Monthly Archives: July 2011

Design error or hidden message? The Dark Knight Rises teaser poster

Look at this poster. Look closer. Now those of you who see a giant unicorn in Gotham City’s skyline, raise your hand. For those who didn’t immediately make it out, maybe viewing the image as an icon will help:


While fans across the globe eagerly received the recently released teaser poster for the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman series, a few of us were left scratching our heads, wondering if the illusion was intended by Warner Bros to hint at the next big action franchise (perhaps something along the lines of Charlie the Unicorn:  The Ascent) or merely an overlooked design error.

Interestingly, the franchise has a history of releasing ambiguous  teaser posters. The following image for 1989’s Batman had audiences wondering what those big gold baby teeth had to do with Tim Burton’s upcoming film.

The art for Burton’s 1992 follow up, Batman Returns, faired no better, being recalled and replaced following mass audience confusion.

Having now been exposed to the above symbols for two decades, it’s difficult to understand the confusion. However we must remember that we tend to perceive dark areas as the ‘ground’ against which lighter ‘figures’ stand out. (Remember the old ‘two faces or a vase’ optical illusion?)

Given the importance of social media to the entertainment industry (/the world), and the importance of thumbnails to social media, it seems that scale is as important as ever.  Make an image smaller and you’ll notice that in addition to the obvious loss of detail,  perception is affected, the contents often become more realistic and  certain aspects take prominence. In the absence of further detail, the Gestalt perceptual principle of ‘Figure and Ground’ gets to work.

Who knew that all this new technology would actually give us reason to dig out the old, dusty textbooks and brush up on our theory?

(see what we did there)


Since its June 28 launch, we’ve found it difficult to open a browser without seeing articles, posts, status updates and Tweets discussing the countless merits and drawbacks of Google+.

Once commentators recovered from questioning the world’s need for yet another major social network, the discussion inevitably came to focus on the Facebook/Google+ battle, or, Will Google+ Kill Facebook?

Not likely, say some critics.  Facebook already has 750 million users, many of whom were social media newbies and not necessarily open to another network, what with the inevitable concerns over privacy, time commitment and social status brought on by each new sign up.

When it comes to social media, we at Mustard are willing devotees, making use of its personal, educational and professional benefits. Frankly, social media is as entertaining as it is useful and its capacity for connecting people is huge (whatever Malcolm Gladwell says). However, even we are able to weigh in on the Google+ anxiety debate.

Without getting too Orwellian, there’s comfort to be found in storing personal data across at least two megacorporations. With Gmail inboxes already holding so much information and Google’s previous privacy problems, Facebook’s independence counts for something.

Perhaps more worrying to some users is the status anxiety brought on by social networking, in which others’ profiles (therefore, lives) look WAY! MORE! EXCITING! than your own.

Then there’s the unease over time commitment, which is inevitably and contradictorily felt when one spends either too much time on social networks or too little. Leaving lengthy periods between logins can lead to such dire consequences as missing an event to which you’ve been invited or, horror of horrors, the ability to un-tag yourself in a compromising (read: unattractive) photo.

Similar concerns apply to professional use of social media. Companies who wish to use social media – and let’s face it, that should be everyone these days – should be prepared to update regularly (though the definition of this is flexible). As we all know from personal experience, accessing a company’s page only to find old or outdated information often leads to frustration and a quick getaway.

So, back to Google+. With an estimated 10 million signed up in its first two weeks (and an expectation for that figure to double by the end of this week), Google+ will obviously be in the news for some time yet. Will it eclipse Facebook? Only time will tell. Though in the meantime, let’s not worry about it.