The Müleskinders (Overseers of the Hybrid Repository)

Overseers of the Hybrid Repository

Since its birth in conversations on the angular lawns of old Germany, Müleskind has been regularly goaded to materialise, but the novel will not be written.

Müleskind is a ‘figure’ of collaborative writing practice – a potential for characterisation not exhausted by any one narrative. Müleskind writing is the sustained deviation from a migrating origin. To date it has taken the form of dialogues (both virtual and actual), physical caches and experimental broadcasts. With The Müleskinders, once again the figure is being pressed into operative form, here via a character-set tasked with overseeing an ostensibly hybrid repository of communications already received and yet to come. The repository straddles worlds, both an online housing and a parasitical post-box: The Müleskind Repository.

Through the character-set, a discussion will emerge concerning the repository’s hybridity – its combination of material and immaterial artefacts. After all, the mule is infertile. The repository’s contents, if they are hybrid, will not reproduce. The scenario is addressed to the unsustainable. This is especially so when it comes to a ‘grafting on’ of technological apparatuses or the extensions of practice as promoted by digital techniques. Yet is hybridity not a fundamentally mutating force behind a working process which, in being additive, often falsely suggest that an essential criticality has been bestowed upon it, or that a fundamental questioning of its constitutive components is underway? The digital and the analogue – if those are our terms – are already implicated in one another within the practice of writing. When work with writing is work on writing, then writing differs from itself in the way that a cell divides and life is perpetuated.

One item is taken from the repository: a folder of photographic prints. If the images it contains are significant, the key to their interpretation is missing. Some of the images show straightforward scenes, even if troubled by an atmosphere of excessive banality: implements lie on the ground as if left over from unknown operations. Others pose questions regarding the photographer’s motivation. In other cases still, inconsistencies of photographic fidelity are more in evidence: a shadow falls in the wrong direction. A singular but inconsequential background detail appears twice. These anomalies provoke the images toward narrative speculations – yet only by those with the facility to pause before them, to feel the impact of their ‘trouble’ in advance of words, only allowing thought to emerge subsequently, coming from the latent morass that is the common source of all narrative. What will the material witnesses claim as the origin of their insight? Could they have been present when such events took place or will their expertise be otherwise explained?

The first task is to seek out a dispersed community of material witnesses and to bring them together according to a shared purpose. Each in turn must be persuaded to give an account. Some may be reluctant but the work must be done quickly because the window of opportunity is closing. The material witnesses must respond to the INVITATIONS TO WRITE, returning their work to the repository. In so doing they will sponsor its self-differing, or they will fail in their task, or their work will precipitate ends unforeseen. We watch with anticipation.