or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 3/28/10

   April 3rd, 2010

1040 starsThis isn't really a reference question, but it is a question from a patron. It's, well, you decide:

Patron: Have you see the monk hidden on the cover of the tax forms?

As Liz Lemon would say, "what the what?" The patron explained, somewhat cryptically, that the negative space between the stars on this year's 1040 instruction booklet cover design seemed to form a monk.

Can you see it? Hover your mouse over the image to see what he was talking about. It's slightly easier to see on a larger animated version on flickr.

I saw it after he pointed it out, but personally, I think it looks more like Darth Vader. The conspiracist in me knows it's not unusual that secret symbols appear in government printing, but they're usually more Masonic than Imperial (but maybe the stars were just to much to resist).

There must be a word for this - hidden pictures formed by positive space shapes. This is sort of like the distorted tessellations in MC Escher's art, but not quite. I looked around but couldn't find a name or description, so I'll keep looking.

In the meantime, if you're interested, here are a few examples of logos employing negative space.

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6 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 3/28/10”

  1. Chris Says:

    I think that might be pushing it…

  2. Julie Says:

    That’s totally Darth Vader. And I, for one, will NOT be filling out my census form, lest the imperial dark lord find out many secret things about me that he can then use against me in one of his many nefarious plots!!

  3. Winnie Says:

    I don’t know, looks like a girl with a nice bob to me. Or perhaps Prince Valliant. Has anyone found any other cryptic picures – the “monk” is pretty small so there is lots of space for people to see other things.

  4. Anne Says:

    Tough call there! I saw Darth Vader, but the Prince Valliant call is genius…

    Definitely NOT a monk though.

  5. Liz Says:

    I can see maybe a kid with short hair sitting cross-legged, but a monk?


    At best, it’s a Frangelico bottle.

    Alcoholic? Me? Never!

    I’m IRISH.

  6. alison Says:

    darth vader it is, brian!