The impulse to challenge users and viewers has long been at the heart of trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) projects. When the eye sees something, the body believes it.
Two-dimensional patterns (made with tiles, carpet, paint, or…..) can create the optical illusion of three dimensionality.
In the pattern above, do you see stacked cubes with white tops? Or white bottoms? Does the image change back and forth for you?
Here, the colors are rearranged. Is the white surface the top, right, left, or bottom of the cube?
Does this pattern look flat or 3-D? Do you see square holes or pyramids?
Is this arrangement actually possible in three dimensions?
This sketch of the floor pattern at the Accademia Museum in Venice shows square “recesses” in the medallion on the right, anchored in a flat peach-colored field. The 3-D illusion is contained, and I don’t fear falling through this floor.
Would this give you vertigo?
Would this stair landing make you pause before walking on it?
Can you feel the surface ripple?
Does this (actually flat) carpeting make you want to stagger? Or worse?
A computer-generated tile design clads these perfectly flat and plumb surfaces. Architect Thom Faulders‘ client said, “I wanted someone to barf when they look at it.” This illusion, versus the reality of its flatness, comes close!
The first five drawings were made by me. The first and second photos’ attributions are TBD; the third photo is courtesy of George Winteringham, via Patternity; the fifth photo is courtesy of Vurdlak; the sixth photo is courtesy of Thom Faulders.
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