Messages & Means: Muriel Cooper at MIT, 1954–1994David Reinfurt and Robert Wiesenberger
AuthorsDexter Sinister, 2014
GRANTEEDavid Reinfurt & Robert Wiesenberger
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
At the start of her forty-year career at MIT, Muriel Cooper 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 Book (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 4th TED Conference. Throughout her career, Cooper's approach was the same: she worked speculatively, developed tools and systems to shorten feedback cycles between thinking and making, and shattered traditional boundaries of specialization. Her graphics course for MIT’s architecture students, Messages & Means, testifies to her emphasis on process and her distinctive pedagogy, which produced some of today's leading designers. This publication accompanies the first major exhibition devoted to Cooper, to open at Columbia University in Spring 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 to2011. 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, working with professor Barry Bergdoll. His focus is on twentieth-century architecture, design, media, and technology, especially in pre-war Germany. His master’s thesis (2010) examined the exhibition designs of Herbert Bayer and László Moholy-Nagy. He has delivered papers at Cambridge University, UCLA, University of Zurich/ETH, and the Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians; he is the organizer of the Collins/Kaufmann Forum for Modern Architectural History at Columbia. Robert holds a BA with honors in history and Germanic studies from the University of Chicago. He has worked at the design firms MetaDesign and Ammunition in San Francisco, and as an intern in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA. He is the recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the US Department of Education.
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