March 12, 2010

Illusionist

impossible fork.JPG"i agree"


I.

The brain assumes that any two lines which meet must form a plane; specifically, that they do not overlap but separated along a third access by empty space.

But what makes the object an illusion isn't that the lines don't meet-- they do; but that the surfaces-- middle "prong" (starting from the tip and moving back towards the base)-- don't meet.  In fact, the surface disappears.  The illusion, therefore, is one of constancy: in a static 2D drawing, an object cannot disappear into nothingness.

The parts of the object are perfectly ordinary-- consider the tips vs. the base-- but their union presents a paradox because a static depiction demands change.  It asks you to see the prong as both prong and empty space-- that it changes before your eyes.  A surface becomes a boundary, and a boundary becomes a surface.  It is as if the fork exists in two simultaneous states, an idea which is incompatible with our reality.



II.

"It's an illusion.  It's an impossible object."

How is it an illusion?  How is it impossible?  It's completely possible, I'll draw it myself:

hand drawn fork.JPG
So real is this object that I could teach a blind man to draw it.  How can you say it doesn't exist? 

The illusion isn't that this 3D object doesn't exist.  The illusion is that this object represents a 3D object at all, and that that 3D object doesn't exist.  But the 2D drawing certainly exists, and the 2D object is not telling you to see it as a 3D object, the object isn't talking to you.  The question you should be asking yourself is why you need to see this as 3D.   No sane person looks at this 2D drawing and says it is impossible:


my 20s.JPG


The fork isn't an optical illusion at all; the eye sees perfectly clearly what is before it.  This is a cognitive illusion; and, indeed, it isn't even an illusion-- your cognition parses every detail, analytically, interprets the discontinuities as part of a continuum.  In short, the cognition knows fully well that what it sees is easily drawn in 2D and impossible to construct in 3D, and knows precisely where the error lies-- and yet it wants wants to see this object-- not any 2D objects, not a scribble ball, but this specific object-- in 3D, despite its better judgment.  This isn't involuntary; you can stop any time you want.  You want to see this a certain way, and so you choose to do so. 

You are being lied to, by yourself.








Comments

Am I reading too much into ... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 12:36 PM | Posted by Archon: | Reply

Am I reading too much into this, or are you feeling bitter and angry at the moment? I mean more so than usual.

Which is not to say that the post isn't brilliant.

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BS. The circles at the end... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 1:11 PM | Posted by CC: | Reply

BS. The circles at the end make you think the prongs are cones of some sort. That thought is involuntary. One has to concentrate to get over that thought. Sort of like if I start beating the crap out of you, you'll start flinching _even before the next blow falls_.

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bravo. the old epicurean sh... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 4:47 PM | Posted by antoine: | Reply

bravo. the old epicurean shitty phallacy still goes around. ''your senses are unreliable and lie to you; look at the stick halfway into the water, how it bends etc.'' oh, yeah, wise guy? and how did you gain the conscience of that, if not by your senses themselves? they work so well you could even perceive this detour

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"You are being lied to, by ... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 5:07 PM | Posted by Sarah G: | Reply

"You are being lied to, by yourself."

And yet, you are aware of it. Some part of you is telling you the truth also.

Congrats for giving us a visual demonstration of cognitive dissonance.

:)

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Your senses aren't lying, t... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 5:28 PM | Posted by Roy : | Reply

Your senses aren't lying, they're simply feeding into what will be an insufficient and incorrect assessment, based on the attempt to deceive them by the drawer of the object that knows from his own (and others) experience that the deception will work - because the assessment process looks for the probable versus the improbable and can't always determine the difference.

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you may be the most sentien... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 5:46 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

you may be the most sentient pirate in the last three centuries

how have you developed such awareness?

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"It is as if the fork exist... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2010 5:48 PM | Posted by izrik: | Reply

"It is as if the fork exists in two simultaneous states, an idea which is incompatible with our reality."

Mr. Schrödinger would seem to disagree with you. =)
Fun stuff.

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Classes, categories, rules ... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2010 1:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Classes, categories, rules ... how the brain organizes the world of perception and it's representation in thought and expression.

A second look is needed to refine focus and arrive at a more accurate conclusion.

It's like progressively rendered pictures being downloaded from the internet. Pixels become more refined as they gain resolution.

Progressive perception as a lie? Anthropomorphic analysis.

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Yes, while making a fully r... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2010 3:31 PM | Posted by Bane Aizas: | Reply

Yes, while making a fully realized 3D object from the above drawing would be impossible, the drawing itself is not. Thanks for clearing that up. I'd hate to watch you annoy an adolescent with this revelation while they were playing a level of Echochrome.

However, the only line in the drawing that doesn't describe a fully realizable 3D object is the fourth from the left. Apart from that line's disjunct termini, the object could be said to consist of two equidistant tongs with a middle tong extending from a piece slightly below the other two.

The illusory aspect of the drawn object functions like a modulation in music: Two thirds of the drawing seem to describe one kind of object (three equidistant tongs), the other third, another (two tongs with space between them). The deception occurs where the mind alternates between ideas of the two objects, unable to reconcile them into one spatially, all of which hinges on transitional lines between the two ideas. The viewer breaks the object into three pieces of time, which form a narrative with the two concepts at either end.

