WIth so many clever language experiments on exhibition in MoMA's "Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language," it makes sense that the exhibition catalogue would be equally cheeky and avant garde. So instead of taking the traditional check list approach, introduced by the appropriate essays and commentary, of course, MoMA commissioned David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey of the design group Dexter Sinister (whose work is also in the show) to come up with something a little more enlightened.
Reinfurt and Bailey decided to make the catalogue the third issue of their journal Bulletins of the Serving Library, which continues the legacy of Dot Dot Dot, their "previous house journal which ran for ten years and twenty issues." The catalogue/issue acts not as a compendium but a companion piece with thirteen essays, articles and visual works. It begins with "MMMMMMMMMMMM...," by Andrew Blum, which appeared in The New York Times in 2003 under the title "The Modern's Other Renovation." It's about MoMA's history of logo redesign, beginning with the controversial 1966 decision to lower the upper case "O" and continuing to Yoshio Taniguchi's subtle 2004 redesign. (Did you know that the little "o" was initially so unpopular that it wasn't officially used for twenty years?)
To give you a sense of the rest of the catalog, Blum's article is followed by Bruno Latour's essay "How To Do Words With Things" and Graham Meyer's "Let's Eat Grammar." Chris Evan's untitled contribution spells out ETHICAL MOP, one letter per page, and Jessica Winter's essay "Brought To You By The Letter I" is preceded by an image of the big round googly eyes shared by every character in Sesame Street. Dexter Sinister write the last story themselves, a dense piece about the meeting point between mathematic and typeface design. This is followed by ads, but they're the nicest, most pleasant ads you've ever seen, designed like works of art accompanied by their museum cards. There's a lot more, including a pull-out reproduction of Robert Smithson's "A Heap of Language," and yes, a concise exhibition check list. Usually issues of Bulletins of the Serving Library are $15, and this one's only $5, so you really should just get one of your own.