David Reinfurt: "Muriel Cooper" | Talks at Google

David Reinfurt:

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Thought. It would be nice to. Start off this talk with another talk. This. Is Muriel, Cooper at age 68, she, this is the years 1994. She's. On stage at the fifth, annual Technology. Entertainment and, design conference. Held in Monterey California this, is a TED talk doesn't. Quite look like a TED talk as you notice she, doesn't have on shoes to, start with, she's. Made herself comfortable in the chair. During, this at this talk. She. Was presenting, the work of her, students, in the visible language workshop, on. Immersive. Interactive. Computer. Interface. Environments. The. The talk was exceedingly. Successful. So much so that apparently Michael Bill Gates asked. For a copy of the, materials. Afterwards, it, made a big, impact, in the world, of graphic design where I was at the time I was working out at IDEO in San Francisco, and as an interaction designer when, that was a pretty new, discipline. I worked, for one of our students, and this work was absolutely. Everywhere, in the, intervening. Years I, was shocked to see it kind of recede from view, I, think, I'll play a little bit of this video. First. Can. You hear me yes I have. A couple of personal things in. Characteristic. Of the TED philosophy. First of all I'm. Testing, the boundaries, to. See how, truly. Comfortable, one can make oneself yeah this. Is another portrait, of Muriel Cooper this is from 1972. This. Is well. It's included in the book and it. Is captioned. In the book as Muriel, Cooper in 1972, at MIT. Surrounded. By unidentified males. You, see again she happens to not have on shoes but. It's. Should. Be clear. That this work was done in overwhelmingly. Male context. At the, Massachusetts, Institute of Technology where. Of, course. She. Had, a she. Had a difficult, time. Navigating. Among. The hurdles, that were thrown down in front of her but she did it with, great. Skill and aplomb according, to those who around her so I think. There's a nice image the combination, of her sweater, and the situation. The dynamics, going on in this image. Okay. This is a third portrait. This is a self-portrait of Muriel Cooper she's the one on the right in the, image. This. Was made in 1967. This, was made in the context, of a, computer-aided. Design and programming class that Muriel Cooper had, audited. At MIT. In the department of mechanical engineering, this, class was taught by Nicholas Negroponte II, who went on to found the Media Lab at MIT. This. Image is, made. By a computer program as, you might guess. And in. Fact it's using an alphanumeric printer, kind of against itself to turn a new image making machine and we're. Well familiar with ASCII, art at, this point in 1967. Considerably, less so but, there's something there are a number of qualities about this image which I think are typical, of why her work is important, one, of which is. She. Had a tendency to kind of use the existing and, future looking. Tools. Against. Themselves to find out where the edges are and what we're where, it breaks what, works what are the possibilities, that haven't been outlined, yet, the. Second thing is she's she's, pictured, here together with her good, friend Donna Sade ondas who, is also a graphic design educator in Boston and a friend she studied together with the mass college of art in. Many of the images that I may show you either Muriel, Cooper won't be in them or else she'll be surrounded, by other people and, I think this is one perhaps, one. Reason why her work. Has. Relatively. Disappeared, since. 1994. And. She. It, doesn't file itself neatly under the kind of, name. Of a single great author, in fact, it's it's largely collaborative, the big the purple book is called Muriel, Cooper but, so much of the work inside is not directly her work rather, it's the work of her students, it's work that she facilitated, by setting up situations, and his work which jumped, over disciplinary, boundaries so it's kind of hard to file. Muriel. Cooper worked at MIT. For. 40 years she worked, in, well. It's it's easy enough to break down her work into three categories. She. First worked in design at MIT at the office, of publications, and then it's the first design director, of the MIT, press it was actually design and media director. She. Taught, in the School of Architecture beginning. In. 1974. Instigating.

