Is this my eyes? Oh! Yes it is.
You may have never heard of it, but there is actually a competition for visual illusions called the Best Illusion of The Year Contest, organized by research institutions and organizations related to neuroscience. However, after looking at some of their past competition cases, you will find that this scientific competition is not “scientific” at all.
The contestants are some very serious and respectable academic figures (such as perception scientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and artists, etc.), but after seeing their entries, you can’t help but admire them for being so creative and playful!
The champion of 2023 is Matt Pritchard, also known as the “science magician”. Let’s take a look at how his “magic” tricks deceive our eyes.
At first glance, you might think it’s a thick and sturdy wall. “Oops! Big leak!” When the Lego toy car in the video passes through the wall, the scene is like the “Platform Nine and Three-Quarters” in Harry Potter, making people exclaim “Wow!”
It seems that there can also be an express train to Hogwarts in the real world. Get ready for your flying broomstick and don’t let those Muggles find out!
Matt is a true multi-talented person in life. Do you think he is just a magician? No, he is also an atomic physicist who collaborates with more than 100 schools for outreach every year, and works with organizations such as the Science Museum Group and the Big Bang Fair. Moreover, he is also an “internet celebrity blogger”, posting interesting magic videos he filmed on social media, unlocking more wonderful chemical reactions produced by the collision of science and magic.
In addition, Matt also won the championship of the 2021 Annual Illusion Contest, and the judging panel consisted of some neurologists and psychologists. Therefore, the competition is actually rooted in the field of science, not magic. As he said, magic is not used to fool people, on the contrary, some magical experiments often trigger many interesting scientific research.
The second place winning work is called “Tower of Cubes”. The tower on the left is built with 3D cubes, and a straight wooden stick goes through the hollow interior of the tower. The stick goes through the cube tower on the right in the same way, but something “strange” happens in the right tower.
After disassembling the cube on the right, it turns out to be twisted 3D printed cubes. It’s truly a perfect example of “imperfect art”.
The third place winning work is called “Cornelia” and was created by American sculptor Wendy van Boxtel. Interestingly, when you look at the sculpture from different angles, you will be surprised to find that the face of the sculpture also moves with you! (The twisted face is quite captivating.)
For those who have seen the hollow mask illusion, you may feel a sense of familiarity, as the principle behind it is similar. Wendy created this illusion through painting, but she also admitted that the process of creating this work was not easy. “I tried many materials, colors, and different depths of color to create the stunning illusion effect.”
Take a look at Wendy’s Instagram and you’ll find some other whimsical sculptures and paintings. In her mischievous world, oranges can be blue and children’s skin can be multicolored. These novel and bold ideas and creativity will make you want to immediately hop on a hot air balloon and explore the entire universe!
Simply put, optical illusions use geometric arrangements, light and color imaging rules, and other means to create physiological illusions in your senses and cognitive illusions in your mind, resulting in magical effects.
Whether it’s magic performances, art installations, or distorted three-dimensional spaces, the creators of these optical illusions hope to establish them on a scientific basis, stimulate people’s boundless imagination, break free from the shackles of “empiricism,” and use creativity to explore the A and B sides of life.