Monday, 20 January 2014

Optical illusions

The Penrose Triangle in East Perth, Western Australia
The Penrose triangle. This triangle gives the appearance of being solid when viewed from certain directions, but it is actually made from three straight beams joined at two corners only.

via
Escher's Waterfall - Defying gravity the water apear to be travelling upwards
Escher's Sky and Water 1 & 11
According to Escher - "In the horizontal center strip there are birds and fish equivalent to each other. We associate flying with sky, and so for each of the black birds the sky in which it is flying is formed by the four white fish which encircle it. Similarly swimming makes us think of water, and therefore the four black birds that surround a fish become the water in which it swims."
Three hares window at Paderborn Cathedral, Germany 
Three hares sharing three ears, yet each one of them has a pair of ears. This is my favourite illusion for its simplicity and effectiveness.
This circular image of the three hares symbol has been around since 600 AD and is widespread appearing in sacred sites from the Middle and Far East to the churches of southwest England. It seems to have a number of mystical associations with fertility and the lunar cycle. When used in Christian churches, it is a symbol of the Trinity.
Grid illusion - dark dots seem to appear and disappear at intersections
This horizontal grey bar is the same shade throughout. You can check this by covering either side of the bar with paper.
Move your head backwards and forwards whilst looking at the black dot - the two circles appear to move.

The three images below were created by Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka from Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan.
Do visit his page to see more amazing illusions. He also has a book published called "Trick Eyes Graphics NEO".
I had concerns about using these images because of copyright. However, at the end of his page it says that it is possible to reproduce three of his illusions as long as full credit is given. 

WARNING: If any of the moving illusions below make you feel dizzy or sick, then please leave the page immedately. 
'The Autumn Colour Swamp'
'Rotating Snakes'
'Rollers'

66 comments:

  1. These are so intriguing, Rosemary, and you have brought together a great collection. I love Escher the most; the waterfall and the bird/fish are wonderful. The Professor's work is brilliant, but I can't really pause and look at it: too dazzling for me, but impressive of course!

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    1. Just a bit of light hearted fun Patricia - yes, the last three are rather dazzling - that is why I decided to put a warning before them. A brief look is sufficient.

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  2. My eyes have gone all funny after the last three graphics!! There is a ceiling boss in Tavistock church of the 'Tinners Hares' as they are known down here in the West Country

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    1. Dear Lesley - yes, you are right. I am aware of there being many three hares bosses in Devon through a friend of ours, Chris Chapman, who has done a three hare project. You can access it here if you are interested.
      http://www.chrischapmanphotography.co.uk/hares/

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  3. Such an interesting post again. The Japanese professor's images are great, love their vivid colours, but don't stare too long at them. We are admirers of Escher and visited several exhibitions and have of course books in our library, but I too love the three hares window in Paderborn cathedral.

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    1. Thank you Janneke - for me the three hares symbol is really clever. It is interesting that the use of this image has been around for over 2½ thousand years, and yet, is hard to beat.

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  4. You have reminded me of a meeting I once had with the owner of a business who had a wallpaper very similar to the grid on the wall behind his desk. Of course, he sat with his back to it. His visitors didn't. I'm quite sure it was deliberate.

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    1. I can imagine how very disconcerting that would be.

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  5. How wonderful are all of these. The last 3, very clever.
    I bet you had fun finding these :)

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    1. The Escher and the hares I have known, it seems, forever, but the last three were very new to me and I found quite startling. The more you look the more confused the eye becomes.

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  6. Like you, I love the three hares chasing each other for their symmetry and mysterious- mystical symbolism.I think that a simiral motif existed in some Mycenaeam vessels or coins. Anyway, this illusion has always had a positive connotation and I have hares and rabbits on my persian carpets so that probably means that it has a different meaning in different cultures..Pretty interesting all this dear Rosemary!
    Have a nice week!
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - There must be a post in here somewhere - Hares and their Symbolism!!! Hares do have a certain mysticism surrounding them and they are such elusive creatures. What about the legends of hares gazing at the moon? In Greco-Roman myth, the hare represented romantic love. Pliny the Elder recommended the meat of a hare as a cure for sterility. I am sure you know that rabbits were sacred to Aphrodite. Basically hares and rabbits seem to indicate love which is all rather pleasing.

