• Messages and Means: Muriel Cooper at MIT, 1954–1994
    David Reinfurt and Robert Wiesenberger
    Roger Conover
    Nicholas Negroponte
    MIT Press, 2016
    David Reinfurt & Robert Wiesenberger

Muriel Cooper, self-portrait with Polaroid SX-70, video imaged and printed at the Visible Language Workshop, 1977, Cambridge, MA.

At the start of her forty-year career at MIT, Muriel Cooper (1925–1994) introduced a modern visual language to the MIT Press, rationalized its production process, designed its iconic logo, and gave form to seminal publications like The Bauhaus (1969) and Learning from Las Vegas (1972); at its premature end, she presented a radical computer interface called “Information Landscapes” to an ecstatic audience at the 5th TED conference.  Throughout, Cooper's approach remained consistent: creating tools and systems for rapid feedback, dissolving boundaries between design and production, and restlessly seeking out new problems. Messages and Means, Cooper's graphics course in the Department of Architecture at MIT, testifies to her distinctive, workshop pedagogy, which produced some of today's leading designers. This publication accompanies the first exhibition devoted to Cooper in twenty years, to open at Columbia University in February 2014, and then travel to the MIT Media Lab.

David Reinfurt is an independent graphic designer and writer based in New York. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1993 and received an MFA from Yale University in 1999. On the first business day of 2000, David formed O-R-G inc., a flexible graphic design practice composed of a constantly shifting network of collaborators. Together with graphic designer Stuart Bailey, David established Dexter Sinister (2006)—a workshop in the basement at 38 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side in New York City. The workshop is intended to model a just-in-time economy of print production, running counter to the contemporary assembly-line realities of large-scale publishing. This involves avoiding waste by working on-demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production, and distribution into one efficient activity. Dexter Sinister published the semi-annual arts magazine Dot Dot Dot from 2006 to 2011. Reinfurt recently launched a new umbrella project called the Serving Library, with Stuart Bailey and Angie Keefer. He is a 2010 United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow in Architecture and Design and currently teaches at Princeton University.

Robert Wiesenberger is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. His research focuses in particular on architecture, design, and media in prewar Europe, and the intersection of art, graphic design, and early computing in postwar America. He holds a BA with honors from the University of Chicago, and is the recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education. He has worked at the design firms MetaDesign and Ammunition in San Francisco, and as a curatorial intern in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. He is currently a Critic at the Yale School of Art.