefines it based on “human experience”. Using an “open text” approach, Saijo transforms an object, such as a book, from sequential to spatial order to create new meaning. His unconventional process often involves Xerox copy technology, office supplies, and building materials to construct art with a wide range of subject matter from mid-century modern architecture, WWII photos, cinema stills, imaginary landscapes, and the history of fashion.
Mike Saijo explores the notions of “representation and history” by forming constructions and site-specific installations—with the text of actual book pages juxtaposing imagery of historical incidents and events which have had significant local impact. Together, image and text undergo a process of reduction and abstraction, combining to articulate the point that “now” is as much “history” as history is now.