For fifteen years, the Neural Correlate Society and Museum of the Mind have encouraged artists and scientists to submit their work to the Best Illusion of the Year contest. Each participant asked to create a short video of their illusion. This celebration of ingenuity and creativity showcases talent from around the world. This year’s competitive field was narrowed from ten finalists to the grand prize winner, who took home $3,000.
Game developer Frank Force won first place for his hypnotic Dual Axis Illusion. As viewers watch a shape spin around, they’re asked to figure out if it’s rotating on a vertical or horizontal axis. Luckily there are some subtle visual cues in the video to help make a decision. Second place winner Haruaki Fukuda of the University of Tokyo plays with color perceptions and movement in Change the Color. In this optical illusion, colored dots are in movement and depending on how the viewer perceives that movement, the color of the dots change.
Showing just how diverse optical illusions can be, the top three winners are rounded out by The Rotating Circles of Illusion. Created by Ryan E.B. Mruczek and Gideon Paul Caplovitz from the College of the Holy Cross and the University of Nevada Reno, it shows how a static central circle can appear to move differently depending on the path of circles that surround it.
If you love optical illusions but are often stumped by the science behind them, you’ll be pleased to know that each video also includes an explanation that unveils their inner workings. And, just to add to the feast of illusions, all ten finalists are available online.