Understanding Molecular Typography by H.F. Henderson
Offset printed, hand-bound artist’s book
6” x 4”, edition of 100
Molecular typography is the study of the chemical and physical underpinnings of letters. All characters are formed from seven basic atomic building blocks, known as typtoms. These typtoms come together in various combinations and configurations to form letters, numbers, and punctuation. Typtoms are not just theoretical tools for exploring the anatomy of type, but actual particles. Letters are molecules.
Understanding Molecular Typography is a book by H.F. Henderson, published in 1992, designed as an introduction to molecular typography for the layman. Part primer, part field guide, it lays out the basic principles, followed by detailed diagrams of the molecular formation of letters, numbers, and punctuation. A conclusion sums up the field of molecular typography to date, and a glossary and list of further reading provides valuable reference for the reader looking to learn more.
Understanding Molecular Typography is a work of fiction, from the science itself straight through the author who wrote the book. Rather than taking a narrative shape like most fiction,it takes the form of a textbook. But like all fiction, it employs the principle of “willingsuspension of disbelief” as a method to explore alternate reality. By co-opting the form of a scientific work, it serves to question the very authority of such a form to begin with. Though its core is solidly absurd, the questions the work raises are far from silly.