However, to assert that the object pictured is not illusory because it exists as a drawing is disappointingly literal-minded. It ignores the drawing's function, which is as a visual pun -- specifically, a modulated double image.

Magritte paintings, Charles Addams cartoons, the martini glass between two faces, examples in books about psychology or graphic design -- all use illusions, but often as puns, and usually in the service of ideas that are more literary than visual. For you to reduce, by extension, all such cases to examples of everyone else's narcissism sounds a bit like projection on your part, don't you think?

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What I took from it was a c... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2010 8:39 PM | Posted by Basil Valentine: | Reply

What I took from it was a comment on how we reflexively try to analyze and interpret things, to the point where the representation of the object becomes the object. Rather than declaring such drawings "impossible" or calling them illusions, we should just recognize that if it's a representation of a 3D object, it's a (possibly intentionally) faulty one, but in any case it's just a drawing.

Which is a pretty good metaphor for a lot of things, come to think about it. Like narcissism, obviously: the lie that you tell yourself despite contradictory details being present.

What I like about the post is that it, too, can be seen from a couple different perspectives (as evinced by the comments), making it a sort of second-order illusion that's all mental.

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The wild geese do not inten... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2010 7:37 AM | Posted by shaan: | Reply

The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection,
The water has no mind to receive their image.

-zen proverb

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But in fact when they learn... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2010 8:50 PM | Posted, in reply to shaan's comment, by Roy : | Reply

But in fact when they learn it's been cast, they may then intend to repeat the exercise. There are minds beneath the surface that react to the image as well.
But zen what do I know.

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The cool thing is that our ... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2010 8:49 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

The cool thing is that our minds are so efficient at taking in a bit of info, and successfully guesstimating what things are truly like, and nearly always being dead-on correct, with very little effort or attention. Possibly it could be argued no attention or effort other than being awake.

It takes a lot of effort to step out of these automatic processes and figure out exactly what it is that you are seeing. Or that is being presented to you as a reasonable interpretation of facts, and appropriate subsequent decision-making.

It was very difficult for us liberals to "see" the rudeness at the recent academy awards, when some Maude-character Elinor Burkett threw a sexist comment to the audience about fellow award-winner Roger Ross Williams. "Isn't it just like a man not to let the woman talk?"

We liberals are always ready to see racism, and sexism, effortlessly. All you have to do is have a female make a complaint, and we "see" sexism with no effort. Or, have a Black person experience some typical, mundane interpersonal transgression and we "see" racism. Immediately. Effortlessly.

But at these recent Oscars, when a female threw a sexist comment at a Black man while shoving him away from his deserved moment in the limelight, we did not know how to put the bits of info that we are looking at into a cohesive whole, just like when encountering this illustration of Escher's tuning fork.

So, be nice to your liberal friends for a while. We are still reeling from this cognitive dissonance. We saw a Black guy get shoved to the side by whitey, and saw a female getting oppressed yet again by a male. We are not yet sure in which direction to aim our righteous indignation.

It takes a lot of effort to step out of these automatic processes and figure out exactly what it is that you are seeing.

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"... and the 2D object is n... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2010 11:22 AM | Posted by Zachary: | Reply

"... and the 2D object is not telling you to see it as a 3D object, the object isn't talking to you."

WRONG. If you're reading it, it's for you!

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I've been debating to mysel... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2010 5:54 PM | Posted by Dustin: | Reply

I've been debating to myself whether your writing is caustic for effect, or if you're just an insufferable prick. This post pushes the needle towards insufferable prick. Don't get me wrong, I usually find your writing insightful either way, but your analysis of this illusion is pretty asinine.

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Wow.. This make me confuse.... (Below threshold)

March 15, 2010 11:55 PM | Posted by Musical Instruments: | Reply

Wow.. This make me confuse....2D.. 3D...

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Malapropos, you will be del... (Below threshold)

March 18, 2010 9:58 AM | Posted by Per Jørgensen: | Reply

Malapropos, you will be delighted to hear I was just presented with an ad for Aston Martin on this very page. Acura is for the plebes.

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You know...I really thought... (Below threshold)

March 23, 2010 3:33 AM | Posted by MH: | Reply

You know...I really thought about this one - then I thought about some little fragment of a thing I remembered from Aristotle, or one of those guys - the idea was that a perfect square, or circle, or any shape does not exist in the world, but only in our minds.

2D images don't really exist. If you draw something on paper, of course it is physically 3-dimensional, ie, the ink has height and width and all that. It is simply a representation of an idea, the same way 2+2=4 represents quantities. So really, a purely 2D image can only exist in our thoughts. That being said, is it possible our 5 senses, which are physical in nature, are attuned, if you will, to observing and interpreting things that exist in our physical world?

If not, then forget I said anything. But if so, it could maybe start down the road of explaining the "need" to analyze this drawing in 3D terms. Maybe I'm just too much like Edward Cullen, and I just can't help it.

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Thank you for providing suc... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2013 12:14 AM | Posted by Female Illusionist: | Reply

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<a href="http://goog... (Below threshold)

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