Tuesday, 28 October 2008

X & Y

I recently bought a copy of an old Coldplay album, X&Y and the cover really caught my eye. The front of the album is all black, with coloured blocks stacked up in a neat pattern (below).

There are a lot of people who don't like the fact the type isn't readable, but I love it. It's very appropriate to the album too. The album has a futuristic sound, and I think the type face that was designed for the album was the creators interpretation of the way type might evolve in the future. The rest of the cover follows the theme as all images are framed in blocks and are of the colours used in the typeface (exapmles below).

The album’s cryptic cover art was designed by Tappin Gofton (aka Mark Tappin and Simon Gofton), who created the cover for The Chemical Brothers’, Push the Button. The blocks are the Baudot code-encoding (ITA2, a 5-bit alphanumeric encoding used by telegraphs) of the title of the album, X&Y.

The final page of the booklet (seen below) contains the slogan “Make Trade Fair”, using the same encoded alphabet. Holding this at an APEC protest will really hit hard to all the Coldplay fans at the summit
Above: "make trade fair"

The CD booklet contains the ITA2-encoded alphabet. Amazingly, I found possibly the best generator on the web! The Coldplay X & Y text generator. CLICK HERE to make your own words and phrases using this font.
Here are some of my experiments I thought were interesting:

The alphabet, letters A-P with spaces inbetween (above) and Q-Z (below)

The whole alphabet (below) with no spaces between each letter. I like this because it reminds me of sound waves and also I can see the word "RAVE" spelt out.

Below is the word "colour". This creates an interesting shape. The "letters" here are very similar so lines of colour are created instead of square blocks. Speaking of colour, I like the way certain colours are used only in certain lines. E.g. the bottom row of blocks is always blue, the one above green & purple, the row under the dotted line is all red and above the dotted line there is no colour at all, only black, grey and white.

The image below is the word "typo". This shape reminds me of a microscope. This word creates a line from top left to bottom right. You are directed down to the bottom where the largest block of colour is. Each letter, word or phrase looks amazing in different ways.

I've been trying to think of possible reasons why the blocks are separated by the red dotted line, and the above side is colourless while the bottom side coulourful. I think perhaps this is to do with the theme X & Y. "X" might be one side of the line e.g. the top, and "Y" might be the bottom.
We commonly use X and Y as letters used in place of names for anonymous people or unknown quantities. For example, in maths problems you often get if Mr X has 12 apples, and Mr Y has 5 etc.... Or if we are talking about people we might name someone "subject X" for example. Also the chromosomes of the body are named X and Y. These may have significance, but as of yet I'm stuck in how to fully analyse the font and the Coldplay album cover. (if lightbulbs start going off in my head I will post on the blog!)

I like the shapes generated for my name, as it's given me a colourful identity. I'm not really keen on the shape created for my full name though, as I can't see any letters or images formed in there.The word "design" (below) is one of my favourites because it looks like a man dancing or walking. But because the top two rows of blocks are long it makes me think he looks like he's slouching, so is perhaps shuffling along. And if I imagine it is someonw shuffling, for some reason I picture an old man.
I find this very interesting as my mind/imagination has created an image out of squares of colour. This may be something for me to experiment with in the future (I've said it before - keep checking my blog - you know you want to!).

The word "puppy" below actually does look like a puppy. I found this hilarious and also makes me miss my puppy, who I havem't seen since I came to university :(


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