optical illusion

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Art

A 3D Mural by Artist Leon Keer Wraps a French Housing Complex Like a Gift

July 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Safe House” (2020). All images © Leon Keer, shared with permission

Dutch artist Leon Keer is known for his large-scale anamorphic and Trompe-l’œil projects, transforming the sides of buildings and sidewalks into illusory public art. His latest mural, titled “Safe House,” turns the side of a housing complex in Morlaix, France, into a massive, wrapped gift. Despite its flat surface, the gold paper appears to crinkle and bulge under the bright, imperfectly cut tape. “It is not obvious for everybody to have a roof over their head. Your home is precious and gives you the comfort and protection, a gift for the necessary needs in life. In honor of the great Christo and Jeanne-Claude,” the artist writes in a statement.

“Safe House” was created as part of the MX29 Graffiti Tour, a festival organized by Les Ateliers du Graff. To follow Keer’s deceptive works, head to Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

 

 



Animation

A Transfixing Animation Utilizes the Optical Illusions of Pareidolia to Parallel Two Narratives About Birth

June 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

Created by London-based animator and artist Vier Nev, “A Mind Sang” plunges into an entrancing journey of life’s stages. The short film is centered on themes of transformation as it hypnotically shifts perspectives scene-by-scene. “It began with twenty drawings I had created about different cultural representations of birth and identity. I find that in my drawings I often come back to the same characters: queer couples, mothers, and, for some inexplicable reason, cats,” Nev said in a Vimeo interview.

Relying on pareidolia—the tendency to see objects or patterns where they physically don’t exist—each frame simultaneously depicts two different narratives. “I wondered if I could create a film that merged the stories of these characters into the same shapes and shadows,” Nev said. The characters seamlessly change from fully realized figures into amorphous shapes, animals, and single body parts throughout the illusory project.

Although Nev originally planned for the entire film to be black and white, he instead infused bits of crimson and shades of violet. “The two red moments are particularly special to me as they signal moments where blood (sangue) fills the frame,” he said. “First as fire and then as water, blood represents death or birth.”

“A Mind Sang” recently won a Staff Pick Award at the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. Check out stills of the transformative project on Nev’s Instagram, and follow his upcoming animations on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Art

Illusory Street Typography Pops Off the Wall in Bold Murals by Ben Johnston

April 20, 2020

Vanessa Ruiz

All images © Ben Johnston

Toronto-based designer Ben Johnston plays with color, shadow, and perspective to create typography that appears three-dimensional in his site-specific murals. He’s a self-taught designer, spending time in the agency world of South Africa before moving back to his home country of Canada to pursue a freelance career focusing on branding and typography.

Johnston happened upon mural painting when a friend asked him to create a piece for the entranceway of a new office building. That opportunity completely shifted the course of his career, and he now spends 80% of his time creating murals for clients, charity, and fun.

A disciplined designer, Johnston told Scotty Russell of the Perspective Podcast that he spends no more than four days painting a mural, preferring to work longer days to get it done rather than stretch it out over a week. He balances outdoor mural painting with client work in his studio and always tries to get in a bike ride before the day begins to clear his mind. The designer pushes what’s possible with letter art by finding inspiration outside of the digital realm—by flipping through classic design books on Bauhaus and taking photos of peeling vinyl lettering. He even has entire mood boards dedicated to shadow references.

Follow Johnston on Instagram to keep up with his latest illusory murals, and get a glimpse into his painting process on Vimeo.

 

 



Design Illustration

Connect the Dots to Reveal Animated Figures and Illusions in New Flipbook Set

February 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

Mimicking Connect the Dots puzzles, a new pair of flipbooks released by Flipboku reveals jumping characters and spinning geometric shapes. Created by the animation studio Zumbakamera, Dots & Lines is made of up two books by the same name—Dots features animations, while Lines unveils optical illusions—that utilize the technique of the classic game to create six different sequences that span the entirety of the book, depending on thumb placement. Flipping the book and positioning a thumb at the top, middle, or bottom of the books’ edges determines which animation the viewers see.

“With Dots & Lines, we’ve taken a 150-year-old medium and turned it up a notch, combining the popular dot-to-dot puzzle game with the original flipbook format,” said Flipboku co-founder Julie Reier. “It’s given life by gradually transforming the numbers into mind-boggling optical illusions and animated cartoon characters, ranging from astonishing to laugh-out-loud funny.” Get the latest on the live Kickstarter project on Instagram and YouTube.

 

 



Art Design History

Historic Lithograph Reveals Anamorphic Views of Razed Bank of Philadelphia

February 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

In 1832, artist John Jesse Barker added depth to a drawing by Philadelphia-based William G. Mason to create an optical illusion titled “Horizontorium.” Part of a tradition of anamorphic works, this depiction of the Bank of Philadelphia is one of the two surviving works looking at the historic financial building designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. At the time, it was the unofficial bank of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that sat at the southwest corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. The structure was razed in 1836.

Horizontoriums became popular throughout England and France in the 18th century, although this piece is the only one known to be made in America. Viewers would set the lithograph on a flat surface and perpendicularly position their face at the center of the work (note the semicircle on this lithograph suggesting a spot for a chin) to peer over the image. The sharp angle would produce a distorted perspective that appears to project the building and its passersby upward. Sometimes, viewers even would peek through a small hole carved out of paper or cardboard to block out their peripheral vision and give the work a more distinct look. (via Graphic Arts Collection, The Morning News)

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

“Horizontorium” (1832), hand-colored lithograph, 22.5 x 16.5 inches

 

 



Design

Shape-Shifting Figure by Frank Force Wins Best Illusion of 2019

December 16, 2019

Grace Ebert

Is it rotating vertically or horizontally? Clockwise or counterclockwise? An optical illusion created by game developer and artist Frank Force features a moving shape that seemingly shifts each way. It’s no surprise that the work won the 2019 contest for the Best Illusion of the Year. Keep up with Force’s generative art on Twitter. (via Kottke)

 

 

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