Does this photo unnerve you? Does it make you slightly queasy? I’m sure you’ll figure out why, but isn’t it curious that our brains try to make sense of what may be nonsense. And that process either results in an illusion we adopt as reality, or our brains fail and the result is a disturbing reprocessing loop, a cycle of trying to figure out what the hell it is we’re seeing.
Our visual cortex takes up a vast amount of our brain. Patterns sent to that visualization engine are coerced into classifications tuned over millions of generations of evolutionary refinement. When a new pattern, perhaps one that is nonsensical in its current orientation, is sent requesting analysis and classification—but that categorization fails, it seems that one of two things happen:
1) The image is so chaotic that it overwhelms the brain’s pattern processing capabilities resulting in an acceptance of chaos, a “this cannot be understood” conclusion. At this point our brain gives up and a certain calm ensues.
2) The image registers just below the brain’s threshold of chaos. There’s enough sense, enough recognizable pattern evidence that the brain does not give up and continues to try and come to grips with the subject matter within the image. At this point we typically find, “that thing’s making me sick, take it away.”
Hetty Eliot over on https://whothehellknows.home.blog/ called me out. That’s no illusion. OK, she got me. So what and where are the best illusions?
http://illusionoftheyear.com/2011/05/mask-of-love/ was one of the better ones.