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BA2 and MA

Generatio Aequivoca

With Special Collections, North West Film Archive, The Portico Library, The Beswick Medical Museum and the Centre for Folklore, Myth and Magic

Generatio aequivoca (or spontaneous generation) was a long-held belief, in religion, philosophy and science, that living creatures could arise from inanimate matter (mice from wheat, fish from ponds, frogs from riverbanks for example).

Through antiquity and into the Middle Ages and likely much earlier and across multiple cultures, people believed that this was a normal biological process taking place all the time. It seemed to explain where certain forms of life came from. Spontaneous generation meets in this project with the animate body, animation, and materiality, through working with archives and archive materials as the project research source, or the ‘thing’ to be brought to life.

Project partners include a range of museums and archives, functioning as the ‘inanimate bodies’ to be re-imagined and have provided starting points for student work. Each project participant was further provided with the same ‘container’, in the form of a simple open wooden framework in which to present their response. This container has acted as a central structure to adapt from, to imaginatively re-invent around, to bring the archive object ‘back to life’ in a new form and tell new stories…