"He can put things
together in such a
way as to hobble
certain runners in
the race for our
attention and give
a shotof speed
Jerry Andrus on Perceiving Reality
|By Jeanine DeNoma|
In the Summer 1995 Pro Facto we featured an introduction to Jerry Andrus, including a picture of his three-dimensional, Escher-style illusion, “The Impossible Box.” As promised, pictured here is the solution. Also featured in this article are two illusions invented and drawn by Andrus, complete with instructions on how to see the illusional effects. Like the currently popular Magic Eye illusions, most people need to work at it, at first, to see the effects.
“The beauty of what [Jerry] does in these illusions is that he has a really nice understanding of how [focal awareness and short-term memory] work, and he builds on these, playing on the fact that there is going to be a winner in the race for what is going to be in our consciousness at any given time. He can put things together in such a way as to hobble certain runners in the race for our attention and give a shot of speed to others. That is why so many of his illusions work as nicely as they do ... Things will be going on in tandem and the brain has a certain set of rules, again outside of our awareness, for selecting which one is going to be the ‘best.’ And the best is going to be the one you are going to experience at that time,” said Barry Beyerstein, speaking of Jerry Andrus at the Eugene workshop on human error.
Andrus is a CSICOP Fellow, magician, and inventor of optical illusions and magic tricks. He is known among magicians as being one of the few who can consistently fool other magicians. He is a master at using what he knows about how we perceive the world, to create illusions which fool our senses. Things are not always as they seem when Jerry is around!
Two stereoscopic illusions created by Jerry Andrus are included in this article; the Lightning Illusion is shown below and the Wave Illusion displays by itself, due to size. The technique Jerry recommends for seeing their three-dimensional effect is as follows.
Start by holding a pencil on the paper in front of the image. Look at the image, not the pencil. Slowly bring the pencil up, toward your face. At some point, the pencil will break into two images; there will appear to be two pencils. This is where the pencil’s image is lying independently on the retina of each eye and can not be resolved into a single image.
To see the Wave Illusion, reorient the picture so the waves are running
horizontally. Position the pencil so its “two” points are directly under
adjacent “humps” of the bottom wave. Now, without changing the position
of either the pencil or the paper, move your focus from the paper to the
pencil. The waves should appears as a series of successively higher sine
waves or springs. For added effect, you can pass your pencil behind the
To see the Lightning Illusion, place the two pencil point images between two adjacent spikes of lightning. As with the Wave Illusion, change your focus from the paper to the pencil. The spikes of lightning suddenly stand up on alternating planes in space.
With practice and patience, you should see the image take on a three-dimensional aspect - the picture jumps into the air, no longer confined to the sheet of paper. You will know it when you get it!
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