Muriel Cooper ·
Information Landscapes


︎︎︎ Information Landscapes at TED5
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In 1973, Muriel Cooper founded the Visible Language Workshop (VLW) at MIT, where she played a pivotal role in the exploration of computer graphics and typography in modern design. The principal mission of the VLW was to develop design strategies and devices for manipulating information in dynamic contexts. In 1985, the VLW was amalgamated with MIT’s Architecture Machine Group and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies to form the MIT Media Lab, which became one of the most influential centres for the study of artificial intelligence in the world. 

One of Cooper’s key areas of interest was responsive design systems, incorporating feedback (in the cybernetic sense) into the design process—feedback that responded dynamically to the environment (space and context) of the design. She also focused on layering information, again using 3D space (advancing, receding, rotating) as a key design element. 

Today, it is hard to imagine a time before 3D graphic design, but Cooper was the leading proponent of a new field of visual design. Her work broke the flat space of conventional design and replaced it with a new interface that had depth and movement, and was responsive to input. Concepts such as “behavioural graphics,” “intelligent type,” and “on-the-fly-scaling” required complex algorithms and powerful computers to be realized, and Cooper relied on the most sophisticated graphics computers and programmers of the day to achieve her vision.

Text To Speech

Muriel Cooper and the Visible Language Workshop, Information Landscapes (video still), 1994