Magister Dixit, 2015


A performance and interactive object or ‘servo’ for the delivery of services to explore the power of spoken word.

Developed over the period of a year in collaboration with National Trust volunteers, the work takes the form of a davenport desk, converted to provide a number of functionalities for sharing and expanding on the history of ritual, performance and service at Tyntesfield National Trust. Exhibited within the drawing room at Tyntesfield from May-November 2015 the public were invited to use the servo to perform, play and read aloud with one another from scripts, games, music and texts from the collection at Tyntesfield made tangible through this object. Inviting the public to become part of the history of the house by contributing their own knowledge to its collection, public contributions were added to the work over the year before being collated by the artist along with texts from Tyntesfield library to create a final Grand Service on the subject of the word.

Magister Dixit takes its name from Pythagoras who’s teachings are inscribed on Tyntesfield library door: Liberay Scripta Manet, Verba Locuta Volant; the written word stays and the spoken word flies. In recent history this statement is often translated to import the gravitas of the written word where as its original intention was quite the opposite.  Pythagoras, never writing a word himself, taught that the written word stagnates while the spoken word  allows knowledge to grow. Pythagoras considered it the obligation of anyone who learns knowledge to expand upon it from their own perspective which formed his teaching thesis: Magister Dixit.