Illusions and the Brain


Paige D'Angelo

For this studio, “Illusions and the Brain”, we designed a Perspective Tunnel which is a short length tunnel that gives the illusion of longer length tunnel by adding special effects. Our group wanted to create the Perspective Tunnel to show how a short run could appear very long to the eye by adding effects. Inside the Perspective Tunnel are square cut outs that get smaller as they go back into the tunnel. LED lights under the square cut outs slowly turn on and off square by square into the distance to make it seem that the tunnel keeps going into the horizon. Our inspiration came from looking at a video based on a fire illusion. After doing further research, our group decided to make this Perspective Tunnel because it was portable and could be shown anywhere.

Taste Illusion

Charlie DeLorey

Last Friday Shai demonstrated a very interesting illusion, using these pills called Miracle Fruit. They bond to taste receptors on the tongue. When acidic foods, such as lemons or even sour pickles, are eaten, it induces the taste of sweet rather than sour, making sour foods taste sweet. I personally ate lemons, grapefruit, and blood orange. The lemons in particular tasted very sweet, in my opinion.

Infinity Mirror Project Concept

Charlie DeLorey

My project is to create an infinity mirror. An infinity mirror works by bouncing the light from the LEDs back and forth repeatedly, which eventually seem to fade the further away you look. This creation of many rows and columns of LED lights creates the illusion of depth, so it looks like a tunnel or tube that goes on forever.


Cameron Mayer

Original Idea

Our first step was to work on the prototype for our project. Originally, our idea was to almost recreate a kickstarter in which 2D images were sketched into acrylic and then lit up in order to appear 3D. In order to do this, we designed a sphere in Rhino and flattened it so the 2D ball would really seem 3D. Then, we cut our design on clear acrylic and lit up the design with a powerful flashlight -- and it worked: when the acrylic was lit up, the 2D design of a ball looked 3D!

Problem #1

After we had completed the first prototype, we realized that we had simply copied an idea that someone else had already thought of so it was time to think of a way to put a spin on the idea in order to create a unique project. On second day, we started off trying to create other designs on Rhino. However, neither of us was proficient in using Rhino and after we didn't have anything to show for a half an hour of work, we realized we would have to move on to plan B.

Solution #1

The inspiration for our solution was the Moore pattern. A Moore design is a pattern that spins against the same pattern but mirrored. The illusion comes in when the two patterns spin against each other: to the viewer, when the patterns are spinning in opposite directions, it seems as though the lines are continuous. We started experimenting with Moore patterns by designing them and printing them out on transparency paper in order to test them. By the end of the day, we had gone through three different versions of one pattern and were pleased with the results. However, after we finished printing the patterns, we realized that we had forgotten to incorporate our original idea from the first day: making an 2D image appear 3D. In order to solve this problem, we placed the original sphere we worked on during the first day day into the center of the pattern. Our plan was to eventually light up the designs which we hoped would have an interesting affect on the pattern since we planned to cut our pattern out on acrylic.

We spent all of day three cutting out our designs out on the laser cutter. At the beginning of the day, we cut the design we had completed on the second day. For the first two circles, we used clear acrylic. However, as soon as we looked at the laser cut piece, we realized we had made a huge mistake in measuring:the circles in our design weren't centered! We went back into Rhino and carefully measured each part of the design to ensure we wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. After lunch, we went back into the tool shop to cut again, this time using a thinner acrylic as we had used up the last of the clear acrylic material. When printing the second version of the pattern, we made another mistake: we forgot to account for the thickness of the acrylic now that it was so much thinner and as a result, on one of the patterns, the laser cutter almost cut through the material as opposed to just etching.

Problem #2

In the middle of the work week, we realized that our project wasn’t working: we were trying to combine two different illusions in hopes of creating an interesting product, but in reality, we were just making both illusions weaker than they started out. Additionally, we realized that our project was essentially an exact replication of the way Jeff Lieberman had used a Moore pattern. After thinking this through, it was clear we needed a new plan.

Solution #2

In order to create a product that looked both interesting and was technically correct, we needed to create a clearer and more aesthetically pleasing design. Then, we need to take out the solid ball from the center because it was ruining the illusion. Then we had to think of a way to make our final design even more different than either of the examples. Our solution: make the two plates rotate without an axle in the center! In order to make this idea possible, we would need to create a box around the moore pattern which will hold the gears. By doing this, we will have taken an interesting design and making it even more unique by creating a centerless circle that rotates with a pattern as well as making the illusion portable instead of having to be stuck on a wall!


Since we were essentially restarting the project, we needed to rethink the way the patterns would spin. In our new design we had the patterns placed inside of a box. There would be two gears attached to motors which would make the two plates spin. Additionally, four gears on each corner of the box would help stabilize the plates to ensure they would not slip off the gear attached to the motor. We constructed a 3D model of our design on Rhino where the box, and basic gear mechanisms were represented. After the 3D model was complete, we made a template for the laser cutter, laying out all the pieces we would need cut in order to put together our prototype.

