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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

New tube map front cover

Combination of art history, design and collective memory

I could never be an art critic or an artist for that matter. Reading Metro yesterday I discovered that the new pocket tube map which is printed in millions has a commissioned cover design.

Detail of new Tube Map front cover design

It's a target made up with colours of the Tube lines, which is fine, colourful and bold - but is it really (as the arty press release would have us believe) "deceptive in its apparent simplicity with its own identity inextricably linked with that of London Underground" and does it "playfully combines the Tube line colours with art historical references, graphic design and our collective memory"?

Our collective memory of what? It's just our collective memory of tube line colours, as it "prompts a double-take as we work out why it seems so familiar".

The press release continues with this memory of tube line lark and I'm afraid it's just a bit too arsey, sorry, arty: "Emma Kay is interested in how objective facts and figures are subjected to the eccentricities of our memories. 'You Are in London' (the title of the piece) is Kay's own memory audit of the tube line colours. Combining a popular symbol with a familiar set of colours she lays claim to both."

Why not get a bit more surreal though? If something was to represent our collective memory of the Tube, I think it would have to be a bit out of focus (not just representing drunken nights on the underground). Pulling on my arty goatee beard I'd envisage something that combines speed with the dichotomy of a private company looking after a public service. Something which merges inner turmoil and ennui with the discordant echoes of Munch's The Scream. Something where Victorian values mingle unhappily with a 21st century phenomena struggling phoenix-like through a mire of bureaucracy, politics and public opinion.

Sorry, I had a bit of a Sister Wendy Beckett moment there. But if you had to artistically visualise the Tube, how would you do it?

; Posted by Annie Mole Wednesday, September 29, 2004 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon