Most of us can remember having a song that connects, speaks or otherwise expresses an undefinable emotion, may it be a heartbreak, an angst or a celebration, giving us a feeling that someone else actually understands. And in that moment, this song is etched in our memory, creating a special bond. To some, it becomes an anthem that reminds them of a period in time; for others, it brings an equanimity, like what Joy Division’s "Atmosphere’" has for me.
"Atmosphere: was the first posthumously single re-released after the death of their emblematic lead singer, Ian Curtis. In another later re-issue of 1988, ’+’ and '-' featured prominently in its album design.
I am appropriating these two mathematical symbols into my design.
For me, they are one of the most simple and recognizable symbols that are, at the same time, one of the most divisive when used together - Positive/Negative, Right/Wrong or Male/Female - but ironically they lose their extended meanings and significance when used on its own. One cannot exists without the other; like we cannot have Day without Night as too much of either creates the fundamentalism and extremism that happening in our societies, losing the balance that makes Life.
Music has the ability to bring this balance to Life as it sees no gender, class, race, language, religion or sexual orientation. In its space, there is only commonality. By putting ‘+’ and ‘-’ on either side of the vinyl record (its circular nature gives this sense of ‘Whole-ness’ as well), I want to remind myself to embrace the different sides in us and humanity; for “...(y)our deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings.” (Rumi)
The design of this piece is ‘stripped-down’ and kept minimal as a tribute to Peter Saville’s simple and yet powerful designs on the many Joy Division and New Order albums I grew up with. I'm sure his aesthetics has inspired many in my generation, and will continue to inspire future works.