Dear Reader,

Things aren’t good.

We could pretend they are. We could mirror the sentiment of rejuvenation peddled by the same government that got us here in the first place. We could create a summer issue complete with bright colours, sickly optimism, and a cry for collective cheer. However, it seems a big ask for a group of disillusioned students in their 20-somethings nigh on graduating into an unrecognisable world that has transitioned into a dystopian hellscape. Besides, we already did that (see spring issue).

In this vein, UNKNOWN concerns itself primarily with paranoia. Not so much with a tangible threat, or a clear hurdle to be overcome, but with the inescapable, all-encompassing dread that is symptomatic of our uncertain future. With this future-focus, we explore our increasingly digital existences, and the dangers that arise from this shift. UNKNOWN investigates the little cultural riptides that pull us down further into our own personal fears: the warranted and yet socially-invalidated apprehension of online dating; the anxiety induced by life within a privately-operated surveillance state; and the unpredictable consequences of gene-editing technology.

Reckoning with the aftermath of Covid, and the subsequent international governmental and cultural disintegration, serves as a reminder of the extent to which unchecked and undeserved influence has infected our society. Fear and mistrust have woven themselves deeper into the social fabric of our culture. As we hurtle back into so-called normality, we find ourselves thrust, unprepared, into a frenzied, disordered world, and towards a future that is as undesirable as it is unnerving.

All of this isn’t to say that UNKNOWN is devoid of hope. It is through the interrogation of the fucked up state of things that will enable us to approach this unpredictable future with the wool wrestled from our eyes, armed to deal with whatever comes our way.

Hence, the radical, opinionated, and intelligent minds that have filled these pages over the last 9 months are reason to remain hopeful. The future is bleak. The future is not coherent. And it is certainly not back under our control, as if it ever was. But for every Jeff Bezos clone inflicting unprecedented damage on our society, there’s a young creative with a laptop who’s sure as hell going to make sure you know how much of a prick they are. UNKNOWN is not doomsaying, but a necessary warning. It’s a guide for how we may still correct our path, communicated directly from the very individuals who will be living with the consequences.

We hate to make this all about us, but UNKNOWN is also the final issue created by the 20/21 GUM team. Leading GUM through the last academic year has been a beautiful, stressful, life-changing experience. 3 quarterly issues, the launch of a secondary publication, podcast, and art exhibition later, working with so many artists and writers from Glasgow and beyond has been a dream. We set out this year to make the voice of GUM louder than ever, and we’re walking away considering this goal achieved, all thanks to our incredible team, contributors, and readers. We hope you have a great summer, and GUM will be back this winter. Bye from all of us for now, and thank you.

Don’t let the bastards get you down!!!!!

With love, Graham & Lara.