It’s baffling to think that your eyes and brain can play tricks on you, but that’s the very basis of the incredible, disorientating art of optical illusions. For at least a century – if not many millennia – artists have drawn dazzling pictures that deceive the beautifully complex human mind into believing that the various shapes within them are somehow shifting. But make no mistake: each image in this collection of 20 mind-bending pictures is stationary, even though not a single one of them will appear that way.
There are two ways in which optical illusions can work their mysterious magic: by taking advantage of the restrictions of human eyes, or by manipulating the processes of the brain to force the viewer to see strange things. In this first image, for instance, the pattern seems to vibrate against itself, simultaneously drawing in and pushing out at the observer.
Image: Gianni Sarcone via Smithsonian.com
Gianni Sarcone is the man behind this throbbing optical illusion. Just stare at the skull in the center to see the rest of the image throbbing. Moreover, careful closer inspection reveals the secret behind the effect: the pulsing sections are made up of horizontal lines, while the “stationary” sections feature vertical lines.