The ‘Best Illusions of the Year’ have just been released, and yes, your brain will hurt

Humans

The Best Illusions of the Year competition is nothing to sneeze at – every year a group of experts (along with internet users) vote for the most interesting and mind-melting illusions, submitted from all over the world.

And this year is no exception; we have everything from trippy snakes to a three-way ambiguous object.

Let’s take a look at the winners this year.

First prize went to no other than Kokichi Sugihara – the illusion genius who has given us the arrow that points both ways, and the physical squares-to-circles illusion.

This year he went a bit more 2D, but the effect is no less memorising. The illusion, called ‘Triply Ambiguous Object’, shows a mirror with one 2D object looking like three entirely different objects.

If it wasn’t for a little flag, one would be tricked into believing it was three items, instead of one reflected in two mirrors. Then, a hand comes into the shot to spin it around, and the illusion is barely broken as the shape is moved into a new position.

The reason why this illusion works is because of slanted lines in the image; and that flag is actually important for the overall effect.

“We perceive three different structures because they are compressed in different directions,” the judges explain.

“The pole with a flag represents the direction of the gravity, which strengthens the illusion.”

The second place winner by David Phillips, Priscilla Heard, and Christopher Tyler is a bit more complicated, but equally weird.

It’s called ‘Movement Illusion with a Twist’ – as you can see in the video above, once you add some upward-moving blue dots behind an image of upward-moving yellow diamonds, the latter start looking like they are also shifting to the right.

Arrange the diamonds into a truncated triangle, and it looks like the arrangement expands outwards. Flip that into a parallelogram, and it’ll act like a 3D object spiralling upwards.

(Just watch it for yourself to get the full effect, although our editor got motion sickness from the video, so you’ve been warned).

Third prize this year went to Michael Pickard and Gurpreet Singh – it looks at a weird colour illusion.

The video above, called ‘The Worm’s Eye View Illusion’ shows four images of a colourful snake, played in a loop to create a moving image.

When the snake is light green and maroon, it appears to be going one way, but change the colours to pink and dark green, and it suddenly reverses. How come?

“This change of direction occurs because the viewer automatically sees the most prominent of the two colours as foreground and the less prominent colour as background,” explain the judges.

“As the slider changes the relative brightness of the two colours one way or another, whichever colour stands out as the foreground determines the direction of motion.”

Finally, we’re going to also include this fourth place entry, because it is simply the cutest.

This one, by Takahiro Kawabe, is called “Danswing Papers” and it expands on an illusion called (we kid you not) the ‘phenomenal phenomenon’.

By using a dark edge on one side, and a light edge on the other, Kawabe’s paper shapes appear to be moving in front of a screen that flashes between black and white. Just wait until they get to the dancing crabs…

If you want even more, you can see all top 10 finalists at the Illusion of the Year website.

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