Molecular typography is the study of the chemical and biological underpinnings of type. Woody Leslie has spent a year researching this obscure corner of science where biochemistry meets typography. Leslie will present his research, including a detailed dissection of H.F. Henderson’s seminal work, Understanding Molecular Typography. The basics of molecular typography will be explained through lecture and diagrams, followed by an analysis of the ramifications of living type in our daily lives. A Q&A will follow the presentation.
Leslie explains that all typographic characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.) are not just symbols, but actual living organisms. Seven basic typtoms–the atomic units of type–bond in various different ways and combinations to form print as we know it, from microscopic legal disclaimers, to billboard sized highway ads. Molecular typography explains the physics and chemistry behind it, but only opens the doors to the all the ethical questions that follow. What does it mean to write with living organisms, from the standpoint of ethical/environmental responsibility, or even just semantic meaning?
Woody Leslie is a graduate student at Columbia College in the Book & Paper MFA program. Initial hobby pursuits of typography led to an accidental discovery of molecular typography, and an entire rerouted course of serious study. He’s excited to finally share his research with the public, and ask others the ethical questions he’s been pondering himself for months.
Understanding Understanding Molecular Typography
Monday May 4, 6:30 p.m.
1104 S Wabash, room 302