Messages and Means: Muriel Cooper at MIT
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*Messages and Means: Muriel Cooper at MIT extended to April 17, 2014

February 25 – April 17, 2014
Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery
Columbia University
Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 6 pm

Muriel Cooper (1925–94) worked across four decades at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in overlapping roles as a graphic designer, teacher, and researcher. Spanning the transition from print, to early explorations of digital typography, to fully evolved information environments, Cooper’s tenure at MIT maps onto one of the most dynamic periods of the school’s technical, conceptual and theoretical development.

As the first Design Director of the MIT Press, Cooper established a comprehensive publishing program and designed books like The Bauhaus (1969) and Learning from Las Vegas (1972). As co-founder of the Visible Language Workshop, she taught experimental printing and tested large-format Polaroid photography and integrated video systems in MIT’s Department of Architecture. And at the MIT Media Lab, she developed software interfaces and educated a generation of designers. 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.

There is still no magic way — but we propose to keep working at it.
Muriel Cooper, Visible Language Workshop letterhead, c.1979
Muriel Cooper for Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, A Significance for A&P Parking Lots, or Learning from Las Vegas (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972).
"Graphics and New Technology." Slide talk by Muriel Cooper at MIT’s Visible Language Workshop, 1981.
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MIT Media Lab promotional Laser Disc, jacket by Betsy Hacker, MIT Design Services, video text produced at the Visible Language Workshop, 1986
Muriel Cooper for Philip Stone, Dexter Dunphy, and Marshall Smith, The General Inquirer: A Computer Approach to Content Analysis (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1966).
Muriel Cooper, Sketch for the MIT Press colophon, 1963–4
Muriel Cooper, Poster to promote The Bauhaus, 1969
Henry Lieberman for Muriel Cooper, 3D Program Representation, MIT Media Lab, c.1991
Muriel Cooper and MIT Press Design Department for Donis A. Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1973).
Muriel Cooper with David Small, Suguru Ishizaki and Lisa Strauseld, still from Information Landscapes, 1994
Muriel Cooper in conversation with unidentified males at MIT, 1970s