In Class called messages and means and carrying on establishing. The visible language workshop which is a printing, and teaching and design workshop. Thirdly. In 1985. She was a founding faculty member, the MIT Media Lab. Originated. By a Nicholas Negroponte II she was one of several of the faculty who organized. This facility. And at that point she was working on computer interfaces, now, I. Think, if you probably, asked her to think. About those three words I think it would look something much more like this. Kind. Of all one activity, they were never discreet. And in fact when she was working, on books at. The MIT press she was thinking about how they might appear on screen or when she was making. A film of a book that I'll show later, she. Was thinking about how she might show that to students so is this kind of read over. Lapping and. Recursive. Feedback, loop between these activities, however, for ease of, communicating. The story we're going to leave it in its three parts so I'll start in design. In. 1962. The, technology. Press which. Was mi DS in-house, publishing, was. Switching their name to the MIT press and. The. Director, the press consulted. With Paul Rand a well-known American, graphic designer at the time and asked. If. He might consider doing their logo he said, maybe he can't do it but he could recommend some people he recommend Muriel Cooper to do it, okay. This is not the logo for the MIT press that Muriel Cooper designed, this. One is also not the, logo, for MIT press that Muriel Cooper designed, also, not the logo for MIT press these were all proposals, that Muriel, Cooper made she, was working as a freelance, designer. On. This assignment another. I think this could have been a great logo for MIT press but it was not the one that she designed, finally. This one's getting a bit closer to what eventually became one of her best-known works, in. Fact, when I started digging. Through, what exists, of the Muriel Cooper archive, at Massachusetts, College, of Art which is a bunch of bankers boxes with mixed materials, in there inside. Of one I found among, Reebok. High-tops, and VHS. Tapes and sheets of slides I found that kind of crumpled up piece of sketch. Paper, and, on that paper I recognized, down at the bottom what. Would become the, MIT, press logo, that's existed, for 50 years by this point which would indicate some, something about his success you, see the the, lines here. Are the set of books drawn axonometric, Lee on a shelf with, the fifth one pulled up and the sixth one pulled down. Here's. The final version. Of that if. You kind of squint your eyes or raise your raise. Your bar for abstraction. You'll, see MIT P which I'm sure we all see I. Think. This is one of my favorite pieces of graphic design, period. For. A number of reasons one of which is is. I. Suppose. The. Fact. That it has existed for 50 years is. A. Qualifier. But I like the fact that it looks it's a static, graphic but it looks like it's machine readable it. Looks like this is meant to be a barcode and something about that kind of equation, in. 1964. By this point that. Equation of books, and publishing, with electronic. Information and, machine. Readability, I think that's a super, strong insight, and typical, of why I think her works important. Okay. By. 1967. She became the first design and media director, of the, MIT press at. The MIT press she was overseeing, a. Ambitious. Publishing, program that, involved. Books like this, book which is a. Collection. Of. The. Papers delivered at a technical, conference or. This. Book which is by Seymour, Papert and Marvin, Minsky also cofounders, of the Media Lab a, book, about computational.

