Indulging in “deceiving the eyes”, how many optical illusions can you see through these world competitions?

Let’s take a look at this awkward painting first. Can you see what’s in it?

▲ The second runner-up work of the 2017 Best Optical Illusion Competition, the secret lies in the interlaced black and white dots

Use a ruler or card as a reference object to compare each horizontal line, you will find that each line is a parallel horizontal horizontal line, but after removing the reference object, even if the brain determines that they are straight horizontal lines, the eyes can't help but look at it. Until they become crooked strangely.

Therefore, it is not the original intention of the visual illusion diagram to make the mystery, but it is their original intention to confuse the eyes. There is such a group of optical illusion enthusiasts in the world. Every year, an optical illusion contest is held to select the most interesting "confusion behavior" of the year.

"Broken Behavior" Award

"Best Illusion of the Year Contest" is an optical illusion creation competition held annually by the American Neurological Association. The 2020 contest ended on December 10th. Optical illusions from all over the world Fans voted for the most unique optical illusion works in 2020.

The 2020 champion work is "3D Schroder Stairs". The Schroder Staircase was originally a classic optical illusion work born in 1858. It uses the principle of perspective, so that the direction of the stairs will not change whether the viewer looks at it from the front or rotates 180 degrees.

Based on this principle of perspective reversal, the author used origami to express the original 2D stairs in a 3D form. From the effect, the illusion is not inferior to the classic works.

How did this kind of stairs that violate physics be folded? After the author reveals the answer, he will find that it actually just looks like a staircase.

The runner-up work "Is this Real?" is also very interesting. "Mirror illusion" is one of the very popular themes in visual illusion, and the author can make a very good "mirror illusion" effect with cans, cardboard and a photo frame. .

Move the mirror, pick up the can, and slam it against the mirror, and you will find that there is no mirror in it.

Seeing is not necessarily true. The symmetry of mirroring is sometimes not necessarily derived from the mirror, but may also be due to clever placement.

When you see these twisted letters, do you feel it is rigid or flexible? This is the third runner-up work in 2020, titled "Impossible Grid Typesetting". The weird twist turns the bottom of the character into the top, and the front is reversed to the back. It looks carefully that each part of the letter seems to rotate in different directions.

But after disassembling, you will find that these twisted characters like Mobius rings are actually made up of several rotating rigid cubes.

If you finish reading the top three, there are still many interesting works.

For example, in "The Illusion of the Sun", a rotating polygon composed of points and lines is used to create a very interesting phenomenon. When we stare at the center circle, we will feel that the intersection of the polygons will emit light like the sun.

This is because when the polygons intersect, our brain will unconsciously connect the intersection points, resulting in a particularly bright "light" illusion. When the polygons rotate uniformly, the "light" illusion will disappear.

The team from Japan discovered a low-cost X-ray. William Roentgen discovered that X-rays can see through the skin in 1895. Nowadays, "X-ray" lights are not mysterious. You can also see your own "bones" by shining your fingers with the flash of your mobile phone.

Wait, why is this flash different from mine? In fact, the secret of "X-rays" is not in the lamp. The bones that illuminate are just the reflection of a few ballpoint pens on the glass.

The biggest difference between visual illusion and magic is that at the moment when the mystery of the visual illusion is revealed, people will feel the satisfaction of "as it is", and magic always gives people a sense of "but that".

Based on the previously introduced works, it is not difficult to see that, rather than magnificent and complex visual illusions, this competition favors works that see the big from the small. Combining concise and unremarkable elements to create ingenious effects is also the greatest charm of visual illusions.

The 2019 champion work "Double Axis Illusion" will be the best interpretation of this "simple but not simple" spirit. It seems that this is just a rotating ring made of intertwined lines, but when asked in which direction it is rotating, Things become interesting.

Should it rotate counterclockwise or clockwise?

Or is it actually rotating along the Y axis?

In fact, when the attention is focused on different intersections, the first intuition of the brain will change.

This is because our brains always tend to understand visual information more simply. When we see a group of two-dimensional lines doing complex movements, we will unconsciously interpret it as a simple rotating three-dimensional figure.

When the reference point changes, the imagined three-dimensional graphics will also change accordingly, resulting in a wonderful illusion experience, and this sense of sudden realization is also the addictive aspect of visual illusions.

Hold the competition, they are serious

This competition has been held since 2005, and officially became an annual online event in 2015. No matter where you are in the world, you can submit works through the Internet to participate in the competition.

