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Visual Illusions
May 14, 2009 2:32 PM   Subscribe

The winners of the 2009 Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest. And past years. (ante)
posted by dios (27 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Make sure to catch the trophies by artist Guido Moretti.
posted by dios at 2:34 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


The curveball one is pretty amazing. The face / gender one is interesting. The dove is just kind of "Well, duh." Anyway, thanks for this.
posted by dersins at 2:42 PM on May 14, 2009


Curveball deserves a win.
posted by graventy at 2:50 PM on May 14, 2009


I found the face/gender one most interesting, as the other two rely on more common illusion techniques. Why does contrast affect perception of gender?
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:50 PM on May 14, 2009


Why does contrast affect perception of gender?

My first guess is that part of it is that we're conditioned to seeing photographs of female faces wearing makeup. Lipstick (usually) darkens the lips relative to the rest of the face, and eyeliner and eyeshadow (usually) darken the eyes relative to the rest of the face, creating an "illusion" of heightened contrast, so when we see a photograph with heightened contrast, we subconciously associate that with a feminine look.

I have no idea whether this is actually the case, but it's was the immediate (and perhaps mistaken) conclusion that I jumped to.
posted by dersins at 2:56 PM on May 14, 2009


Yeah the illusion of sex one was fascinating.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:59 PM on May 14, 2009


So a curve ball doesn't actually curve much, but rather tricks the batter into over-compensating?
posted by jpdoane at 3:02 PM on May 14, 2009


Wow, these are SO COOL! Thanks!!!
posted by Cygnet at 3:25 PM on May 14, 2009


Dersins, that's what I thought too. Before I read the paragraph, though, I actually perceived the higher-contrast image as male, for what it's worth (which is probably about as much as the ink it cost to print this).
posted by nosila at 4:00 PM on May 14, 2009


These are coooool!

So a curve ball doesn't actually curve much, but rather tricks the batter into over-compensating?

A curveball really does curve. See The Physics of Baseball for quite a good treatment of this.

I think that reference on the illusion page was just meant to highlight how the ball on the page looks like it is curving when you move your eyes... whereas when you look in a fixed location, it appears to move in a straight line (directly down or at an angle depending on where you look).
posted by FishBike at 4:03 PM on May 14, 2009


Y'all missed out. I was in the audience for this (VSS 2009 in Naples, FL last week), and not only were all the illusions awesome (I voted for the Color Dove illusion myself), but there was also great music, confetti, and the inestimable Peter Thompson (seen here in my crappy cameraphone footage right after the curveball illusion).

Were any other mefites there? Memail me, we'll meet up at VSS 2010!
posted by dmd at 4:44 PM on May 14, 2009


dove is just kind of "Well, duh."

It is most definitely not "well, duh". Nobody has ever reported this phenomenon before, ever. This is not an afterimage as one normally thinks of it (e.g., one mediated by the retina or LGN). In this illusion, you're seeing color where there was no color to begin with - and not a complementary color, either.
posted by dmd at 4:47 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, James Randi did a show while they were counting the votes.

Ok, done gloating now.
posted by dmd at 4:52 PM on May 14, 2009


Not quite as exciting as last year's "Holy Crap! Afterimages aren't supposed to work that way!" winner, but still pretty good. The dove illusion is more interesting than the curveball illusion, I think, but it's just a riff on last year's winner (the filling in of afterimage effects), so the curveball illusion deserved it.

I looked up the shortlist a little while back, and when I saw that one was called "the illusion of sex", I had to Google the researchers and look for the illusion. Given the title, I was a little disappointed.
posted by painquale at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2009


dmd: last year's winner exhibited the same general effect, but without continuous motion.
posted by painquale at 5:12 PM on May 14, 2009


Neat stuff. That face illusion reminds me of this one.
posted by orme at 6:03 PM on May 14, 2009


That dice illusion they use for the page background is fabulous.
posted by smackfu at 7:07 PM on May 14, 2009


The curveball reversal thing is the one that does it for me. Most illusions aren't really persistent... you can force your brain to see what's really happening, but I couldn't at all with this one.
posted by cmoj at 7:56 PM on May 14, 2009


The dove one is not working for me; the bird looks empty/white no matter what, though maybe sometimes a slightly off-white white after the color flash. Monitor fail, eyes fail? Not colorblind.

Curveball and gender ones were nice, though.
posted by emjaybee at 8:08 PM on May 14, 2009


My first guess is that part of it is that we're conditioned to seeing photographs of female faces wearing makeup.

Make-up further extenuates the biological sex difference. Women have lighter skin relative to men (of the same race), because testosterone darkens skin. Lighter skins also makes lips and eyes standout more.
posted by dgaicun at 8:53 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dove one doesn't work on me either.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:14 PM on May 14, 2009


I can't see the curveball one, it just looks like it's falling downwards at no angle. I feel illusion-dumb.
posted by Shecky at 10:47 PM on May 14, 2009


Accentuates the sex difference. Firefox spellcheck mishap o' the day.

See here and here. (This face illusion is at least five or six years old. I was surprised to see it as a 2009 thing.)

A sex difference in skin color begins at puberty when female skin lightens due to thickening subcutaneous fat, which converts androgens to estrogens, creating a layer of lighter tissue near the skin surface.

The sex difference disappears in Northern Europe and Equatorial Africa (where skin is maximally light and maximally dark, respectively).
posted by dgaicun at 12:30 AM on May 15, 2009


I agree, with emjaybee, the dove one doesn't work for me. The background resonates some after color, as expected but the dove always remains white. Am I broken?
posted by like_neon at 1:40 AM on May 15, 2009


The illusion of sex...
All too familiar.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:27 AM on May 15, 2009


hey dmd - i was there also - i absolutely loved the tube illusion presentation. I bumped into Lothar Spillmann in publix the next day, and told him that for the rest of my life, I shall often awake in the middle of the night with his voice etched into my head saying:

"This... is the tube illusion"
posted by spacediver at 11:40 AM on May 15, 2009


The dove doesn't work for me. I must have a brain tumor or something.

shit
posted by marxchivist at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2009


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