Geometry. Or. This book which is written by Nicholas Negroponte II, called the architecture, machine. Which. Was around early attempts to apply. Computers. And software to architectural, design. There. Is a. It. Was an ambitious, and important publishing program that she was dealing with this. Is another book that she designed while, at MIT press this is called Bauhaus. By. Mardis a Berlin Chicago, is published in 1969. It's. A big book as Meg, mentioned it's the same size as the purple thing on the table over there it's about 14 inches tall a hardback. Book it was originally published in German and translated, into English. This. Book was of special importance, to Muriel Cooper, the. Bauhaus, the important, design school, in Germany. And. Transferring. To the United States. That. Mixed hands on production, and. Teaching. And design and kind of overlapping, ways, was. She. Considered that her. Principal. Point of departure for her teaching and her designing, and her work she. Spent two years working. Designing. This book the, book included. Syllabi. And correspondence. And documentation, of this essential. Design. School that originated. Around the, Industrial. Revolution. And. This. Is the, first. Edition was popular second edition slightly. Smaller paperback, he, or she use the, offset printing, process which uses cyan magenta and yellow. In overlapping. Overprinting, forms to. To. Produce all the four color full-color. Images, here, she just shifts, the printing plates and what you're left with is a. Distinctive. Graphic that's the index, of the process, or register the process that made it and I think this is typical, on our work as well and something else that certainly drew me to, it it, it's, as focused, on the process. As it is on the product but not as and, not, in order to get a strange, or different product, but more as a kind of equivalency, between these things. The. Bauhaus the. Bauhaus was no abstraction, to Muriel, Cooper at this time in Cambridge. László. Moholy-nagy, who was at the Bauhaus had come to Chicago. To set, up the new Bauhaus which became Illinois Institute Technology, Institute of Design he, brought with him Georg E Kepesh who, went, on to head the school. In Chicago, and then came to MIT and Kepesh, brought, Muriel, Cooper in to work originally at the office of publication, so there's a direct lineage there as well, Walter Gropius who was running. The Bauhaus previously, was down Massachusetts. Avenue running the Graduate School of Design at Harvard so this was a there's a direct connection it was not. Looking. From a distance. When. This book was done two, years lavished. Of time on it the, MIT press did something that was kind of surprising. They, launched a publicity campaign, to. Announce, and promote, this important. Book and for. That for example they designed a letterhead I mean your whole Cooper designed a letterhead they. Also designed posters this is like a 36-inch, poster. Giant, blow-up with that self-portrait of moholy-nagy, but. Where the halftone. Screen is exaggerated. To call attention to the kind of mode of production that. That, this is using and. It's. Strange, to imagine that, you might design. And publish a poster, to sell books. I'm. Not sure how many books it sold but this is the kind of play. That was going on I think often within Cooper's. Work, it's. The second poster design, same size this. Includes every every. Spread, in the book. But this was done analog so each one of those is a piece of film and reduced. To fit on this on this large format here we see a kind of detail and, I, expect what she was hoping to get to from, this was. To imagine. What it would be like to kind of simultaneously. Understand. This book, to. See the images that are kind of more. Exaggerated. Speed than what we were used to at this moment it's, a way to kind of interrogate, to prod the media. When. She finished the book she. Did something else she. Made. A film of, the book where she spent. Three. Frames, for. Every spread in the book made, a 16 millimeter film which I'm gonna let play right here this is a recreation. Of the film that, was made for the exhibition, that meg mentioned, at Columbia, organized. By Robert Watson Berger and myself. What. You see here is the material, of the, book flowing, through the page grid or kind of template, of that. Determines. Its design and she, was already talking about the fact that once digital, information was more prevalent it, would come too fast and, we'd need templates. And ways to automate the, the, presentation, of that material and this is a different, idea, than. What existed, working in a press. And on on books she also made this film in order to show her students, to get them to think about the way that a grid plays out every time. Okay. Finally, in. 1979. MIT press organized, an exhibition called books mm, looking forward to what books would be in the year 2000, and she. Was asked to put the Bauhaus book in there and this is what she offered.

Which Was the raw manuscript. Of the book and, that stood in place for the book which I love it kind. Of amazing, so. Just a stack of papers the original typewritten manuscript. Some. Of the other books that were passing through the press at the time include a primer of visual literacy by donna SE Dantas who we saw in the self portrait ASCII. Art, this. Is a graphic design textbook and his thirty third printing, another. Book is file under architecture, which he did with Herbert Mousawi became the architecture critic of the New York Times this. Book was produced with a IBM. Selectric, typewriter to do the typesetting, for it. She published this book. Compendium. For Lydia literate by a Swiss designer, and artist Karl Gerstner it, was around text. And typography as a kind of graphic event. Translated. Into English now. At the MIT press there were too many books as well. To. Give much attention to every book and so, a large part of what she did was think through the publishing, and design system, that existed there and she developed pages, and pages as far as we could, Robert. And I could discern. Pages. And pages of. Schemes. For, how books would pass through the press so here's a pretty legible. One that, begins with from. Easy to complicated, from. Camera-ready, to, difficult. And they, would, engage different, amounts of kind of design and layout, and, editing. Production. Resources, within the press and, the result of that was that a rather, high level of design across all the books even books that were, proceeding. From. Academic. Conferences like this one thirty-six lectures the biology, would still have, a strong, high level of design on them and this is what made the program so strong. Here's. A computer. Software manual, here's another software, manual, where we're computer, we're typewriter. Type is simply blown up to make the cover, and. Finally, here's a last. Book I'm going to show it's, not unimportant the subject, matter of the books that were coming through the press because she was engaging with this material and reading it and this helped helped. Arrange. Her, move into her next kind of phase within, MIT. In. 1974. Muriel. Cooper was was. Introduced. To. Ron McNeill Ron. Was a photographic. Assistant, at MIT Ron, had a. Four. Color offset press, which, is a large printing, press. About. Half, the size of the stage I would guess and.

