The Floor Is Not to Be Trusted.

We love optical illusions here at PuzzleNation Blog. They’re puzzles for the eye, mind-bending ways that our senses can be tricked by clever manipulators of color, angle, and perspective.

And if you’re looking for visual trickery in flooring, look no further than the tile wizards at Casa Ceramica, a UK flooring manufacturer that decided to kill two birds with one stone. (Well, more like many tiles than one stone, but I digress.)

Supposedly, they had a problem with people running down the hallway to their store, and wanted to dissuade such shenanigans.

So they created an optical illusion to make it look like the floor was more treacherous than it really is. That way, ne’er-do-wells would be forced to slow down for their own “safety.”

And not only are they making their place safer, but they’re showing off their impressive skills while they do so! It’s a win-win.

What do you think, fellow puzzlers? Will it work? Or is it just a clever marketing scheme to draw attention to their topnotch tile skills?

Although I firmly believe it’s just an ingenious way to get the word out about their company, they’re not wrong in thinking that this sort of thing could dissuade rambunctious types. Other designers and stores have employed similar trickery in the past.

I mean, if you were trying to get across this floor, would you risk running?

I think not.


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Visual Video Trickery!

illusion1

Visual trickery plays an important role in puzzles. It can be the clever rebus that challenges you to find the words each image represents, or a visual brain teaser that forces you to think outside the box.

But nowhere in the realm of puzzles is visual trickery more obvious or more disconcerting than in optical illusions. Some are simple, like the famous old woman/young woman image above (or this hilarious video version). But others are not only more complex, they’re absolutely mind-bending.

Few optical illusions are as effective as those done on video. Drawings and photos are all well and good, but incorporating movement and performance into the illusion are something else entirely.

And stop-motion animator Kevin Parry has some doozies in his Instagram feed.

Check out this one involving a mirror and a wooded area. I’ve watched it a half-dozen times and I haven’t figured it out yet:

He’s also a dab hand at forced perspective illusions, as he shows in this video with a can of soda:

With innovators like Kevin at work, we will never run short of visual wonders, that’s for sure.


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The Puzzly Art of Anamorphosis

Anamorphic illusions are all about perspective. Making the illusion work requires you to either be in a specific place (positioned a certain distance away and facing a certain direction) or the use of a mirrored cylinder or cone.

Using mirrored objects is called catoptric anamorphosis and using specific perspectives is known as oblique anamorphosis. It’s oblique anamorphosis we’ll be focusing on today.

Most of us have probably seen an example of anamorphosis recently, as it’s become a popular form of urban outdoor art. The ground is painted or colored to provide a fake perspective, and by standing in the proper spot, the illusion is formed.

This creates ample opportunity for some terrific photographs:

[Did you know we’ve got an entire Pinterest page dedicated to this?]

Having a hard time visualizing anamorphosis? Well, the folks at Brasspup have a fantastic YouTube page devoted to science and illusions, and they have several videos featuring some mind-blowing anamorphic illusions.

You can even use light to assist your illusion, as they do here:

What’s even more amazing is that these perspective tricks can move beyond two-dimensional works like paintings and photographs. If you know how to manipulate the viewer, three-dimensional illusions are within your grasp.

Check out this Escher-inspiring creation, built from pens and Jenga blocks! It looks positively impossible!

It really is baffling when you consider how many ways there are to trick the eye. From Necker cubes and shape illusions to forced perspective and anamorphosis, optical illusions are alive and well as a puzzly art form worth exploring.

Heck, look at what we can do with nothing more than black lines!

Imagine trying to walk a straight line in that room. Wow.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Optical Illusion edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’d like to follow up on the subject of optical illusions with a marvelous new example for you.

I’ve written about optical illusions on several occasions, because they’re wonderful visual puzzles that play with our perceptions in clever, unexpected ways. We either see two images in one, or an object floating in space, or we’re simply misled by careful use of angles and lighting.

The band OK Go released their latest music video this week for the song The Writing’s On the Wall, and the video beautifully utilizes numerous optical illusions to create a mind-bending visual experience.

Check it out:

And this is not the band’s first foray into puzzly music video creation, since they took part in an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine for their song This Too Shall Pass:

Here’s hoping they unleash more puzzle-infused fun in their next video.

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Optical illusions: playing with your perspective

Optical illusions are a delight. Puzzles for the eye, they play with our expectations, our deductive abilities, our biological blindspots, and our ability to process light, shadow, motion, and perspective.

We’ve featured optical illusions several times before, from the large-scale works of Felice Varini to the mystery of the Necker Cube, but we never seem to run out of clever ways to deceive the eye and conjure magical effects from the simplest materials.

So today, I thought we could indulge ourselves in some first-class visual trickery. =)

Our first video was produced by Samsung, and features 10 optical illusions in 2 minutes. Can you suss out the techniques being employed?

This next illusion is a prime example of after-images (the most famous one being the American flag with black stars, a tan/yellow field, and black and blue/green stripes).

Forced perspective (like that in the LEGO picture at the top of the page) has been a cherished film and photographic trick for decades — from Darby O’Gill and the Little People to Honey I Blew Up the Kid — and here’s a particularly wonderful illustration of how effective forced perspective can be.

Finally, we have the video that inspired this entry, courtesy of the science-minded folks at IO9.

There is a famous mathematical conundrum known as the triangle paradox (or Curry’s triangle paradox, after magician Paul Curry), wherein it appears that you can lose or gain area from a shape by cutting it into pieces and moving them around.

The video illustrates the concept behind the triangle paradox by offering an intriguing promise: how to cheat mathematics and make chocolate out of nothing. (Warning: watching this video may aggravate your sweet tooth.)

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