Category Archives: Classic illusion books

The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions

I’ve copied this beautiful demo (with small changes) from one by Stuart Anstis, who is one of the world’s leading and most prolific researchers into illusions.  His website includes a page of great movies, including this one.  Whilst the yellow circles are visible, we tend to focus locally on the pairs of spheres, each pair orbiting a central point.  But without the circles, loosely fixate the central blob, and though the movement of the spheres remains just the same, they appear to re-group into a more global view, of two pulsating, intersecting circles of spheres.

I came across Stuart’s movie amongst the many web pages of figures and demonstrations that accompany a once-in-a-generation, landmark publication, the Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions.  It’s HUGE, with some 800 pages!  Almost all the leading researchers in the field worldwide have contributed, with essays on the history of visual illusions, up-to-the-minute, detailed discussions of a comprehensive range of illusions and effects, and philosophical essays on whether the word illusion is really the right term to describe them.  It seems to have hit the spot, because it was only published a couple of weeks back, but is already showing as sold out on OUP’s own website.  Copies are available elsewhere at the time of writing, for example via Amazon (previous link above).  Cheap it isn’t, but spectacular, it is.

 

Classic illusion books

 

Here’s another rotating head illusion, just to introduce a list of my favourite illusion books. It’s not one you’ll find in the books, because I only just drew it.  Still, that leaves plenty of old illusions, and there are stacks of fun books on the subject, many of them excellent. Here are some I think are real classics:

Richard GREGORY, Eye and Brain: the psychology of seeing (5th Ed.) OUP 1998

The standard introduction to vision and illusions, say, sixth form to first year college level, authoritative but great fun.

 

J.O.ROBINSON, The Psychology of Visual Illusion, New Ed., Dover Pubs, 1998

A bit more technical, but with a comprehensive selection of geometric illusions.

 

Jacques NINIO, The Science of Illusions, Cornell Uni Press 2001

Another fascinating general introductory text, by an eminent researcher

 

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