There. They, immediately. Made a connection and thought it would be amazing to teach a class around, this press where students were not only learning about design but actually making the printed work and learning about how to run printer and etc. They. Began. Teaching. A class in the department of architecture at, MIT. Called messages, and means this was the original poster which announced, that class, that. Class. This. Poster was made. In. A using. A method that she gave as an assignment, often which. Was to use the same printing, plate and over. Print by. Rotating, the, sheet. Of paper each, time it goes through the press so you get kind of overlapping. Rotated. Images. On top of each other the. Press was also, I mean the. That. Offset press was also used to print posters for events that are having to MIT for. Example, this which. Is the maker at the mechanical. Artwork the film actually, for, this, poster, which was announcing. Travelling. Art exhibition, originating. In. My team. Here. Are, a group of students gathered, around the press and messages and means I, found. This image some way into the kind, of meandering. Research process, and I was really happy to see that asterisk, poster up, behind. In the top, left of this image. Which. Was a nice loop back to finding the real thing originally. The. Students, were involved hands-on printing, I mean you can imagine this might be a maybe, a liability nightmare, in today's. University. But it was not at the time. There. Is a both. The hands-on there's, a, do-it-yourself. Ethic, that was that was also manifested. In, the assignments, and the way that the students work they apparently kept all hours in this space and. As. Well what they're doing in there they were doing it self-consciously. So here this is Ron McNeal in the center of this image and he's working with the offset press and. Cleaning. It up or adjusting, something and while he's doing that he's being recorded. Video recorded, on a Sony porta pack video camera which would be in brand-new at this point it recorded in black and white whose hand held completely. Radical. Image. Making technology, and then all of this was being recorded by somebody with it with the camera 30 a camera, from the other side so, there's absolutely although, they were hands-on, making this they're also aware that what they were doing was.

Interesting. Or worth, worth. Thinking about anyway, worth representing. The. Messages, means class was, overwhelmingly. Popular and the, next year, McNeal. And Cooper, founded, autonomous. Center within the School of Architecture called, the visible language workshop, it. Was centered around the printing press they offered a couple of additional classes. This. Became more what Muriel Cooper was spending the bulk of her days doing this, is a dummy for the letterhead for the visible, language workshop. What. You see here, is here's. A printed version of it what. You see is a, kind. Of ham-fisted. Brushstroke. But, then which is filled in with a split. Fill, split. Fountain printing, process that Grady eighths from from, red to blue and it's what is something you can only do on the press that's why this mock-up only shows that kind of working, like this, and. Again I think it's typical of thinking design through its kind of production. Needs. Here, another. Version that letterhead that. Letterhead. Is well reproduced, well on a on a Xerox machine in fact they offered a class invisible language workshop called electrostatics. Which, is about Xerox machines because this was a new image making technology it, had the quality of making immediate. Prints. You, could work on it change your mind make another thing change. Your mind work on it and this kind of quick. Feedback. Loop was, something she was always, desiring. Of the kind of graphic tools she was working with in. 1980. Muriel. Cooper and Ron McNeil were asked to submit, an article for, department. Of architecture in house journal called plan and. That. Was opposed to be about like what's going on in the visible language workshop and. Instead. Of responding, with the set of images or student works or something like this, Cooper. Decided, to. Respond. A different way so this is actually the first page of the article and, this. Was a letter back to the editor. And the, letter said, I'm. Gonna read a little couple excerpts from it she says we're not going to give you an article. With a collection of image images of student work you, know instead. The. Following are the the. Article will fulfill the following criteria number. One it would make use of the tools processes, and technologies, of graphic arts media as directly. As possible and tools. Will be integrated, with concept, and product, number. Two the. Author would be the maker, contrary. To the specialization. Mode which makes the author of the content the author the, author of the forum the designer and the author of the craft the typographer, or printer, number. Three visual. And verbal representation. Of the idea would be synthesized. Rather than separate and number. Four this is the important one I think time. Would remain as fluid and immediate, as possible, leaving. Room for feedback and change she. Signs off the letter and a kind of, beautiful. Turn of phrase she says this, stands, as a sketch for the future, signs, it, here. Is a spread, from inside that article there several spreads they, were black. And white high contrast, images. Just as described in that in that text, they were made, in the workshop now. On, doing, the research I. Was, really excited to come, across this. Page. Which, is actually. A mocked. Up a revised. Version of the letter that she eventually, printed. As the first page of that article that art that letter was supposed to look off-the-cuff, right but, of course she worked it and. So here are her own Corrections, and notes on that and if you even get up to the top left, you see it says, sketch. If you will for the future and. I think this document, it's kind of markups, and changes, and feedback, and different overlaps. Of printing. And production technologies. Within. It are, a kind. Of good, way to read, a lot of the intent in her other work okay. Now. A visible language workshop was not just printing presses at the time even from 1974. There. Is photographic. There's a darkroom and photographic. Equipment like a large format Xerox, cam. There, is as well a proto. Photoshop, that Ron McNeil had developed with engineering. Students it was called sis and it, allowed direct pixel. By pixel manipulation. Of, digital, images this is something completely, radical. At the time, here's. Ron sitting in front of sis. Assist. As well I had what they called a scanner which is really a digital camera to get images into the system and it, also included, a large format inkjet printer which called the billboard plotter which you see beyond him, I.

