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Art as Visual Research: 12 Examples of Kinetic Illusions in Op Art

Art and neuroscience combine in creating fascinating examples of illusory motion

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Combination of the Rotating-Tilted-Lines and Enigma

Gori and Hamburger's combination of the Rotating-Tilted-Lines and the Enigma illusion is both visually arresting and a powerful demonstration of illusory motion from a static pattern. The Enigma illusion, almost three decades after its creation in 1981 by Leviant, continues to inspire visual science as well the visual arts. ....[ More ]

The Rotating-Tilted-Lines illusion

Artist Miwa Miwa's variant of the Rotating-Tilted-Lines illusion pays homage to "Vertigo," the classic film by Alfred Hitchcock.....[ More ]

The Rotating-Tilted-Lines illusion

The Rotating-Tilted-Lines Illusion, by vision scientists Simone Gori and Kai Hamburger, then at the University of Freiburg in Germany, is a novel variation of the Enigma effect and Bridget Riley's Blaze.....[ More ]

More of Kitaoka's Op Art

Hatpin Urchin, by Kitaoka, dramatically demonstrates the importance of eye movements in the perception of this kinetic illusion.....[ More ]

The Ouchi Illusion

This illusion is a contemporary variation on the Ouchi pattern, by Kitaoka. ....[ More ]

The Ouchi Illusion

This illusion is by op artist Hajime Ouchi. Move your head back and forth as you let your eyes wander around the image and notice how the circle and its background appear to shift independently of one another.....[ More ]

Bridget Riley's Motion Illusions

In another tribute to Riley, vision scientist Nick Wade of the University of Dundee in Scotland created an example that features both streaming and shimmering motion, and it is reminiscent of various famous Riley artworks.....[ More ]

Bridget Riley's Motion Illusions

Most of the motion illusions featured in this slide show are potentially triggered by eye movements, both large and small. This pattern, by op artist Bridget Riley, gives the impression of fast spiraling motion as observers move their eyes around the image.....[ More ]

Enigmatic Eye

Look at the center of the pupil and you will see the surrounding purple rings fill with rapid illusory motion. Neuroscientist and engineer Jorge Otero-Millan's tribute to Leviant features the illusory motion seen in Enigma, and it also reflects the role of eye movements in the perception of the illusion.....[ More ]

Christmas Lights

The Christmas Lights illusion, by visual illusion artist Gianni A. Sarcone, is also based on Leviant's Enigma. Notice the appearance of a flowing motion along the green-yellow stripes.....[ More ]

Op Art Is Alive and Well

Vision scientist Akiyoshi Kitaoka at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, follows on the footsteps of the great op artists of some decades ago. Waterway Spirals is a compelling and powerful version of Leviant's Enigma.....[ More ]

The Enigma Illusion

Op artist Isia Leviant unknowingly combined the MacKay Rays and the BBC wallboard illusion in the now classic Enigma illusion.  Several original Leviant paintings illustrating this effect hang in the San Francisco Exploratorium, including its very first version (known as the Traffic Illusion).....[ More ]

BBC Wallboard

This illusion has its origin as a chance observation. MacKay first observed this effect on the wallboard of a BBC studio: the broadcasting staff had been annoyed by illusory shadows running up and down blank strips between columns of parallel lines.....[ More ]

MacKay Rays

This illusion, created in 1957 by neuroscientist Donald M. MacKay (then at King's College London in England), shows that simple patterns of regular or repetitive stimuli, such as radial lines (called "MacKay rays") can induce the perception of shimmering or illusory motion at right angles to those of the pattern.....[ More ]

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