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Digital Maps Inspired By Joy Division's "Unknown Pleasures" Cover

Love will tear us apart, but these maps will bring a lot of data together.

I would argue that I see at least one New Yorker wearing a Joy Division shirt with the Unknown Pleasures album art every week. The iconic design, created by Peter Seville in 1979, was inspired by the lines representing the frequency of the first observed pulsating star. The frequency map is beyond ingrained in our collective pop culture conscious, and has inspired a variety of ephemera and creative projects, such as Elevation Lines and Population Division—two maps that pay homage to the post-punk band's seminal release. 

Unknown Pleasures

cover, via

The former, shown at the top of this page, is a Leaflet map that visualizes global elevation data as a series of vertical lines. The creator, Damon Burgett, explained that "It is essentially a bunch of cross sections that I offset vertically based on the elevation at that point on the map." He also meekly noted that he was "inspired by a t-shirt I saw (I think it was some '80s band)." We'll let that one slide 'cause his interactive map is so cool. 

The second Ian Curtis-friendly map, Population Division by Adam Pearce, is an edit of James Cheshire's Population Lines, using data from NASA and d3.js to create a world map that represents population density by latitude. Users can also see population density changes over the last twenty years.

Regardless of these designer's interest in Factory Records, we have to hand it to them for a sleek interpretation of one of the most notorious record sleeves in rock history. Listen to one of our favorite songs off Unknown Pleasures and go tinker with the maps. 

@zachsokol