We’ve all seen optical illusions before. Many of them, like the Ames Room above, take advantage of the flattening effect of the still camera, which only captures images from a single perspective. But part of the fun is moving around to a different vantage point, which reveals how the eye is tricked.
Brusspup is an artist who has a YouTube channel that reveals optical illusions that he creates. These videos offer the best of both worlds because the viewer can see both the illusion and how the trick is achieved. Some examples are below.
How can these be used in the classroom? Optical illusions are almost universally engaging. Beginning with a still image of the illusion (or by pausing the video at that point,) students could be challenged to express how the illusion is created. The class could then watch the video to see the solution. This could be a fun and challenging way for students to formulate hypotheses and think critically.
Alternatively, students could be directed to the YouTube channel and asked to find their favorite illusion. They could then be assigned the task of describing the illusion (both the effect and how it was achieved) in a presentation or in writing. Depending on the level of the students, breaking down the task into step by step pieces would also be a good test of their English.
There are lots of other ways to use these videos. Whether they are incorporated into a classroom activity or just viewed as an informal warm-up activity, they are sure to get your students talking.
How did he do that? Is that the first question you asked when you looked at this picture? Look again. Notice all of the people in the picture (and in the picture in the picture) are the same person. Notice, too, that the person in the foreground is holding the picture being taken in the background. To really blow your mind, scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the picture taken by the photographer in the background. Click on either picture to link to larger versions for closer examination.
Impressed? I was. There are lots of examples of photoshopped dopplegangers on flickr, but few are this intricate. With most others, it’s easy to see how how multiple images could be merged into one because the different images don’t interact and sometimes don’t even overlap. When I look at these two pictures, I’m intrigued by how they were made. Which image was taken first? How many images were included? These questions got me to thinking: I bet ESL students would have the same questions. And it would be linguistically challenging to analyze these two photos (possibly by first priming them with something simpler) in the target language.
Next time you want to generate some discussion in your class, consider showing your students these images. (They’re licensed under the Creative Commons, which virtually eliminates any copyright concerns.) The discussion could lead to students planning their own doppleganger photos. Even if they don’t have the photo editing skills or resources to pull it off, planning out the scene and even taking some of the photos required to make their own composite image could be a very interesting exercise.