04 July 2009

Here's a brilliant trompe l'oeil

It's the Fourth of July, a pretty important holiday in the US and I'm taking the opportunity to write something unrelated to the design world. Sort of.

Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. He's also one of my heroes. Wiseman has made a career out of bringing the academic study of Psychology to the people, and he does it with a brilliant sense of humor and wonder. Check out the illusion he illustrates in this video. It's only a minute long and it will blow you away, it did me at any rate.

I talk a lot in my design practice about fooling the eye and making things disappear. I'm usually talking pretty figuratively but Professor Wiseman's being literal here. His video proves the point brilliantly that human brains, fantastic machines though they be, can be fooled. Remember that the next time someone sees Jesus in a Frito. Remember it too when someone like me tells you that he can make a flaw in a room disappear. If you know the rules, anything's possible.


  1. That's it? Where is your patriotism? I was at least expecting a video of you doing a rendition of the 'Stars and Stripes Forever March' with you waving the flag. :)

    Have a great Paul! -Brenda-

    P.S: The Vanishing Head Illusion was most interesting.

  2. Oops, that shud have read "Have a great DAY Paul!" (There is something most definitely wrong with my keyboard...I swear it.) -Brenda-

  3. Speaking of fooling one's brain, I didn't notice your missing word. My brain expected the word day to be there and that's precisely what I saw when I read your original comment. Funny how that works. Anyhow thank you Brenda, and happy belated Canada Day.


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