Tag Archives: Optical Illusion

Melting Sculpture Illusion by Takeshi Murata

May 28th, 2014 | Space


Takeshi Murata recently created this magical melting sphere called the “Melter 3-D”, which was on display in a darkened room at the Ratio 3 gallery as part of the Frieze Art Fair. If you’re unfamiliar… the Frieze Art Fair is one of the biggest contemporary art fairs in the world and takes place in Randall’s Island, Manhattan every year.

But back to this piece of art! How does it work? The “Melter 3-D” is a a zoetrope, a pre-cinematic device that creates an illusion of motion from the rapid succession of static pictures. This 3D version implements a stroboscope, which essentially means that flashing lights are used in to illuminate the sculpture at the appropriate times to create an illusion of movement.


This brings us to one problem with the practicality of this piece of art, discussed by one viewer after seeing the otherworldly sculpture first-hand:

“I saw it at the Frieze, and it was one of my favorite pieces on exhibition. The downside was that the effect requires multiple strobe lights to work. Trust me when I say that you would not want to be the person next to it for more than a few minutes. After about 30 seconds, most people (myself included) seemed to begin experiencing headaches.”

Nonetheless, the illusion is a sight to behold, and I’d happily experience the headache to see this masterpiece in action. Apparently, Murata spent months configuring the design on a computer and then worked with high-quality manufacturing engineers (who had previously worked on Hollywood CGI projects) to create the final product, an alien orb sent here to entertain Earth. What an incredible creation!


Speed Painting Illusion

February 27th, 2013 | Brain

Speed Painting is a little-known niche of the art world.  However, this performance by D. Westry on the Anderson Cooper Show is fantastic!  He has 1 minute and 30 seconds to impress the judges, and it looks to be off to a pretty disappointing start, but as with most activities, it’s all about the finish.

It’s interesting how our brain uses gravitational, up-down reference frames to process images.  Here’s a few optical illusions of upside-down art:

El Cosaco y El Burro

“This reversible optical illusion image on an old matchbox also contains a sly joke. The Spanish word “El Cosaco” means a mounted policeman, but it also refers to an elite Russia cavalry corps, who were thought to be heavy drinkers, so “El Cosaco” means someone who drinks heavily.

When it’s reversed, of course “El Burro” means burro or mule in English, but it’s also someone who’s an ignorant or pompous ass.

So might this be a little satirical dig at stupid drunken Russians or pompous policeman? Ponder that while you take out a match to light up your smoke.”


You can find a lot more of the matchbook art here.

Garibaldi and Stalin

This image was part of the Italian Anti-Communist propaganda. When the face of the politician Garibaldi is turned upside-down, you see that he was devoted to Stalin.

It would be cool to see a speed painting that works just as well right-side-up as upside-down.


Anamorphic Illusions

January 4th, 2013 | Brain

Anamorphic Illusions

Anamorphic Illusions are distorted projections or perspectives requiring the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute the image.  In other words, you must be looking at the right angle for the optical illusion to work.

You may have seen these on streets around the world like this one or this one, but I’ve personally never seen an illusion quite as real as the video above.  The color, shadow, and texture are all spot on. I had to pause and rewind three times to soak it in.

Here are some illustrations that demonstrate how the illusion is created:

anamorphic illusions diagram

Anamorphic Illusions Example

As you saw in the video, it’s necessary to stand at the right angle or you will lose the 3D effect.

I would really like to see one of these in person some day…


Illusion Sketches by Nagai Hideyuki

June 27th, 2012 | Brain

I always enjoy a good display of illusion!  Japanese artist Nagai Hideyuki has come up with some truly impressive sketches in this series.  The style of his work reminds me of 1930s cartoons, especially the last drawing with the large print “BoMB” and teary-eyed figure.  He has a a larger collection of work over at his gallery along with some youtube videos to check out as well.


[via i09]

The Tilt Illusion

April 29th, 2012 | Brain

Optical Illusion

Just a simple tilt illusion using angled lines… From the creator, greeenpro2009:

How this “works”: The sets of opposite diagonal lines in this drawing cause us to perceive the top rectangle as leaning toward the right when it really is not. Removing the lines proves that the rectangles are parallel. What also aids in the illusion is the triangle drawn on the right end of the top rectangle (we subconsciously perceive it as weighing down the right side…but only when the diagonal lines are there).

It’s fascinating the tricks that can be played on our brains.


[via i09]

Optical Illusion Video

October 21st, 2011 | Brain


Take the relaxing trip through the most famous optical illusions out there.

I have always been a fan of the Escher Waterfall shown above.  Some guy actually created a 3D working model of it a few years back, and it turned out to be pretty amazing.  Can you guess how he did it?