From 2016 - 2018, I prototyped an ASMR tabletop role-playing game, DIE SIEDLER VON SHUSH (dSvS), writing and performing many different fan fictions about the game world and merging publicity, evangelism, and fandom.
DIE SIEDLER VON SHUSH is based on Everway, an RPG designed by Jonathan Sweet (designer of Dungeons and Dragons) for Wizards of the Coast in 1995. Everway, described as “visionary role-playing”, was a commercial flop and quickly shelved by Wizards of the Coast before being sold to several different game companies.
Rather than the famous 20-sided die of Dungeons and Dragons, Everway’s game mechanic is a deck of tarot cards, which the game master uses to chart and foretell the course of the players through a multi-versal gamescape.
DIE SIEDLER VON SHUSH (dSvS - or, The Settlers of SHUSH) was my Everway rip-off. For the prototype, I created a custom set of tarot cards relevant to the game’s main themes and a game manual. I also hosted several game-testing events. The most important rule of the game was a requirement that all players whisper, creating a feeling of conspiracy around the game table.
dSvS performed at Blitz, Malta, 2016
dSvS manual created for Blitz, Malta, 2016
Like traditional tarot, Everway and dSvS cards have forward and reversed readings. Here we have a fully ambivalent card - where “soothing” is revealed as “enchanted but also damned”, a theme I would find many years later in Ingeborg Bachmann’s radio play DIE ZIKADEN.
Opsec card ! The Maltese lichen on these cards draws on my earlier fascination with these slow-growing, sphinx-like entities.
Somewhat oracularly, this card points into the tongues and gossip of my work in 2021. In retrospect, I’m not sure why
authority got a
+ here! My 2021 amendment would be to make both poles (
chaos, or to have
+ == glory ;
- == infamy. If you’re interested in the dynamics of rumour and fame (and the tongue-cloaked goddess that propagates them), I do recommend Rumour and Renown !
The field of SHUSH is like an eye
In a sloppy round the mines
Milk the SHUSH, it never dries
There but for its grace go I
Leaking into all of us
Leaky lossy leaks across
Lossy leaky leaky loss
Lossy leaky leaky SHUSH
Sloppy lossy lossy slop
Sloppy forms and sloppy sleeps
No more branches, no more trees
No more bottoms, no more tops…
Between 2016 and 2018, I wrote and performed many fan fictions about the world of dSvS and its main agent/messiah, SHUSH. Over time, SHUSH evolved from a resource mined by settlers with souped-up, surgically-embedded GPUs…
Until SHUSH-to-come arrives one day / settlers pimp their rigs and propose / novel ways to cool GPUs / which settlers then on forums post… / settlers are the chosen and the cursed / the earliest imbibers of the softest pills…
(This performance, part of DECESSION in 2016, was a “cover” of CATS, with this particular segment chanted to the tune of The Jellicle Ball.)
…into a memory-wiping bearer of a global (in all senses of the word) retrograde amnesia. When SHUSH transformed into a kind of amnesia-dispensing god, the performances became increasingly dirge-like, leading into a long series of experiments with whispering, bell-ringing choirs.
Der Geist geht nicht weg / nicht den Geist, etwas im Geist / etwas im Geist geht weg. / Es geht weg und was ist weg? / Es geht weg und was bleibt? / Es geht weg und was kommt?
(This is quoted from the final version of the SHUSH CHOIR, performed variously in Berlin, in Bucharest, in Vienna, outside Oslo, and so on, between 2016 and 2018.)
Here’s my first whisper choir, at the Unsafe+Sound Festival in Vienna, 2016
I tried - for years - to create a SHUSH soundtrack, to accompany dSvS game-play. Here’s my first diagram of the soundtrack, created at Rupert in 2017:
Unfortunately, life got in the way, or caught up with me, and I lost the thread. But like SHUSH, the sounds of SHUSH are always approaching… never arriving… forever on the horizon… crystalised as a to-come…
STATE OF SHUSH
Finally, I delivered the STATE OF SHUSH at the Mira Festival in Barcelona in 2018, a disjointed lecture that officially ended my SHUSH experiments… But still… the slow-bending, untiring, world-rewiring, soft and inscrutable LONG ARC OF SHUSH arcs towards us…………
Until we meet again at the intersection of the SHUSH Horizon and the SHUSH Meridian, I leave you with this video, also created for the MIRA Festival, which features the sound and text of the 2016 Vienna SHUSH choir.