Participants can make their own creativity into a video of about one minute, and after submitting it on the website, an international panel of judges will score it. The benchmark for scoring is:

  • Significance for understanding the human mind and brain
  • Concise description
  • Pure beauty
  • Counterintuitive qualities
  • Shock

After the judges have passed the ranking, the top 10 contestants will be selected, and fans from all over the world will vote for their favorite works on the website. The top three works will receive thousands of dollars in cash rewards.

Although the amount is not large, the symbolic meaning of the bonus is far greater than the actual meaning for such a small circle.

If you look closely at the logo of the competition, you will find that it is also full of elements of visual illusion-or the Logo itself is a work of visual illusion.

The logo of the contest is composed of three elements: a trophy, ripples, and changing colors. It is very simple but constitutes two visual illusions:

At first glance, the colors on the left and right sides of the trophy seem to be different. I always feel that the color on one side is a bit darker. In fact, this is affected by the visual chromatic aberration separated by the color ripples. A careful comparison will reveal that the colors of the trophy are actually uniform.

The base of the trophy is a classic visual illusion. The edges look like two faces facing each other. The addition of ripple stripes is like adding hair to this face, which is very clever.

▲ "Light of Life", the emblem of the World Expo in Japan

The organized event arrangement, with a more interesting logo than the emblem of the World Expo in Japan, makes it hard to imagine that this is actually a competition held by a very small group of people.

If you pay attention to the background information of the winners and judges, you will find that this competition is not as simple as it seems.

▲ The anti-gravity slide is one of Sugihara's classic works. The center point is actually the lowest point of the slide

In fact, most of the contestants have academic or artistic backgrounds. For example, Sugihara, a regular podium visitor who has won prizes in five years of competitions, is a mathematician in Japan and is currently a professor at Meiji University.

The jury panel, the neurological association, is also composed of scientists, doctors, neurologists and artists, and its professionalism is evident.

▲ Through the study of optical illusion, we can avoid falling into the illusion trap in creation

Behind the interesting event, the organizers stated that their purpose is to promote scientific research on the neurological correlation of perception and cognition, seeking to communicate these findings to the public, and help improve medical progress and overall awareness.

In fact, there are also designs or products that utilize visual illusions widely in our lives.


When shooting science fiction movies, optical illusions are always the most sci-fi technique.

▲ The whole scene rotates on a circular axis

In sci-fi works such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Interstellar Crossing", the protagonist walks in space and in another world by rotating the camera and the scene together. The audience instinctively uses the background as a fixed reference to see A scene of the character moving against gravity.

The most outstanding science fiction film in the past decade, "Inception" also used a large number of visual illusion elements, allowing the audience to better immerse themselves in this large-scale dream.

We all know that the movie picture is actually a frame-by-frame stop-motion picture. The reason it moves is because the projector is playing at a speed of 24 frames per second. Because of the fast speed, you can use the visual stay to deceive the eyes to make the picture "moving".

When shooting bullet time in "The Matrix", this visual illusion was even more fully utilized: 120 high-speed cameras were prepared at the shooting site surrounded by a circle, and each camera took a shot every 1/120 second.

In post-production, each camera only retains one or two frames of pictures, which will form a bullet-time surround effect after being connected.

▲ Picture from:

It is not uncommon to use visual illusion designs in products in life. For example, the transformation of the two-dimensional sneakers that were all the rage in the past two years. Use a simple thick line pen to simply outline a few cartoon-specific shadow lines on a pair of white sneakers to create Create a sense of visual illusion that breaks the dimensional wall.

In OPPO's newly launched Reno 5 Pro+ limited edition, electrochromic glass is also used on the back cover to achieve this kind of comic style that blurs the illusion and reality.

In 2014's "Monument Valley", the main visual illusion adventure, players saw the production of many impossible graphics through interaction, as if they were personally in the wonderful world of Escher's paintings and had a new view of space.

"Monument Valley" was named the best game of the year by IGN, and praised it for creating a series of creative, thoughtful and wonderfully well-designed levels, giving players critical thinking. Looking back after 6 years, it still deserves this reputation.

▲ Escher's classic painting "Relativity"

The reason why these movies, designs and games can give people a sense of visual impact is precisely because they use visual illusions to break people's understanding of conventional things and give them unusual new forms.

And when we are immersed in this humorous and interesting visual game, these metaphorical images are like teasing cats with a cat stick, teasing our brains.

Higher and higher

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