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  7. This post certainly woke the grey matter - thanks for such a thought provoking post.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth - it was all just a bit of light hearted fun.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, The three-rabbit image looks related to the triskelion symbols so common in art (e.g., the Isle of Man symbol), and to which are ascribed similar meanings.

    I'm not sure that I am seeing the grid illusion correctly--the dots seem actually in the picture, even under extreme magnification. The other illusions were fun to look at as long as I could take them, but now I want to lie down for a bit...
    Jim

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    1. Really sorry Jim - are you now suffering from dots before the eyes.
      The three hares do have a resemblance to the triskelion symbol - I had intended to do a post on that at some stage but have never got round to it. When we visited Sicily a couple of years ago we discovered that their national flag also carries a triskelion.
      PS I have changed the wording of the grid - I realise that I had not explained it properly following your message.

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  9. Dear Rosemary, How fun is this!. I had to remove myself from the Autumn Color Swamp...
    My Father carved the three hares for me. He carved it out of walnut more than forty years ago. It is my favorite belt buckle.

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    1. Dear Gina - how wonderful is that - love to see it, may be you would consider showing it on your blog sometime?
      The illusions seem to effect people in different ways. The Autumn Colour Swamp is amazing in the way that the square area moves around, but I can only look at it briefly.

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    2. Have posted a picture on my blog of today. Thanks for the idea. ox, Gina

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    3. Wonderful - I will just check it out♥

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  10. Hi Rosemary, optical illusions are a fascinating thing, aren't they? They just remind us that our perception in general is a little bit more unreliable than we usually assume. I feel that is a good thing to have in mind next time when we are getting into an argument about our point of view. My favorite optical illusion is also the one with the three hares, too. So harmonious and beautiful! Wishing you a nice rest of the day!
    Christina

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    1. I was watching an illusionist on the TV the other evening and it was impossible to understand how some of things he did were possible. I suspect that in the wrong hands this could be quite dangerous.

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  11. What a great post. I have always loved Escher and the hares are so clever in their simplicity, but the last three I can't look at for long at all.

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    1. Dear Marina - you live fairly near to many three hares symbols which are found in the SW region. I wonder why there is a preponderance of them in the area.

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  12. Oh my gosh these totally made my day. I am going to send these to some coworkers :)

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    1. Thanks for visiting - glad that this post made your day.

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  13. Such a neat post, Rosemary :) Yes, those circles really do look like they are moving!! Just tried it.
    This post was great fun - enjoyed it!!

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    1. Thanks Loi - just taking a light hearted look at some optical illustions.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,
    When I was at school we had a book of Escher drawings. I remember spending time looking carefully at each one. Isn't it amazing that those last two really do seem to move.

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    1. Dear Kirk - I can distinctly recall my first sighting of Escher's drawings too. A friend introduced me to them in a book she had many years ago. I remember being totally absorbed in looking at them and trying to work them out.
      The very recent ones from Japan definitely do seem to move.

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  15. These optical illusions are such fun. I like the fish birds and not so sure about the grid illusion the dots move so fast! Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - some of them seem to greatly fool the eye - it is a bit frustrating trying to stop them moving and work out exactly what is going on.

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  16. Wauw....things are moving on my Ipad...how interesting...hihi...
    I know the sketches about escher, How longer I looked, I see more new things.
    What a nice post Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice
    Thank you for youre nice comments on my blog.

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    1. It is really strange how some of them give the illusion of moving. Sending greetings to you too Inge.

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  17. Interesting post, Rosemary. I love Escher and have seen a few of these before. I also like the ear-sharing hares and the three bottom ones from the Professor. Very cool.

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    1. I used to have a book with most of Escher's work in it but I can't lay my hands on it. The ear sharing hares is particularly clever.

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  18. Impressive but hard for the eyes.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Best not to look for very long at the three last images Filip.

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  19. ....so of course I came over to your blog to see what you had posted about optical llusions! It felt like a small world when I found you had discovered Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka at the same time as me. You even picked some of my favourite illusions from his pages.

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    1. It is a small world in blogosphere - on several occasions I have encountered others who are thinking along similar lines.

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  20. I got a bit dizzy there looking at the last three images. The circles moved when I moved my head back and forth and starring at the black dot. It's a fun post.