Think This image gives some idea of the kind of what it was like in the workshop workshop was a series of three rooms makes. Of analog and digital technologies. And kind of no boundaries, between these things lots. Of activity, as far as I could understand. But. It was all towards an end of making. Responsive. Iterative. Graphic. Tools for image making so, here's a diagram. Perhaps notional, of the. Electronic, equipment that was in the visible language workshop in the way it the way it went together it included. For example a five hundred thousand dollar PerkinElmer. Computer. 300, megabyte disk drive and so on and so forth now. Cooper. Made this image using a collection, of that, image. Making material. Now, this image was the two images that are of Muriel. Cooper here, started. Out as video images made in 1974, captured, on Sony porta pack those. Images. Were digitized, into and. Assists, into that electronic, image, manipulation software, they. Were then 10. Years later. Transmitted. Down the hall at MIT from one room to another over something got a slow scan transmission, which they see a color fax same, way they sent images from the moon and then. Finally, those images, were displayed on a pair of stacked monitors, and then, that that whole. Contraption, was photographed, with a 30 by 40 inch very large Polaroid. Camera, to give you this image where you see like the chemical, peel of the instant Polaroid. You see the scan lines from the CRT. Monitors, you, see miroku. / wearing a Polaroid, camera and sx-70. Which would brand-new in 1974. Around, her neck in fact it's even replacing, one of her eyes and, the. Best the thing I like the most about is the fact that in. One image she's, making a photograph of the person taking the video of her and the next image that image is out of her camera getting ready to develop and if we could just just. Out of frame we'd see the person who was actually recording in which I never figured out but we never figured out who it was in. 1985.

Muriel. Cooper was asked, by Nico's negroponte II. It. Was in the department of architecture and, he, was founding, the Media, Lab at MIT Muriel. Cooper was invited as one of the founding. Faculty to establish, a. Research. Unit within it now. What. I understand from the invitation was that, she. Was asked to consider giving her, group a new name not the visible language workshop she steadfastly, refused she said you, know it's even though we're gonna be working on computer interfaces, like it's. The same kind it's the same concerns that I've been thinking about both at, MIT press and with the teaching it's, all the same thing so she insisted, on can continue. At the visible language workshop named now. The MIT Media Lab. Was. As, Negroponte, II described it. If. The Bauhaus was a design, school for the Industrial, Age and the media lab was to be a design school for the Information Age here. We see in. Here's an inside of one of the rooms it was in a new. Building designed by IM Pei on the campus of MIT. It. Consisted. Of stacked. Floors, of drop ceiling spaces, with lots. Of CRT monitors, here. And there carpet, etc here's, Miriah Cooper and Ron McNeal in the space of the visible length of the visible, language workshop at the Media Lab, when. They moved into the space they originally insisted that there would be heavy power. In order to bring in the printing presses but they got so interested in the. In. The screens that they never brought in any of the analog printing, material, some. Of the work they were doing there. Included, reports, such as this proposal, called books without pages, which, imagines what it would mean to have a. Type. On the screen essentially. It. Includes, ideas. About page flipping interfaces. Dynamic. Text which communicates, by the way that it changes over time they, were working with a space, at the Media Lab called the media room which was an immersive, media. Environment. All centered, around a Eames lounger, chair, and which, included, a projected, wall size interface. Smaller. Touchscreen, interface, trackpads. Built into the, built. Into the arms. Of the chair and, the. Interfaces, as well I had. Qualities. That we we, can recognize now like skeuomorphic, forms, of the, objects. Of these things were meant to replicate I, want. To play a little bit this is a short clip of some of the research that was going on it and the visible. Language workshop at the time. One. Is, the way. In which. Graphics. Which we define in the broadest sense can, be used.

