Mantra is an interactive sculpture by Mateus Domingos created for Phoenix and the Arts Tower staircase at De Montfort University. The sculpture is displayed across both sites alongside wallhanging, stitched paper works.
The work is designed to explore repetition, randomness, belief and narrative. The paper works are small mantras stitched together into panels. The mantras range from focussed advice and encouragement about studying to jokes and vaguer truisms.
The Mantra sculpture follows the principles of a Buddhist prayer wheel. These are traditionally made with a single mantra on the outer layer. Around the core of the cylinder other mantra written on paper are wound.. The outer mantra is displayed across five 3d-printed segments and reads, “TAKE EACH STEP WITH CARE”.
The act of spinning the prayer wheel can be a meditative, contemplative act. It is about fostering this moment of interaction with an art object that is consciously performative and imaginative. The work also creates a resistance towards quick reading as the text is rendered using a fictional alphabet, Codex.
The sculpture is designed to interact with a remote location. As people pass by the wheel and turn it a button is triggered that sends a signal that will render an update to a website. This website displays a randomly generated mantra. This page is only visible within the space at Phoenix. Each time the wheel is turned the page will be changed and the previous mantra not seen again. This further provokes the need to translate or interpret the writing. Opposed to the prayer wheel mantra, these random ones are not created with specific intent and could therefore say anything.
To assist in the interaction with the work in Phoenix there is a Cipher that visitors can turn to translate the texts or write their own. There is also a website with several functions. There is a static cipher, an ability to virtually turn the wheel, and also download one of the written mantras.