And the Winner Is…

The Best Illusion of the Year Contest held its awards ceremony on Monday and now we, the public, can view the finalists. They are all intriguing in their own way and the top three are absolutely brain-breaking.

The first place award went to Jordan Suchow & George Alvarez from Harvard, USA. Their stunning illusion is shown below.

I could gush about the merits of all of the illusions, but I will reign myself in. Instead, I want to talk a little about the value of recognizing this kind of work.

Optical illusions create a point of intersection between neurology, psychology and art. Uncovering and understanding the quirks of our cognitive processes is a complex and, if the studies I’ve been involved with are any indication, very dull field of study.

However, it is occasionally possible to crystallize the information into a form that the general public can digest: something small, something straight forward, something compelling. These artistic representations can, in a matter of seconds, enlighten viewers as to the nuances of their perceptions.

I love that there is a group focused on awarding those that go to the effort of exploring the world of illusion. They are simultaneously forwarding the cause of art and science. More than that, by gathering and publishing this work for the world, they are giving everyone the opportunity to gain a little more insight into their own brains.


Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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