Steven Millhauser is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author known for his erudite, witty and surreal writing style that blends the magical and the real. Enjoy the full text of Eisenheim The Illusionist (pdf, 20 pages), the story that inspired the 2006 film The Illusionist. [more inside]
Most people have probably never seen the magic of Steve Cohen, who for 14 years has held court in a private suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, to sold-out crowds of "celebrities, royalty, government officials, and other VIPs." But bits of his "Chamber Magic" show are available online to marvel at. [more inside]
Time for a new OK Go video!
Through the power of clever editing, forced perspective and some other subtle tricks, Zack King has a "magic" Vine compilation that is excellently entertaining. [slyt]
In the spirit of "Cog," here's Honda's "Illusions." Making of here. Via Hendrick Ball's "Grand Illusions."
Genii, the conjurer's magazine is the longest-running independent magazine devoted to magic and magicians in the history of the art. Their website has a bit of information for the public including some lively forums, but the real treasure trove is MagicPedia. There, you can find over three thousand biographies, information on almost 1,700 books of and about magic, nearly 200 magic organizations, and so much more. The current featured article is on the American Civil War, and the role numerous magicians played at that time.
NY 41×41 is a very cool Infinite Zoom Illusion Video of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue created by Paul Trillo. [via] [more inside]
Baz has graciously agreed to let us release this 'before and afters' reel to show our peer group the VFX work completed on his film The Great Gatsby
Motion-Induced Blindness plus 105 other Visual Phenomena & Optical Illusions.
In 1889, the Urania Astronomical Society of Berlin put together an illusion of a trip to the moon and a solar eclipse, created with painted scenery, transparent screens, and a variety models, created live before an audience. Three years later, the same show was presented at Andrew Carnegie's Music Hall, as covered in Scientific American, a decade before Le Voyage dans la Lune, the film by Georges Méliès (previously). The stage show was documented in 1897, in Magic; stage illusions and scientific diversions, including trick photography (Archive.org, direct link to Trip to the Moon; also available on Google Books). [via io9, who have a summary of the special effects]
Apollo Robbins is a spectacular pickpocket whose work extends to neuroscience, the military and magic.
Anamorphic illusions of items on a desk is the latest of many interesting original visual illusions, tricks, and fun science experiments by Brusspup on Youtube (previously). For handy viewing: Anamorphic playlist; Illusions playlist; Science experiments playlist, plus more, including a playlist of how-to videos for various tricks and activities . [more inside]
Please visit Stockholm. We need more iPads. (SLYTHDTDT*) *Single Link YouTube "How do they DO that?!" post.
Have you ever wondered why you don't see motion blur when your eyes flick to a new position? Why, if you sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself, you never see your eyes move? That is saccadic masking, one of the lies your brain tells to avoid confusing you. Have you noticed that the first tick after glancing at a clock with a second hand can take more than one second? No, it's not just you! That's a related phenomenon called chronostasis, or more commonly the stopped clock illusion.
Making water appear to levitate usually requires a strobe light to trick the eye. If you don't have a fancy system to control water flow, you can run water through a tube taped to a speaker playing very low frequency sound, and again use a strobe light to make the water appear to defy gravity. Or you can ditch the strobe, and sync the sound waves to the frame rate of a video camera to make water drops appear to hover.
“Henrik's work speaks to the idea that there is no such thing as a soul or a self that's independent of the brain.”
Out-of-body experience: Master of illusion: Out-of-body experiences are just part of Ehrsson's repertoire. He has convinced people that they have swapped bodies with another person, gained a third arm, shrunk to the size of a doll or grown to giant proportions. [ . . . ] But Ehrsson's unorthodox apparatus amount to more than cheap trickery. They are part of his quest to understand how people come to experience a sense of self, located within their own bodies. The feeling of body ownership is so ingrained that few people ever think about it — and those scientists and philosophers who do have assumed that it was unassailable. [ . . . ] Ehrsson's work also intrigues neuroscientists and philosophers because it turns a slippery, metaphysical construct — the self — into something that scientists can dissect.
"A wonderful brain interprets something differently from what it actually is, but it doesn't mean it's made a mistake. It took the information it had and did it's best job." Those are but two tricks from Jerry Andrus (1918-2007), self-taught magician and illusionist, and one of great renown amongst other magicians. But he was more than a slight-of-hand man: he was also a poet, philosopher, inventor, humanist, agnostic, and skeptic. There are an impressive number of videos of him online, these are but a few to get you started down the rabbit hole: Jerry Andrus is visual poetry (Google video / YT, 28 minutes) :: Jerry Andrus at the Magic Castle (G.vid, 49 min), Jerry Andrus at 83 his Optical Illusions (G.vid, 41 min) :: Jerry Andrus and Ray Hyman on Uri Geller (YT, 26 min) :: James Randi on Jerry Andrus (YT, 5 min) :: James Randi - who was Jerry Andrus? :: James Randi describes Jerry Andrus. The last two clips are from Rex Young, a young illusionist who has recreated many of Andrus' illusions on his YouTube channel, and made some of his own.
