What You See Isn’t Really There
Magic isn’t the result of any conjuration of supernatural feats; it’s about creating illusions that make you look like you performed a seemingly impossible or supernatural feat. What you see in front of you isn’t really there; however, knowing that simple fact doesn’t mean you won’t think otherwise.
The video above is an illusion created by the artist Brusspup using anamorphosis, a trick that takes advantage of how our brains make sense of the world by using distorted perception. By having the viewer focus on a specific vantage point, the artist is able to trick us into thinking we’re staring at a three-dimensional Rubik’s Cube. However, the moment the orientation is shifted, as Brusspup moves the paper, the illusion disappears.
When our brains are presented with contradictory images, our mind’s eyes seek to create order. While we may know that the Rubik’s Cube in the video is not a three-dimensional object, we see what makes sense. In Lawrence Wright’s book Perspective in Perspective, he tells the story of a Moorish Caliph about to appoint a Grand Vizier. “He invited the candidates to identify an object lying or floating in shallow water. All but one promptly said it to be an orange. One picked it up, and identified it as half an orange; he got the job.” We never see the whole of a solid object at any given moment; however, our brain completes an image on assumptions. You believe the globe in your room is a sphere, even though you never see all sides at once.