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    1. Pleased that you enjoyed having some interaction with this post Pamela.

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  21. Great images, Rosemary, and my favorite is the two circles that move when one leans forward or backward. One time I tried my hand at creating an Escher illusion like the fish and geese, and it was quite a challenge! Mine was a wreath of St. Nicks and reindeer, and nobody would have looked at it and said, "Oh, just like Escher!"

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    1. Hello Mark - Escher's work looks so simple and yet is very complex. I can imagine that you would like to try your hand at it yourself. I bet that your final result was much more successful than you are mentioning.

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  22. What a fun post.......a little dizzy toward the end but loved the rabbits! Artists often amaze with their creativity and skills.

    Hugs - Mary

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    1. The last three dazzle and that is what probably makes them a little over-whelming - I thought that it would be wise to add a caution. Thanks Mary♥

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  23. How interesting! I like the three hares best of all and will be searching the internet for a stitchery pattern - I'd love to have the image on a cushion.

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    1. It is a lovely imagine - I am dropping hints to my youngest son who does linocuts to try his hand at one.
      We have a friend, Chris Chapman, who has done a project based on the three hares symbol in the West country, mainly Devon, you might like to have a look here to get a few more ideas:-

      http://www.chrischapmanphotography.co.uk/hares/

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    2. Thank you for the link - I'll have a look!

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  24. That was fabulous - thank you. We have two of the triple hare carvings in St Michael's Church in Chagford, where they are known as the 'Tinner's Rabbits'. Chagford is one of the three Stannery towns on Dartmoor where tin was weighed after it was mined.

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    1. Dear Em - I should love to see those - hopefully when we head down your way this year the opportunity might arise. I have mentioned our friend's site on a couple of comments. He did a project on the three hares in the West country which you might find interesting.
      http://www.chrischapmanphotography.co.uk/hares/

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  25. The images are great fun, Rosemary. I do love the three hares - so clever and mystical, too. I'm sure if I visited the Penrose triangle I would be walking round and round it!

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    1. I felt like doing a light hearted post Wendy - glad that you enjoyed seeing it.

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  26. A very different and interesting post Rosemary! Always been amazed by Escher's drawings. I remember I had several of those as postcards when I was a student. Never heard about those hares though and they're one of the oldest optical illusions around it seems. I'm really intrigued by the work of the Japanese professor. It's almost impossible to look at. Gave me a bit of a headache ;) but I guess that would be the case with most people? Not something to look at for too long I guess, unless you concentrate on a portion of a drawing at the time, then it's easier to watch and then you can see how the drawing is built up. Truly inventive.
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - yes, I do believe the hares to be one of the oldest and the Japanese Professor's to be the youngest. They do really dazzle and that is why I decided to put a warning on them.

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  27. Escher has been known to me for some time, but these other illusions are knew to me. As so many others have commented, the rabbits really caught my eye. How lucky for Gina to have a hand-carved belt buckle crafted by her father! What a treasure that is! I, too, would be also walking and walking around the Penrose triangle, as well. When and if I ever get to East Perth I must remember to search it out!

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    1. Dear Mary - thank you for visiting - I am pleased that you have seen Gina's lovely buckle.
      The hares seem to have a mysticism surrounding them in many societies. I find it very interesting that there are many representations of the three hares symbol here in the West country of England.

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  28. Great post Rosemary, amazing how eyes can be fooled ! My favorites are the hares .

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    1. As an painter I am sure that you appreciate the artistic value of the three hares symbol.

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  29. Fascinating post. I like the rabbits too.

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    1. I have been having a bit of light hearted fun Olive - glad you found it fascinating.

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  30. Love the Rotating snakes and have long been a fan of M C Escher. I suspect your Son is a fan of his woodcuts too!

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    1. I am dropping hints to my son to make me a linocut of the three hares symbol. Fingers crossed.

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  31. Hello dear Rosemary,
    I came over to this post from dear Gina's blog.
    I must have missed it along the way.
    Its amazing .. I have seen a few illusion images..but none like these.
    I did not know about the three hares. Must look it up.
    val

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    1. Dear Val - the three hares illusion has been around for over 2000 years, and I think that it brilliantly clever. Gina is fortunate to have that lovely hand carved buckle done by her father.

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