Food for Thought: Visual Illusions Good Enough to Eat [Preview]

Face or food? The brain recognizes edible artwork on multiple levels

Pointillist painters such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac juxtaposed multiple individual points to create color blends that were very different from the colors in the original dots. But in a very real sense, all art is pointillism. In fact, all visual perception is pointillism. Our retinas are sheets of photoreceptors, each sampling a finite circular area of visual space. Every photoreceptor then connects to downstream neural circuits that build our perception of objects, faces, loved ones and everything else. Thus, vision itself is largely a pointillist illusion, colored by a tremendous amount of “guesstimation” and filling in on the part of our brain. It doesn't matter whether the painter uses brushstrokes or fields of dots to define surfaces.

The dots that compose these images of a cherry-topped cupcake (left) and Laurel and Hardy (right) are made from multicolored jelly beans, a technique that is not only clever but also delicious. Eat your heart out, Seurat.

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