MUSH was first commissioned as a 360º immersive projection for MIRA Digital Arts Festival, with a single-channel edit premiered soon after by Fact magazine. See here for dank write-up by Henry Bruce-Jones.

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 Dane Sutherland
  • Edit and FX by Most Dismal Swamp and Stephen McLaughlin
  • Semelparous installation by Joey Holder
  • Unreal Engine 5 world and Exudater installation by Samuel Capps
  • MUSH collages by Lou Shafer
  • Blender animations by Aquabubz
  • Blender wall decal by Tissue Hunter
  • Additional 2D graphics and animated typography by Post Cyberparamo
  • 3D animated figures by Olia Svetlanova
  • Silicone garments by vvxxii and Johanna Invrea
  • DOOBIE WEB 2009 Sweatshirts by Iain Ball
  • Jewellery by Timothy Gasbarro
  • Sculptures by Hannah Rose Stewart, Agnieszka Szostek, Yiming Yang, Sian Fan, Laura Costas
  • Spirit's Gravity drawings by Matt Cangiano
  • Choreography by Most Dismal Swamp and Laila Majid
  • Performers: V Shetsova, Luke Magill, Furi, Lora Angelova, Susanna Husebø
  • Camera by Julia Brown
  • Words by Dane Sutherland
  • Music by FRKTL