Impossible motion magnet-like slopes from Ben Fry on Vimeo.

To work with visuals and motion, you need to understand how visual perception functions, for the same reason that sound design is informed by understandings of how our hearing perceives space, frequency, timbre, and the like. So lately, I’ve been fascinated by this question in motion. I’ll share some examples shortly (once I’ve edited the footage) that I built in Processing for an exhibition in the spring. The results were particularly interesting to me, because the tendency of perception to transform our notions of space and pattern is so profound, it’s immediately apparent that the same forces are at work as we look at anything.

There’s an entire field devoted to research on the topic, called “vision sciences.” Annually, they select the best optical illusions, as noted by Ben Fry (data visualization guru and co-creator of Processing).

It’s worth checking out the whole selection – they aren’t all as flashy as this, but they will generate plenty of ideas. The star is clearly the winner, however, and if I described it, it’d give things away.

Koukichi Sugihara
Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences, Japan

There’s a whole body of visualist work or music videos waiting to happen here, clearly. It’s not really an optical illusion, but I can’t resist also pointing to creations like this next selection, if you want more in the “runs of marbles through constructed contraptions” oeuvre.

Perhaps, just as students of sound and music have immersed themselves in understanding of psychoacoustics and musical theory, visualists could use a deeper knowledge of visual perception. And we could play with marbles more, too; that couldn’t hurt.