To. Filter define. Qualify. And edit that, information, and secondly. What the. Interface for. The relation, at the surface, are the access of the, person, to the machine can. Be like to promote, the most creative, and most. Generative, means of communication, we, made your concern at the vlw is determining, ways in which one can relate to the computer, much in the same manner as you went to a friend or an assistant, in, the short-run what, we've begun to do is study, ways. In which rules. Can. Be, modeled. To, the machine so that that machine will then begin, to assume, some, responsibility. For work. Which is repetitive. Or. Describable. Working. On the system which employs, a rule-based, to assist, in the process of graphic design and text layout, to. Do this we're using an expert system development, - we'll call cast and, we've chosen the. Design of business cards to serve as a case study. Financial. Advertising. Art, or. Science. Advertising. Position. Do you hold. Management. What, is your company's, financial, scale medium. Would. You. Like to rotate progressive. Please. Wait like, and creative, given. The internal, rules that we've put into the system it's, decided, that this particular layout, is appropriate, for me based on the answers I gave it. Okay. So it's funny yes but, but, even with some distance if you can erase that kind of nostalgia. And I mean just plain, humor, that's in it you. Can see, an. Exploration of the desire of what, we what, we want those interfaces to do and how we want them to behave and how we want them to relate to graphic, design even if these are paths kind of not taken and a lot of this work existed. But it was it, existed, in tentative, in media, formats which would fall away quickly, which, is main. Motivation. And kind of collecting, this together both into a book and into. The exhibition and, documenting. The work at. The Media Lab Cooper, did not write very often but, she did edit one issue of design quarterly, out of the Walker Art Center it was on computers and design and on the cover. She. Used. A software, program to do nine different versions of the cover which are reproduced on the cover they. Also were exploring, what they. Called it the ultimate designer, workstation. And how. We might, use. Screens. And input devices to, do graphic design. In. An, iterative responsive. Way, now. This is an image that was as an image from the vo W also about same time it's a large format Polaroid. Kind of like that other one but, this image started, out in sis started out digital and, never and. Remained, digital. And. I, it was, what. I like so much about there's. A great insight the mural Cooper had I think maybe one of her strongest which. Early, on this is late. 1970s. She said well in time. Digital. Images are gonna stay on the screen and they're gonna have a life of their own through networks I mean it sounds like I, mean. Well of course we know that right but. At the time we did not know that and the way in which she pushed that through and made this. Image, for example to, kind of stand as a pointer, towards that idea, I'm, just nearly, done, we're gonna watch the last thing which is, Muriel. Cooper introducing. That TED talk where we started and will, let the video that she showed to. Do, something that seemed relatively. Intuitive. And. In. Order to say. What. If we did this then, what. Would happen but to really visualize this, stuff in, a tight and iterative, loop and as because that we could so, we're, looking for the design principles. We're. Not at all who or what they are then. She proceeded to show this this. Work which is called the, information, landscapes, and it, was a. Proposal. For an immersive typographic. And environment. The user navigates, their way through that, uses. Relationships. Three-dimensional. Relationships, in space to, articulate. Relationships. That might be. Communicated. On a two-dimensional, surface by bold and roman or typed size or other kind of typographic relationships. And so, this this. Interface in a lot of ways collected. Her ideas about the. User and the reader having, some degree of agency, in the design and orientation, the materials that they're using it, it. Leveraged. Off of traditional. Graphic design knowledge but then rethought. It in a completely. New. Manner as, I described this work had a large, impact when it was shown and she traveled around showing, it, elsewhere. This. Was in 1994. In, February 1994, she returned back, to Cambridge, after a trip to England and. Died. Unexpectedly of, a heart attack. The. The, work in the meantime, I. Feel. Like hasn't been. Replicated. Or communicated. Or dealt, with. To. The degree that I thought it would. And. I. I think it's an open question as to why that's the case certainly the. When. She died was, must. Be part of it but it must be part of a larger story about how, it's.

