Impossible Figures!

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An interesting thing that I recently came across was something called an impossible figure. An impossible figure is an illusion created by a two dimensional figure that the visual system subconsciously interprets as a three dimensional figure. At first, the brain processes the figure to be three dimensional but after staring at the figure for a few seconds you begin to realize that it is impossible and that figure is really two dimensional.One person who mastered this illusion was M.C. Escher. In his famous drawing Waterfall (shown below), the path that the stream of water takes appears to recede farther away rather than go to the top of the waterfall. He uses cues to enhance the height in field effect which makes the water appear to flow downhill and still end up higher than it started.
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Another famous impossible figure is the Penrose triangle(above), which appears to lie in a plane and one side seems to project out at an angle from the other two sides. Both of these images appear this way because of Gestalts laws of closure, which state that we will see objects as wholes and fill in what is missing. Here are a few more pictures below, can you see how they are impossible?

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11 Comments

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Very creative article. I like how you incorporated serval examples into your blog. No matter how many times I stare at some of these pictures I still cannot figure out how they work! M.C. Escher is an artistic genius for creating paintings in such a spectacular fashion.

Your blogpost is very interesting to read and visualize. It is very engaging to look at the pictures and try to find the "impossible" part. Nice job!

I like your blog post! It is very interesting how our brain can trick us into thinking some things and also how someone can become this good at creating these illusions!

I've heard about the illusion that our eyes and the brain trick us like these images. I think it is the 3D structure of the pictures that makes us so confused.

This is a very interesting post! I know I've seen some of these pictures before but have never heard any background information on them. All the pictures are nice support to your blog; they really do twist your mind while you're looking at them though!

This was a very interesting blog post. I like how you incorporated many different examples rather than just one. As I looked at the examples I had a hard time figuring them out, but by reading your background about each of them helped me try to figure them out. I also liked how you used the Gestalt grouping principle to support your findings.

I remember seeing pictures like these in magazines or on the back of cereal boxes when I was younger and always being so amazed and confused about how pictures like these work. Thanks for providing so many examples to look at too! I'm still amazed with how our brains process impossible figures like these!

I grew up with posters of these impossible figures in my classrooms! I would get distracted in class just staring at them, trying to figure out how they worked. Great use of several picture examples in the blog, it makes it easier to understand your topic!

I'm like the other commenters above in how I'd always used to see these images in class and try to figure them out! I'm still really intrigued by how visual cues can sometimes be used to deceive us. Overall, very interesting blog post, and I'm glad you explained it with the visual cues we learned in class.

Very good blog post. I loved all of the illustrations and the pictures you provided. They really had my brain going crazy trying to see it how it is but I guess that is why they call them impossible figures. I really liked that you not only described how the brain perceives the images and how the artist create them to do so, but that you also provided examples of them.

Very interesting article! I have always loved looking at these images, and I love that you put so many examples in your blog post. It was very interesting to read about why these pictures cause us so much confusion.

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This page contains a single entry by gager006 published on February 17, 2012 2:25 PM.

Do You Hear What I Hear? was the previous entry in this blog.

Could Our Minds be Our Greatest Defenders? is the next entry in this blog.

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