Illusion or blockhead act? You be the judge. Caution: this performance is not for the squeamish. Tony Star presents iSight. (SLYT)
Swimming Pool is a piece by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich that gives the illusion of people walking and breathing underwater in an ordinary swimming pool. Video from the MoMA PS1 installation. [more inside]
World's Oldest Optical Illusion Found? A 15,000 year old piece of an atlatl (spear chucker) shows definite signs of being a Gestalt shift optical illusion (as demonstrated here, here, and in the classic duck/rabbit picture). Although not as well defined as modern optical illusions (like the really tripped out Neave Strobe), it likely demonstrates a stage of cognitive awareness in human psychological development.
an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
Ephemera Magica: A Daily Offering of Vintage Magic: "I found some great and mysterious things in some old boxes my Mom passed on to me from my Father and Grandfather. I am scanning and posting a page, trick, letter, or booklet from a huge collection of vintage magic articles every day." Click on each of the pictures for larger versions, or check out the Ephemera Magica Flickr Feed. [via mefi projects]
Crazy Cubes optical illusion. (SLYT)
The results are in, and mathematician Kokichi Sugihara won the 2010 Best Illusion of the Year award with a video of balls rolling uphill. The competition, hosted by the Neural Correlate Society, is the "Oscars of perception," says society president Susana Martinez-Conde. The trophies are themselves visual illusions — wooden sculptures that look vastly different depending on the observer's point of view. The ten finalists are all interesting. Previously.
The average human eye has three types of cone cells, each of which is sensitive to a different wavelength range of visible light. The difference in the relative signal from the three cones allows us to distinguish colors. Unfortunately, since these sensitivity ranges overlap, there are some combinations of signals from the cones that can't be created by light emitted from a real object. These are the so-called "imaginary colors". However, by selectively overstimulating one or more types of cone, we can still perceive these colors; this is the principle behind the Eclipse of Titan, an optical illusion which produces both a green and a cyan that don't otherwise appear in nature. (Similar effects can be seen in the Eclipses of Mars, Neptune, and Triton.) [more inside]
"The most important of the all-too-human functions of consultants is to sanctify and communicate opinion. Like ministers of information, consultants condense the message, smooth out the dissonances, unify the rhetoric, and then repeat and amplify it ad nauseam through the client's rank and file. The chief message to be communicated is that you will be expected to work much harder than you ever have before and your chances of losing your job are infinitely greater than you ever imagined."If you've ever known a management consultant, this explains why they always seem to have that "outrageously unjustified level of self-confidence." A fascinating insider's look into the anthropology of business consulting -- Masters of Illusion: The Great Management Consultancy Swindle
The American Hologram We suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a “theater state.”
Andreas Aronsson makes interesting impossible figures, documents the process, and philosophizes. Via lines and colors and Neatorama, where Aronsson shows up to call himself "an Oscar Reutersvärd ripoff." Reutersvärd is often credited as the founder of the impossible figure. [more inside]
If I Were You: Perceptual Illusion of Body Swapping. Expanding on previous experiments, researchers discover how to induce a "body-swap" illusion, whereby subjects perceive the body of another as if it were their own.
Art as Visual Research: Art and neuroscience combine in creating fascinating examples of illusory motion.
Of Jock Straps and Conspiracy Theories. A new study looks at how lacking control increases the tendency for magical thinking and illusory pattern perception. [Via]
The Mighty Optical Illusions website contains a ton of things to mess with your visual cortex, from 3D chalk drawings to impossible objects; spot-the-object games, tests, and the just plain spooky, among many other categories. Or you can just keep hitting the Random Illusion button until you lose yourself.
Surreal photographic Foodscapes by photographer Carl Warner. Strawberry hot air balloons, towers of cheese, potato boulders, green pea boats on seas of salmon, spice roads, and sugar beaches populate these intricate and luscious scenes. More dishy foodscapes (the plate rainbow = ♥!) and other wonderful visual tricks at his Flash site in the "Fotographics" section (look for the fabulous forest of boots and the white cotton winter wonderland!). [more inside]
Holophonic sound is an audio recording technique which operates on a principle similar to Holography. The result has been reported to be realistic and life-like three dimensional sounding audio recordings. [more inside]
See For Yourself - Purves Lab's optical illusions web page with empirical explanations of familiar and unfamiliar illusions.
Is the dancer spinning clockwise or counterclockwise? An optical illusion. [more inside]
Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
Garbage + illumination = art? Various artists carefully pile rubbish on a gallery floor, or meticulously assemble a collection of ordinary items, plug in a light source, and create incredibly detailed and surprising shadows on the wall. Meanwhile, blog commenters cry "Fake!" and "Photoshop!". I guess they didn't see any of the Quicktime movies of Shigeo Fukuda linked here.
Your daily dose of perception-bending. Stare at the center of this video (wmv or flash) for a minute or two then look away from the screen at your surroundings. You'll experience an interesting and somewhat disconcerting effect. Not appropriate for anyone prone to headaches or seizures.
Carnegie Mellon researchers have created a program that can automatically generate a 3-D model from a single photograph, using machine learning. Take a look at this high-res comparison of original and generated images, also demonstration animations and downloadable videos (with executables). [via /. see also: a little on human 3d perception at everything2, groovy dragon illusion]
An audio illusion called the tritone paradox is based on Shepard Tones, a finite self-similar sequence of tones that seem to contiually rise or fall in pitch. Diana Deutch has found that how you percieve these illusions can be strikingly different from person to person and that most people have some form of pefect pitch.
The Death of Perspective. Among the greatest achievements of the renaissance artists was the perfection of the art of perspective: Giving the appearance of depth to a flat surface. Felice Varini uses perspective to do the opposite.
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