We include a short film clip in which a pompous army mule by the name of Francis suggests that a soldier from the “intelligence” section is not prepared for the very commodity that someone in his position should be ready for. As another beginning, another stutter, we suggest that this notion ties in with the Repository’s problematic and deliberately ambiguous intelligibility and visibility… its availability to recognition. As has already been suggested, much of the Repository’s potency comes from its resistance to the senses or perhaps, we might suggest, its position relative to intelligence. But intelligence in what sense?
Perhaps it is precisely in the military application of gathering data through reconnaissance activity – an advance guard that strives ahead but, crucially, is often unprepared for identifying what is ‘new’, or recognising and digesting the significance of any form of novelty it may uncovers or otherwise come across. We are reminded of the motif running through Harun Farocki’s 1989 film, Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges [Images of the World and the Inscription of War], in which Allied reconnaissance aircraft, on a mission to document factories and power plants in 1944, unknowingly captured aerial footage of the Birkenau extermination camp at Auschwitz. It would only be decades later, when the horrors of the holocaust had since come to light, that the images would be recognised for what they were. Farocki’s concern is with the junctions and disjunctions of cognition and recognition, but we might ask whether the hybrid-repository is somehow related to these functions, or holds to a similar tactic. Does the Repository hope to disrupt recognition and interpretation, not only via its own unstable appearance and functionality, but also in relation to the artefacts it is there to ‘attract’ and contain, or the material that is to be subsequently generated from its cache?
What can the Müle teach us concerning intelligence? Is its braying a demand for us to dismiss fixed expectation concerning what is identifiable, sensible or articulable, even what is first-order and what is not? In relation to images it could be that the task being set out for us is to be forced to stare through an image’s components, isolating or dismissing specifics in order to provoke visuality into form of difference using only its inherent resources. Perhaps the pompous Müle wants us to parse the visual in such a way as to digitally edit our recognised cognition.