The 45 RPM Adapter

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The object presented is a 45 RPM adapter. Sometimes referred to as a 45 record insert, or 7 inch adapter, the object is a small insert that is placed in the middle of a 45 RPM record in order for it to be played on the more common 78 RPM sized spindle of a record player. I have chosen this object because I work at a radio station, and we have a pretty big vinyl collection. I remember being puzzled the first time I found a 45 adapter laying around, I had no idea what it was. With it’s unique design, I thought it would make for an interesting description.

The shape of the object presented is generally circular in nature, but consists of three identical pronged points that round outward from the converging points of a central shape.  This central shape is compound and consists of both an equilateral triangular shape with concave sides, and a circle. The negative space plays a critical role in defining the shape of the object. There is a hole cut from the center, about 1/5 the diameter of the overall circular shape of the object. There are also three equivalent curved lines that cut inward, and wrap around the central circle from any given angle, but never touch one another.

The shadows that are visible in the negative space make it clear that the object has depth, but the size of the object is impossible to determine from the attached image. There is also raised, sans serif text that wraps around the center, in between the central cut circle and the three curved lines. In terms of color, the object is very clearly blue, with only slight variations in value caused by the way the object has been lit.

The first 45 rpm inserts were invented by the Webster-Chicago Corporation. They were made of solid zinc, very difficult to insert into a record, and nearly impossible to remove without breaking the record. Eventually, a number of differently shaped adapters were invented, and the plastic “Spider” design you see here became the most widely used, and recognizable. While not as widely recognizable today, especially to younger generations, the design can still be seen on t-shirts, posters and the like. My boss even got a tattoo of one a few weeks ago. This brings up the symbolic nature of the 45 RPM adapter. With advancements in technology and the dominance of digital streaming, they are no longer widely used today for their technical purpose. However, the image of the 45 adapter has come to represent something beyond its function; nostalgia for a music scene past. Symbolic of a transient product that is very hard to come by today, the 45 adapter represents, especially to members of older generations, a time when music was pure, artists played all of their own instruments, and recording and producing a record was a process that took time and careful attention to detail.

Time does not stop, technology will keep advancing, and for the music industry, this is no exception. And who knows, maybe in 40-50 years Spotify’s logo will come to represent the nostalgia for the music scene past that the 45 adapter represents today.

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Steal your Face

Andreas Kremer

Steal your Face

I chose to use an iconic logo of the band, The Grateful Dead.  Their logo Steal your Face is widely know, recognized and seen as a major symbol for the hippie movement, jam music, and the psychedelic period.  It can been seen any where on any of their band merchandise, cd’s, stickers, and on the bumpers of cars all over the world.  The original use was a way for the band to identify their musical equipment.  however, the logo later appeared on the cover of the album Steal your Face, and has been known as the Steal your face symbol ever since.

This design is fairly simplistic contains only 4 colors, red, blue, white, and black.  Yet the contrast between these is very bold and eye catching.  The image is entirely based off of a circle, created by a thin black outline.  Inside it contains a smaller circle that suspended near the top of the larger circle.  The smaller one however, is created by two black lines with white space in between, as opposed to the singular black line around the larger circle.  Between the space of the bottom of the smaller and bottom of the larger circle the outer black line from the smaller one continues in a very curvature nature to the bottom of the image.  In the extended area that this line creates is more white space that contains black lines, curves, and various shapes.  The space inside the larger circle to the left of the smaller shape is filled with a blue while the space to the right is filled with a red.  In the middle of the smaller circle lies black zig-zag line that stretch across the entire circle, leaving space on either side.  This space is also filled with red and but it is flipped to contrast with the larger circle.  The left is red while the right is blue.

Since this image is so iconic and has been around since it was first designed in 1969 I think it is very effective.  The lightning bolt is a symbol for transformation, enlightenment, and raw powers of nature, juxtaposed with a skull, and distinct colors that all lend to the symbols’s “steal your face” concept.  Through the Grateful Dead’s scene the music inspired, many people were transformed.  In a sense their everyday masks were cracked by the openness of their culture.  The lightning bolt is a perfect symbol to convey this idea, and the skull also provides a great way to symbolize the “Grateful Dead”.steal-your-face8.jpg