Valentina Karga

The Institute for Spontaneous Generation

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The GRUB shareholder’s bonding procession

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Active Shareholders Acquisition (photos: Eoin Carey)

The Wealth of Scotland Grows as The Dialogue Soars 

Established only five years ago in the sunburnt summer of 2017, many critics initially believed that The Institute for Spontaneous Generation (ISG) was merely a silly conceptual project developed by a bunch of idealistic artists, designers and activists. Today, exactly five years on, in the climatically challenging summer of 2022, the seed of thought developed during that historic summer school has come to change our very notion of what wealth, value, and communication mean.

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The Institute’s economic research projects under the manifesto ‘The currency is dialogue’. 

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The Institute’s Logo

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Inside the Institute’s Headquarters housed at the Civic House. 

Although a simple idea in practice, the shift in our collective understanding that money is a fiction spread like maggots after the activities of Test Unit 2017. The new manifesto, “The Currency is Dialogue” helped people to understand that conversations and communication are the only means to generate real wealth: stronger relationships and resilient communities. With their name taken from the the ancient scientific theory that life (i.e. maggots) can spontaneously generate from sterile environments and non-living matter, The Institute went on to explore what new events and activities can spontaneously generate new forms of dialogue. The first of these projects, The Grub Economy, showed the bonds that can be formed and then shared among people when they talk to one another and exchange stories. Immaterial yet more important wealth is created spontaneously in unexpected ways when dialogue is the currency.

Furthermore, due to ISG’s circular economic entrepreneurial activities the abundance of domestic and commercial waste materials along the canal in the North of Glasgow began to be seen as a new resource. This led to the formation of Spontaneous Press Inc.’s Paper Factory, a recycling factory that turns paper waste into new beautiful and bespoke paper. The success of the factory has generated new jobs locally and throughout the country as Scotland, the biggest producer of recycled goods worldwide, is renowned for pushing towards a sustainable circular economy. Just like maggots, wealth can be produced from what is considered non-useful matter. 

A video message from the Institute’s managing director

And now, in it’s fifth year of publication, the Spontaneous Record has united the local community of North Glasgow by capturing and initiating dialogue among business owners, organisations, local residents and the creative community. The initial investment by shareholders, philanthropic benefactors and time bankers led to the generation of one of Scotland’s most exciting publications.   As more and more people learned of what was going on in the local area, the community was strengthened and the wealth of communication has grown. 

Through its ventures, The Institute for Spontaneous Generation has challenged the capitalist dependency on monetary forms of value. Value is fluid and subjective, thus communication and dialogue are the only real methods of exchange and community the only real outcome.

(text: Christopher Gordon Strachan for Spontaneous Press)

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Right before the shareholder’s rally, we hid the shares=GRUBS (photos: Eoin Carey)

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To acquire a share in the GRUB economy you had to find a GRUB and 3 more people with whom you would share a dialogue.

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The GRUB shareholder’s bonding procession

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The ‘floating of the shares’ 

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CEO William McRoberts didn’t want to let go of the shares, even while their floatation. 

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The collective body of shareholders

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 (photos: Eoin Carey)

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The GRUBS installation(photo: Esme Armour)

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The GRUB is modelled upon the example of stone money of YAP island. They were large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter. A little bit like public sculptures, however owned by someone in words. They would remain in the same position, while their property would be transferred to someone else through consciousness. (research image)


The Paper Factory

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The GRUBS’ production (photos: Eoin Carey)

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The stuffs’ uniform

The Institute for Spontaneous Generation was created during Test Unit 2017 in Glasgow.

Founders :

Valentina Karga

Lizzie Abernethy

Lewis Prosser

Esme Armour

Brian Morgan

Naomi Rubbra

Helen King

William McRoberts

Anna Wachsmuth

Christopher Gordon Strachan

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Many thanks to the organizers Agile City (Helen Teeling, Rob Morrison, Abigale Neate Wilson) and to all other workshop leaders, participants and guests for the mutual inspiration and support.

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Finally, the publication of Test Unit was edited and published from our beloved dpr-barcelona and printed by Risotto Studio.