Mush, 2022

The term MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) is a term derived from the field of online text-based role-playing games. It refers to the communal investment in and social codification of a shared gamespace: the rules, tacit protocols, ethos, and other invented elements which allow it to be an effectively immersive space distinct from an 'outside' world.

MUSH by Most Dismal Swamp explores the emerging long-tail of community-building, or 'gangcrafting'. It is interested in the arcane, encrypted cultures flourishing among the recesses of an online megalopolis and reinforced by offline organisation and social balkanization. Maintaining fragile communities in platform-mediated circumstances means navigating: fluidly draconian Ts&Cs, gamified feedcrafting algorithms, algorithmic populism, misinformation, reality entrepreneurs, meme inception, and punitive control such as shadow-banning. While offline, the closure of many struggling urban venues as apparatuses of diverse community-building and public discourse, as well as the emergence of phenomena such as 'astroturfing', means that many communities seek and embrace alternative, private, or 'off-grid' spaces. From trust-based cryptoraves to sub rosa chat servers.
The combined hardwiring of possessive individualism and tacit online communication protocols has mutated popular discourse: militantly aggressive filter bubbles vying to signal-boost their homebaked 'truths' and jury-rigged reality-models. The result is a swamp-like, inextricably entangled, adversarial Mixed Reality system: a bazaar of amateur heresies, microworld-building protocols, and dog-whistle memetics. Systemic ideological segregation and quarantine thus ferments a long-tail of forking realities.

Among these concerns, MUSH focuses on the encrypted internal exchanges of such a group: a k-hole katabasis into the consensual disassociation of opaque gestures, rituals, theories and artefacts that form an underground enclave. MUSH is the surveillance of a gancrafted night science; an airplane-mode mysticism; a ‘conlang’ of survival and of improvised future-building, forming among reclaimed empty venues and digital dark forests.

Curated + Directed by Most Dismal Swamp

Edit and FX by Most Dismal Swamp and Stephen McLaughlin -- @most_dismal_swamp & @straightola

Semelparous installation by Joey Holder -- @joeyholder__

Unreal Engine 5 world and Exudater installation by Samuel Capps -- @samuel.capps

MUSH collages by Lou Shafer -- @luoshfaer

Blender animations by Aquabubz -- @aquabubz

Blender wall decal by Tissue Hunter -- @tissue_hunter

Additional 2D graphics and animated typography by Post Cyberparamo -- @post_cyberparamo

3D animated figures by Olia Svetlanova -- @oliasvetlanova_

Silicone garments by vvxxii and Johanna Invrea -- @_vvxxii & @iranacredi

DOOBIE WEB 2009 Sweatshirts by Iain Ball

Jewellery by Timothy Gasbarro -- @eroticwelder

Sculptures by Hannah Rose Stewart, Agnieszka Szostek, Yiming Yang, Sian Fan, Laura Costas -- @6footstranger @agnieszka.szostek @yimingyang_d @sianfan Laura Costas

Spirit's Gravity drawings by Matt Cangiano -- @mattcangiano

Choreography by Most Dismal Swamp and Laila Majid -- @helloo0o0o0oo0oo0oooo00o00o0o

Performers: V Shetsova, Luke Magill, Furi, Lora Angelova, Susanna Husebø
@zlopobedilo @whitetrashtray @furi.216 @u_r_o_k_i @susannehusebo

Camera by Julia Brown -- @julia_fiona_brown

Words by Most Dismal Swamp

Music by FRKTL -- @frktl

Most Dismal Swamp is a model for curating, collaborating and convivial speculation; a modular and miasmic crew. Operating at multiple scales and registers, Most Dismal Swamp is an art project, a curatorial MMORPG, a fiction, a party, and a mixed-reality biome.

Most Dismal Swamp invokes the swamp as a conceptual model for understanding and navigating our present mixed reality paradigm. Simultaneously solid land and fluid water yet also neither, swamps embody a topology of muddy indistinction, and the horizonless territory of context collapse. They engender a taxonomic heresy that disallows easy separation and parsing of solid forms. This is significant for understanding a contemporary condition that has supplanted the teleology of modernity and the fragmentation of postmodernity with the entangled simultaneity of multiple, nested logics. A mixed reality paradigm that blurs, combines and superposes fact and fiction, nature and culture, technology and occult, virtual and real, authentic and synthetic, liquid and solid, science and mysticism, self and other, dry silicon and wet biology, online and offline, human and nonhuman... From these fetid recombinations, a night science of swamp angels and dank enlightenment emerges and flourishes like moss across the cold stone of modern ruin: globally variable synaesthesia intensifies!

MDS emerged from the curatorial practice of Dane Sutherland which had focused on gallery exhibitions, distributive sonic fiction, club nights and other live events. MDS launched with two ambitious projects showing simultaneously in 2019: Swamp Protocol at arebyte gallery and Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog. Since then MDS has presented these works at other international venues and online settings as well as: directing a music video for The 1975, curating an online exhibition of 'Dismal Sessions', and releasing several EPs/albums by experimental producers as an independent record label.