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​Graduate Student wins the third prize in the Illusion of the Year Contest 2016​

Published on: 04-Jul-2016

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The Best Illusion of the YearSM Contest defines itself as '​a celebration of illusions and perception, created by the ingenuity of the world's premier illusion creators'. Illusions, according to the organisers, are perceptual experiences that do not match the physical reality.​

The contest consists of three stages: submission, selection of the Top 10 finalists, and election of the Top 3 winners. The selection of the Top 10 finalists is done by a panel of impartial judges, who narrow down all submissions to the Top 10 best entries which will be featured in the contest's website and open for public voting.

The judges of the 2016 edition of the Contest were: Stephen Macknik (Moderator) from the SUNY Downstate Medical Center (USA); Allison Sekuler from the Vision and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the McMaster University (Canada); Rosa Lafer-Sousa from Kanwinsher Lab at the MIT (USA); Patrick Terry, presenter of the Wondershow (USA); Françoise Pétry, editor of the magazine 'Cerveau & Psycho' (France); Devin Powell, freelance writer for the Smithsonian, National Georgraphic, Nature, The Washington Post and New Scientist (USA); and Alexa Meade, artist who turns real life people into seemingly 2D works of art (USA).

Christine Veras' animated illusion is an homage to early tropes that have been tricking our senses since the Victorian Era. The Silhouette Zoetrope offers a paradigm shift from the traditional Zoetrope. Not only through the inversion of its structure, but also through the combination between shadow puppet tradition and the early optical toy. The renewal of pre-cinematic optical devices in contemporary times offers a possibility to the public to experience animation beyond the limits of the screen.

When the Silhouette Zoetrope is rotated, the slots strobe behind the cutout images, animating them apparently inside the empty slotted cylinder, which creates the illusion of moving silhouettes placed into space. Each cutout image is attached to a stick and placed outside the slotted cylinder, rather than inside as in the traditional zoetrope. The interior of the slotted cylinder is white, while the external side and the cutouts are painted black. The spectral resulting animated image is vertically flipped and slightly bigger than the actual cutout. ​

The Silhouette Zoetrope combines different types of optical illusions related to depth perception cue, focus accommodation conflict and Emmert's law, all into one device, which is unique. The resulting animated image only exists in our brain. The illusion of movement created by the silhouette zoetrope not only contributes to a better understand on how our brain perceives synthetic movement, but it also illustrates how the impression of an image placed into space can be created without the use of projection or digital technology. It is a unique combination of what can be characterized as shadow puppets and an inside-out zoetrope, enabling the viewer to see moving silhouettes. The fields of optics, physics, neuroscience, and stereoscopy come together in this invention. The relationship between 'what the eye sees ​and what the mind perceives' in this device is still being studied and tested further in NTU as part of Veras's Doctoral research.


The results can be seen in the video she has prepared for the contest:​JfM


And also in the Contest's website:


The Gizmodo website has made an article about her invention:


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