There are two basic reasons for putting bullets into a gumball machine…
A. Irony — to contrast the childhood innocence of multicolored candies with a loaded symbol of deadly force.
Sculptures above include:
1. Nathaniel Donnett’s 2012 “The Evidence of Things Not Seen”—a candy machine with gold-leafed hollow point bullets in prize capsules.
Donnett also filled a gumball machine with multi-colored bullets for his installation, Return of tha Gangsta Ego, included in a 2008 group show entitled, “Time for a Change” curated by Catherine D. Anspon at the Deborah Coulton Gallery.
Can’t find a close up of that one, but an installation view appears on the right. (Note: child’s silhouette with gun)
2. Dawn Siebel’s 2013 “Gumball Model .223”—a gumball machine containing a mixture of gumballs and (inert) .233 ammunition.
“I bought this gumball machine several years back from a yard sale in Boulder… For several years now I have imagined filling it with bullets as a sculpture…
Finally, after it was all finished and photographed and ready, I learned that .223s were the bullets used in the Sandy Hook school shootings. They’re the ammunition for a Bushmaster rifle. Maybe other rifles too. I still don’t know too much about guns.”
3. Silas Stoddard’s “Gunball Machine” with multicolored bullets.
Can’t find much online about this artist. I know her sculpture sold for $600 at the LA boutique, Espionage, but Espionage’s website is down along with any larger, high-res images of Arvanites’s sculpture.
(The other motivation for putting bullets in gumball machines, after the fold…)
B. Sincerity — a sincere expression of unabashed gun enthusiasm.
These examples were probably not meant as artistic statements, but the distinction is pretty semantic. It’s basically the same creative idea, with a different underlying agenda.
1. The machine on the left is “Gumball machine gone bad” by CynicalConservative.
“Surprised me that it actually worked… Thought the weight might be an issue but it powers through it like it’s M&M’s. Need to tighten the dispenser though, gives almost a full magazine worth for quarter.”
2. The center photo “Gum Machine Test” from Chris Volkow’s Flickr Photostream.
“Had no gum balls, but plenty of bullets. Reshoot is needed IMO.”
3. The machine on the right is a motion-sensing M&M candy dispenser put to an off-label use as an “ammunition dispenser” by a maker of things who calls himself, North.
“It would be slick if it dumped the right number for the mag. It senses motion, turns for a certain amount of time and then stops. Even when it was filled with M&Ms it didn’t dump the same amount each time.”
While the gun enthusiasts here, may be sincere advocates of gun rights and unfettered access to munitions, they’re certainly well-aware that the juxtaposition of bullets with children’s bubble gum would be jarring to some.
To those commenting on his blog post, CynicalConservative signaled an “evil grin.” (North offered an “evil laugh” on his blog.)
For them, I think that’s part of the fun—a devilish caprice. As if to say, “Sure, it’s politically incorrect [in these days of Columbine and Sandy Hook] to keep ones bullets in a gumball machine rather than a gun safe, but it’s so damn convenient.”