Friday, March 11, 2011

Optical Illusions

Optical illusions are the shit. I wish I knew more about the cognitive mechanics behind their perceptions. They’re almost drug-like in their ability to entrance and perplex.

When I was a kid I had this gigantic book of optical illusions. There were paradoxical drawings of impossible structures, strange patterns that seemed to pop out or resonate or spin if you stared at them long enough, and quiz-like ones that tried to make two distinct colors or lines seem different when in fact they were the same. It wouldn’t matter how logically I thought about them, or how long I tried to stare at them and use my eyes to ‘force’ them into a strict visual logic, they would still always captivate me. I think I still have that book, though the vast number of optical illusions on the internet has made it somewhat obsolete.

Today I still find myself fascinated by them, in one way or another. I’ve long since discovered artistic works, like those of MC Escher, which capitalize on paradoxical designs but also imbue their work with an aesthetic and artistic integrity that only enhances their awe. Mathematicians and computer experts have developed some sort of algorithm that can generate those spacey eye-fucking patterns and colors. And movies and models try to capitalize now more than ever on angles and lights to trick our minds into seeing things differently than they actually are.

It gets me thinking how many perception-warping tricks pass us by without our notice. How many ideas we have or images we see that are simply untrue… optical illusions are fun when you’re aware of them, and entertaining yourself by consciously acknowledging their characteristics. But they can be developed and harnessed to warp our cognition and help lean our minds in whatever direction their creators intend.

Still awesome.


  1. Optical illusions are awesome. Enough said!

  2. They are marvelous and fun. Reality is though, they are really just our brain failing haha

  3. My aunt used to have HUGE optical illusions framed all over her house; I loved them as a kid. I'd stare at them for hours rather then watching TV. Heh heh.