Everyone likes a good optical illusion. Trying to figure out what”s going on is a good distraction for almost anyone (after all, that”s why those I Spy books are so popular with kids). Sometimes, you can make sense of them, and sometimes they get the best of you. Here were some of our favorites from the past year–or at least, that we discovered in the past year. Check them out and add a little weirdness to your world.
1. The gravity-defying graffiti
Street artist Odeith creates pieces that appear to hover in midair between two adjacent walls thanks to his skill with shading and perspective.
2. The floating tree
No trees were harmed in the making of this illusion. The creators, Daniel Siering and Mario Shu, simply painted a landscape on some foil wrapped around the tree.
3. The floating square
French artist Georges Rousse has been creating these perspective paintings for more than 30 years, using abandoned buildings as his canvases.
4. The glitch cabinet
This cabinet looks like it”s been distorted in Photoshop, but it”s actually been hand-carved, so it really looks like this.
5. The not-really-moving image
This image, which seems to swim in front of you, was created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a psychology professor from Japan who specializes in visual perception.
6. This non-parrot
Take another look at this parrot, say, around its eye or the tip of the tail. Notice anything unusual? It”s because this is not, in fact, a parrot, but an intricately painted human by body painter Johannes Stoetter.
7. The pair of glasses
Optical illusions don”t have to be flashy to be impressive. Take this pair of glasses by Carmen Harada. They”re actually a trompe l”oeil drawing in pencil, and completely 2D. (And yes, this was created in 2013, but we didn”t discover it until this year!)
8. The magical portal
More 3D art comes to us from Fredo, whose more fantasy-based pieces leap off the page.
9. The tiny window
3D art isn”t relegated to paper, but can also spring from the walls, as Spanish street artist Pejac taught us when he left his mark in Istanbul.
10. The floating building
This floating building is less an optical illusion and more a feat of engineering and cleverness by artist Alex Chinnick, who crafted the lightweight building from polystyrene and balanced it with a hidden counterweight.
11. The floating island
Similarities in color make the water blend in with the farther islands, and makes the nearer island appear to levitate like something straight out of a Magritte painting.
12. The old baby
Sometimes optical illusions are accidental, like this case of two people appearing to share a head.
13. The unexpected legs
…and this case of the surprising legs.
14. The lack of a lake
Sometimes a simple change in perspective can make all the difference with images like these.
15. The tattoo
Created by artist Pat O”Rourke, this tattoo seems to distort the bearer”s arm. It almost looks like you could put your hand through the arm itself!
16. The impaled people
No, of course they aren”t really impaled. They”re modeling pieces created by artist Aakash Nihalani, who created the geometric forms using tape. The result, though, is playful and funny.
17. The swimming pool
The “pool” you”re looking at is actually a 2D image, specifically a carpet-like painting that creates the illusion of a recessed space in the floor. It was created by artist Joeren Bisscheroux.
18. The liquid sphere
This looks like a sphere of molten metal, but it”s actually a very clever sculpture by Takeshi Murata. Melter 3-D is actually a spinning chrome sphere lit from different angles with strobe light that comes together to create the illusion of constant fluid motion.
Well, now that your mind is suitably bent, you”re ready to head off into 2015 with a fresh take on all things visual. Don”t trust your senses too much out there.