Gum-Shoo: A Brief History

During the 2020 shutdown, the streets of Boston, like those in many cities worldwide, took on an eerie emptiness. With daily commuters, students, tourists, and gridlocked traffic conspicuously absent, the city's usual hustle and bustle made way for a more contemplative atmosphere. It was as if time had slowed down sufficiently to reveal overlooked details from our former lives.

For me, it was the omnipresent discarded gum wads that began to capture my attention. Often embedded with shoe imprints, some displaying vibrant colors, while others appearing rather drab, these sticky remnants adorned the sidewalks, streets, and alleyways across the city. Like peculiar little fossils, these blobs of masticated synthetic polymer increasingly fascinated me the more I noticed them during my daily walks.

The Gum Shoo project has taken on an almost anthropological quality. I've since compiled thousands of photographs of gum wads and covered hundreds of miles in the process. It has come to feel strangely anthropological, much like the three-million-year-old Laetoli footprints of early hominins in Tanzania or the lunar prints left by the Apollo 11 astronauts, it's evidence of our past existence, reminding us that even when we're no longer present, we leave traces in unexpected places, waiting to be noticed and appreciated.