The Swamp

Within Garry’s Mod, a multiplayer sandbox game that allows players to build their own worlds and socialize, there is a server whose centerpiece is a movie theater sitting in the middle of a swamp (hence its name, Swamp Cinema). The core gimmick is that the theater is functional, allowing visitors to load videos onto the various screens and share them with anyone in the same room, but the grounds also house more deliberately provocative setpieces, many of which are themed around former president Donald Trump and feature “edgy” humor. It was clearly designed to attract and cater to players who have been shaped by the darker corners of the Internet, and it succeeds. There are very few rules about conduct and language, and players can make themselves look like almost anything, so you never know who or what you’ll run into.

After discovering Swamp Cinema I engaged with it as a photojournalist, capturing the most absurd interactions I’ve ever seen in a video game. I left most of my shots unedited, but I also began to cut the images apart and remix them into new compositions, combining them with snippets of the text-based chat to create a more complete abstraction of my experience.