In the history of album art, few designs are more famous than the minimal image of white waves against a black background that adorns the cover of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. When even Mickey Mouse is lifting the image, you know it’s thoroughly penetrated the mainstream. But while everyone seems to have a vague idea of what designer Peter Saville’s art represents, it’s a rare treat to hear the designer himself tell the story behind it.
So we’re excited to see that Visualized has posted a new video interview in which Saville discusses the Unknown Pleasures cover. He tells the story of Joy Division bringing him the graph, which he describes as “a comparative path demonstration of the frequency a signal from a pulsar. And, in fact, it’s the first pulsar ever observed,” taken from the pages of an old textbook. As many have pointed out, pulsars are “a stage in the formation of a black hole.” Saville also talks about the cover’s influence over the years. “It’s kind of a template which people continue to interpret in a deeply serious, melodramatic, or quite comic way,” he says. “It’s the endless possible interpretations of this diagram that make it so powerful, and in a way useful, for something like an album cover.” Watch the video below.
[via The Creators Project]