Mastering the optical illusion - spinning dancer

Optical illusions reveal interesting things about the nature of vision. The spinning dancer by Nobuyuki Kayahara is one of my favorite optical illusions. It relies upon incomplete visual movement and depth cues, forcing your brain to make a choice. Because the light does not illuminate the body in ways to suggest direction of the spin, you might see her spinning in one direction and then in the other. Which way do you see her spinning? If you stay with it for a bit, do you see her flip? Can you make her flip at will? Play with it a bit before going down below to discover a way to master it.

Using our capacity to understand a human body in movement through our embodied experience of it and through our mirror neurons, try the following:

  1. Tilt your head opposite the direction you see the dancer’s head. Wait a few moments. Did if flip? If not…

  2. Notice her head is slightly tilted back. Keep your head in the same position and tilt your head slight backward. Flip yet? If not…

  3. Keep your head position and add an extended arm, mimicking the direction opposite what you see.

Now play around until you can flip back and forth at will. Have fun, please share, and leave your comments below.