Winter 2004

Pop without point [EXTRACT]

Gum #2

Edited by Kevin Grady and Colin Metcalf, USD29.99 www.gumweb.com

Hailed in some quarters for its ‘aesthetic savvy’ and obsession with pop culture, Gum is a self-conscious oddity, at least in terms of format – an annual box of ephemera lying somewhere between i-D magazine and Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library.

Yet where Acme is dense, dazzling and frequently moving, Gum is merely gaudy, erratic and, on the whole, rather insubstantial. Much of the textual content is fragmentary, marginalised in favour of decoration and toys.

Among Gum’s postmodern juvenilia are a 44-page ‘activity booklet’, a number of pointless trading cards, six gumballs and a View-Master reel depicting various trees. (No View-Master viewing device was supplied.) Why these disparate objects are housed in the same box remains something of a mystery, and one is left with a suspicion that the people responsible are a little too enthralled by the notion of oddness and incongruity as satisfactory ends in themselves. [...]

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