“Silhouette Zoetrope” by Christine Veras (Screenshot: YouTube)

If your response to the question “Do you like magic?” is a halfhearted, “Um, I guess,” perhaps you deserve to have your mind blown just a little bit today. And the winners of the 2016 Best Illusion Of The Year Contest are here to remind you that seeing something amazing doesn’t have to involve fancy pyrotechnics or dressing like a douchebag. No, it can be as simple as an optical illusion, and the ones on display here are all the more impressive for how simple they are. Some are innovative variations on familiar tricks, such as the illusion of movement in first-place winners Mathew T. Harrison and Gideon P. Caplovitz’s “Motion Integration Unleashed: New Tricks For An Old Dog”:

Others are so unusual they seem like they must involve some sort of sleight of hand. For example, second-place winner Kokichi Sugihara’s “Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion,” which makes some jaw-dropping shape changes based on oddly constructed cylinders:

And then some are just oddly beautiful. There’s nothing terribly revolutionary about it, but the “Silhouette Zoetrope” by Christine Veras, which took third place, is an elegant and minimalist illusion that we wouldn’t mind having in our living room:

You can see the other top-10 finalists at the Illusion Of The Year website. Contestants from around the world submit original illusions, and a panel of judges evaluates and winnows them down to these few outstanding examples. Presumably next year at this time, we’ll be seeing an award for Best Illusory Romance going to Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift.


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