Art Showcase

About the X&Y Album Cover.

X&Y

X&Y

Chris Martin, At Coldplay, is a self-proclaimed intellectual nerd. The cover of the band’s album X&Y may be all the proof we need that he’s right.

Shortly after release of the album, a number of the band’s fans wondered if there was any particular significance to the arrangement of colored blocks on its cover. It turns out that there is and the blocks are arranged in a code developed in 1874. The code uses visual representations of 1’s and 0’s in a 5 digit sequence corresponding with particular letters of the alphabet and typographic symbols. It is considered by many to be the first truly digital form of communication and was a primary language used for telegraphy until it was replaced by Morse Code in the 20th Century.

The code was developed by Emile Baudot in 1874 to be used by telegraphers transmitting messages across wires. To create the code on the cover of the album the colored blocks are arranged in columns. In the lefthand column the black and grey colors are one block, the blank space below it is one block, and the red/orange, orange/green and green/blue combinations below are each one block. A colored block represents a 1 in the binary code and a blank block is a 0. Reading down, the code in the first column is 10111 which represents the letter ‘X.’ The far right colum reads 10101, the code for the letter ‘Y.’ The colums in the middle represent the & portion of the album title.

In case you wonder what all the colors mean, it turns out they have no particular meaning and are only included for aesthetic reasons. To explore the code further, check out the liner notes of the album that include a full chart of the Baudot alphabet. You can then enjoy communicating over long-distance in the manner of a less hectic time period in history.

This Art was created using a code developed by Emile Baudot in 1874. Now, it’s your turn to create your own album cover in Coldplay’s style. Head on over to the Coldplay X&Y Album Art Generator, enter your words of wisdom and you’ll get your own beautiful pattern of colored blocks. See if you can out-geek Chris Martin!

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