Difficult To. File the work under existing categories, that's. One thing, what. A design practice might look like that's, that's. Made with other people, and that. Is doesn't. Sit in neatly. Defined disciplinary. Boundaries. Thanks. David that was great. So, I want to just start this off. Looking. At this image because this was my way into Morel, Cooper I saw. The photo, before I, knew. Of her or had seen her work and. Was immediately drawn to it for, all of the reasons, that you had. Previously. Said she is barefoot. She's. Surrounded. By unidentified, men. As you put it so. I wanted to ask you how you came to Mario's work. What was your way in. My. Way into her work was. Twofold. I. Originally. I was, when, I first start working in graphic design I was working at IDEO, in San Francisco and from 1995, 1997. I was, working for a media. Lab student, named Geeta Solomon, who was head of interaction, design there and I. Was hired as an interaction, designer and I didn't even even quite know what that meant I was barely a graphic, designer at that point and. However. At IDEO, there, is a hotbed. Of activity around that. Emerging. Field and a, lot of it centered around Muriel, Cooper's work either people who had gone to the Media Lab or people who knew it etc so, that that's that's, when I was originally introduced to it and then I came back to it when in. 2006. I think 2005-2006. When, I was working, doing graphic design for the MIT Center for Advanced visual studies, and that, was I, went, up there and found a closet full of posters that had a inventory. Listing. Of what all the things they had done at the, place over the years and they, were exceptional, posters, and I thought oh these must have been designed by Muriel Cooper if I knew she was around and etc and so, that, piqued, my interest and, I started to look into it turns out none of them were designed by Muriel Cooper but. She printed most of them so again it's kind of like the sideways, and, then, anybody that that drew me into the work and that became a fellowship, with MIT and then. Led, to a small. Original. Text and then to it then with Robert wiesen burger it turned into an exhibition and then with Rob as well the book. I. Also. Wanted to ask you about the, books epigraph, which is a quote from Muriel, Cooper, that. Says I guess I'm never sure that print is truly, linear, and. That's a quote that she gave Janet, Janet Abrams in that I D story. What's. The significance of. This quote for you and Robert why. Did you choose, to start the book that way. I'm. Pretty sure as Rob who thought of it as the epigraph in the book and I said that's fantastic. But why why. It was appealing, was that has the circular. Quality, of the way that she speaks and thinks and so, it's like she, says. She. Admits, to doubt in the statement you know it's not like she says books, are not truly linear print, is not truly linear she says I'm not I'm, not convinced, right and so, it's. That kind of productive, doubt that runs through her work and it sounds, like typical. Of how she would speak, it. Seems like a great way to. Slight. A lightly, perverse, way to start a, giant. Hardback monograph. I like. That I think that right, before that quote in that interview - she she. Had she, was reversing, something that she said right she said print, was linear and then she goes back and says, I'm. Never quite sure so, I see that circle. Of doubt. So. You frame, your essay in the book around, seven, artifacts. And. You. Zero in on those pieces to tell a particular story about, Muriel's, work as a whole.

I'm. Wondering, if, outside. Of those seven pieces that you feature in the book are, there any that just didn't make the cut any edge, cases that, we. Should know about. There. Are so, much so. Many. There's, so many that just didn't fit because of space and, that it, the. Work, that's in the archive probably is of quite uneven, quality and. So, sometimes they were picked for the, subject matter as much as for the kind of graphic design or whatever interest, in them. I'd. Say we scratched. The surface, her. Work was extremely, well documented. In, terms of collected. It. Wasn't organized, at the time although Massachusetts. College of Art where the Muriel Cooper archive is has, done incredible. Work to put it together and then they were very generous with, us giving, us access and pulling things and reproducing, things and. And. Then last, question and then I'll open that up to you, guys to ask, some. Questions and, the the, mics over to the side. Can. You talk about the influence, that Muriel, Cooper's work has had on your own work. Okay. I. Think. As I was as I was describing. In the, talk. She. Was always interested, in. Both. Doing the work and being. Aware. Of doing the work or kind, of interrogating. What it is to do the work and I. Think that's something that I've borrowed, quite, a lot from from. Her, model, and, which. Is a degree, of kind of reflexivity. In the, in like. Doing design, and how it gets done and this. Is not for. The sake of, introspection. Or anything like this but rather it's to productively. Kind, of question, assumptions that exist and so. So. That's certainly one way that she's influenced. Me and I think the second. Way that the, second, kind of direct influence. She. Had is. Is. Just. Through. Imagining. Interfaces. That were, completely. Real-time. And that, that, kind of evolved, with a with. The point of view of the person using it and that's something, that we know well now. Didn't know well, even when I started working mm-hmm. Alright. Anybody else have questions for, David hi. I just, wondered, after. Her death what. Happened, to, the. Visible. Language. Laboratory and were there people who could actually continue. Her work or did it really stop, with her death, there. Were people and there were her students, Ron McNeal is still living that was her partner in the visible language workshop. There. Were all of her students, continued, and. Left. And kind of create this diaspora. Of, vlw. Work. For. Example Lisa Straus Feld was there at the time she's gone on to do lots of things with in graphic, design proper. The. There. Are students who didn't. Directly, study under her but studied after her in. What became the physical language workshop, under, John Maeda like, Ben Frey who, have gone on to do lots of work so. It continued, but it continued. Like. The kind of sudden hole so. I think that changed, things I was. Just looking at the work again, and sort of realizing how, radical. It still looks to today, how, unexpected. And. I just wanted to know. I mean often when the future gets here it, arrives in kind of a normal way or an expected, way and I just what do you think about radical, interfaces, now. I. Wonder. If it's a I wonder if it's, partly. A factor, of her working in an academic context. You. Know I think I think yes the work does look radical it didn't look like anything else that existed, when it when.

