John Maeda The Reactive Square 1994

  • Not on view

Maeda is a graphic designer, artist, and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. In his work computation is a powerful method for uniting expressive and analytical thought. His designs, generated directly from written algorithmic code, have influenced the way the Internet and digital media look today. Maeda's Reactive Books, a series of five printed books with digital components on disc, are seminal works of interactive design and are poems of human-computer interaction.

The Reactive Square, the first Reactive Book, is an adaptation of Kazimir Malevich's painting Black Square (1915) for the dynamism and motion of the digital realm. It presents nine compositions that translate sound into motion graphics. Maeda's children provided the impetus for this project; he sought a way to simplify their interactions with the computer. Rather than awkwardly manipulating a mouse or keyboard, a user of The Reactive Square simply talks into a microphone and the square reacts and morphs in response.

In all, the Reactive Books compile fifty–two compositions that explore a spectrum of expressive possibilities for interactive media. The second book, Flying Letters, is a compilation of interactive typographic pieces. The third book, 12 o’ Clocks, explores the theme of time by implementing time-based behavior into motion graphics. Tap, Type, Write, the fourth book, pays homage to the typewriter through the computer keyboard. A fifth, unpublished book, called Mirror Mirror, uses video input as a means of interaction.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 138.
Medium
.1: Vellum cover with letterpress typographic design on front; 32 letterpress illustrations; letterpress text includes typographic designs and page tabs. .2: Compact disc for use on computer
Dimensions
.1 book: 6 3/8 x 4 1/2 x 1/4" (16.2 x 11.4 x 0.6 cm) .2 disc: diam. 3 1/8" (7.9 cm)
Credit
Gift of the designer with additional support from Samsung
Object number
460.2006.1-2
Copyright
© 2019 John Maeda
Department
Architecture and Design

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