Final Project Week

We chose to take this project further during the final project period of time.  We worked really hard on finishing it and making sure that it would always work.  We started by fixing the gear system and how that it spun.  Originally there were wood gears and wood circle that was holding everything in place.  This had to be changed because we could not tighten the box without creating large amounts of friction preventing the design from spinning.  We decided to put ball bearings inside of the gears.  This would allow us to put pressure on the ball bearing without adding friction to the gears.  Also to fit the ball bearings we 3D printed the gears and a ring to hold the big gear in place.  This new gear system helped the rotation tremendously.  

We also redesigned our design for the middle.  We made the design so that it looked like it was creating a continuous curve at when it spun at certain interference points.  The new design makes the whole project look a lot cleaner and makes the illusion stronger.  

Originally we  were powering it using batteries, but it seemed that every couple days our batteries died.  This made us change our mind and power it using an outlet.   Even though this makes it less portable it will allow it to run and last much longer.  


Saba Ghole


Cameron Mayer

The goal of our studio was to create an effective illusion. In exploring this theme, we created a portable spinning Moire design.

We were originally inspired by a kickstarter where a 2D image was sketched into acrylic but when light was shined on the image, it appeared 3D. We were intrigued by the fact that light was able to have such a profound effect on an image and we wanted to try it out for ourselves. Our other inspiration was the Moire design art piece created by Jeff Leiberman. We were fascinated with the way the lines seemed to never end and and wanted to try to create a pattern of our own.

Our final product spins by itself when it is plugged into the wall, creating an interesting pattern that repeats. Our Moire pattern consists of two pieces of wood with the patterns cut into them. The two pieces of wood are in a box surrounded by five gears each: four to keep to plates on the right track and one gear connected to the motor that makes the plate spin.

Moire Effect Video

Cameron Mayer

Infinity Cube Prototype/ Possible Final

Charlie DeLorey

The next iteration for my project is to create an infinity cube, a 3 dimmensional mirror that can be seen go on forever from multiple angles. I have laser cut pieces that are constructed into a cube, and I am now adding LED strips onto the inside of the pieces. A snag that I have hit is that it is not possible to use one full LED strip that will cover the entirety of the wooden supports. Therefore, Oliver and I have decided to add wires that will extend underneath the LED strips, so that the three wooden supports that cannot be easily reached will be connected into the entire long strip. Also, the LED strip was not able to go around the weird angles that the triangle corners create, so I soldered small pieces of wire at the correct angles to have them fit together perfectly.


Christina Madden

Our original ideas were inspired by some illusions that make one participant believe that the other participant is them.  We came up with our own version of an illusion similar to this.  We were most interested in the design of our illusion and how it was going to work.  We first created a box with a wall in the middle separating the two participants hands.  Then, we cut out mirrors to go in the corners of the box.  The main part of our illusion was the LED strips in the center of both sides of the box.

This illusion requires two participants; one person will put their hand in the left side of the box and the other will put their hand in the right side of the box.  Each person hovers over the LED strips with their hand.  Both participants will look in the mirror right in front of their hand and look at the other person’s hand.  When the LED lights up, you both touch the light and when it disappears you remove your finger from the LED strip.  This illusion works because both of the participants are doing the same movements.  


Julia Zinsmeyer

For this studio we learned about illusions and how the brain perceives certain images and patterns. We also learned how certain things can manipulate our senses, like taste, touch, and sight. In this studio we made a perspective tunnel. The inspiration for this tunnel came from a series of images we saw of rooms or spaces that looked real, but were actually a bunch of optical illusions tricking the eye.

The first step we took in making the perspective tunnel was to figure out what illusion that we wanted to portray. It was a bit of a process trying to  figure out because our options were unlimited. Although, in the end we decided to make a tunnel that would give the illusion of being longer than actually was.

After we distinguished our idea we drew it on paper and figured out the dimensions. Then we made a mini version of the perspective tunnel in a computer software called Rhino. Rhino allowed us to cut out a smaller tunnel in paper. After our design was cut out with the laser cutter, we were able to assemble it. Once it was put together we realized the illusion was not working to its potential because we made the end of the tunnel flat. We also established that in order for our illusion to work we would also have to add other elements to  help enhance the continuousness of the tunnel.

Our version of the perspective tunnel, we made with a pointed cone like end. This end helped magnified the perspective tunnel. We also added rectangles on two sides of the tunnel. The placement and size of the rectangles was also important because they added another element that would help draw the eye towards the back. We also experimented with having the color progressively darken, but we decided not to because when we made the tunnel larger it took away from the illusion.

Once we figured out the size we wanted of the tunnel, we printed it out with the laser cutter in wood. When the perspective tunnel was made out of wood the material blocked out all light, unlike cardboard, which was what we were using before. The blockage of light gave us the inspiration to add LED lights going down all three the sides of the tunnel walls,  to strengthen the illusion.

After we hooked up the LED lights to the wooden version of the perspective tunnel, we used the 3D printer to print the perspective tunnel in red. We hooked the LED lights to the 3D printed version and we thought the illusion worked much better.  We then added a cardboard covering for the 3D tunnel. The white shell ended up reflecting the LED lights and creating a shadow, which also improved the tricks of the tunnel.


The first step in our