It Emerged. And. I. Think I, think. That is partly to do with her kind of finding, a unique. Line, through, graphic. Design and interface design that other people weren't following I mean, I understand, that she would always watch, cartoons. On Saturday mornings. Because. That kind of animation was interesting, to her for her work no I didn't know what not that it looked like that but, that all the techniques, of how. You abstract. Out and use graphics, to filter information, you, know play things out dynamically, every time so. It's like you know she might have said that was a radical interface, I. Have. No idea about radical, interfaces, now other, than. Of. Course in a commercial, situation, it's it's more, challenging, to. To. Introduce. Something that doesn't have a precedent because it relies. On all the conventions, that exist. So. The radical things have to be radical in one way and not radical, at all in another way right, I'm. Just curious for your thoughts, given, that so. Many of the people who came after a mural Cooper. They are interaction, designers, they sometimes self-identify, as artists, what do you think is. Her. Ultimate legacy, is there a way to tidally. Tie, that up, given. That. We're in a room full of UX designers, today yeah. I. Think. Our presence is most felt with in graphic. Design as they kind of transfers, over to. Interaction. Design. So. So. I suppose, and so I don't think her legacy is. Visible. At all in art let's say even, if some of the people who she influenced, kind of went on in that or identified, in that direction. I think, her background in training was graphic design so that's where the work is kind of legible, so, I think probably her legacy exists. In. Lots. Of graphic designers today all you, know most graphic designers today who are working, on. Screen, as the as the destination. So, it's a dispersed, legacy, no no no it's not a. It's. Certainly not easy, to, identify it. Concretely. But. They're they're concrete parts to it like for. Example at the architecture. Machine group at the beginning of the 1970s. They're developing anti-aliased type it's, every time it C type on the screen that's blurred in order to make it sharper that came from there or, interfaces. That use. Kind of immediate. Feedback. To, acknowledge. Kind, of user input and that that, gap between when the action, happens and its corresponding effect, on-screen was reduced reduced is directly, comes from heart works. I'm. Actually, curious to know maybe these are two questions but they're, actually one I'm curious to know what, the graphic design community thought of Mary Cooper. I mean. Graphic, design until very recently seems to be still a little bit fearful of computers, I mean coding, isn't. Even taught in most graphic design programs, I, recall, reading a little bit of Paul ran and him being sort of very very, skeptical. Of what computers could do in the early design process, and I wonder how Muriel communicated. The value of computers, or new interfaces, in, the. More. Pure graphic design world I mean I'm sure she felt right in a mighty yeah. We do a lot but how, about outside of that yeah. You. Know I think. What. She never learned how to program she. Tried a bunch of times and kind of never it, was not something that she was, wanted. To spend enough time to, engage, with even though and she. Was consistently, frustrated, apparently by how slow computers, were no matter what no matter what newest computer is always like you know she was cursing up a storm saying. Saying. His computer's too slow so I. Also, understand, that she would like, insist. On breaking out conversations. Of design, from, technology, which sounds funny in retrograde but. At, least if Strauss Feld has mentioned that that was that. Was. A opening. Distinction. For her because, you could talk about the way something worked and felt and what it should do in absence, of what it can do or you. Know cannot, do so. I, think, by, making probably by making that distinction it helped her have. A clearer. Foothold, in the graphic design community but I also think her work is necessarily, messy. It's not like tidy. Graphic. Design and so she, was embraced but. But. I I expect. There's a bit of skepticism as. Well within that community I'll say.

Okay. Looks like we're out of time I think so thanks. David thank you. You.

2018-03-07 00:01

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