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Woman On Street Attacked By Giant Snail, It Seems

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
July 10, 2012

Here’s what got Nagai Hideyuki excited. Hideyuki lives inTokyo. He’s now 21. This photo was taken on the other side of the world, somewhere inEurope. What you see here is a street and a plain, stone bench, both partially covered by a chalk drawing. The drawing disappears in places and at one point seems to bump into a metal pole.

The chalker, in this case, is a street artist, Julian Beever, who makes them on sidewalks all over the world. What he does is a form of anamporphosis, which is a very careful exercise in distorted perception. His drawings make no sense until you happen onto a particular — and it’s a very particular — place relative to the drawing. Once you hit the right spot, you are at the intended angle of perception and boom! The drawing leaps into three dimensions, and you see, well, this:

It’s uncanny. But it’s all in the planning. Beever has a camera or a viewfinder posted at the very spot he wants his viewers to occupy, and he draws from that perspective specifically. So here inGlasgow,Scotland, is a Marilyn Monroe-type bathing in what looks like a 3-D pool of real water.

Notice the very real looking Coca-Cola bottle and can in the corner (you’re supposed to notice, because Coke probably paid for this drawing) and ask yourself, are those real?

They’re not. Viewed from the “wrong” perspective, Marilyn’s leg becomes a long, dangling tentacle and the soda pop goes, you should excuse the expression, flat.

Beever can achieve dramatic, spectacular effects, with this technique. Here’s a street ad he did on 44th Street inNew York for Levi’s. The little girl is real.

Three years ago, when Nagai Hideyuki saw some of Beever’s images in a Japanese paper, he thought, “I’ve got to do that!” but he’s not a street artist/outlaw type. “I realized it would be against the law,” he writes on his website. And so, while he knows how, he’s taken Beever’s work indoors, to the quiet of his desk, where he creates 3-D effects using two note pads and a bunch of pencils. That way, he doesn’t have to deal with strangers, with cops or with weather. But the effect, if anything, is even more startling.

This man thrusting his hand at us is, in actuality, a combination of two perfectly flat drawings (I kid you not), with a real eraser dropped onto his palm.

It’s done the same way Beever (and few other commercial artists like Kurt Wenner) do it; by drawing a precisely distorted image that the human brain, viewing from a precise angle, will see as a three-dimensional illusion. I imagine this is a trial and error procedure, but the result is so flawless, it’s hard to believe this image is constructed from two flat planes.

But it is. Nideyuki is shy about how he does it, but in one of his videos, he shows us a 3-D drawing of a factory, glimpsed through a surface that has been ripped apart by two hands, to let part of the building slide through, so the building seems to poke in our direction. As usual, the two pictures look like they are occupying real space…

But then, at 27 seconds into the video, he separates the two pads, and for just a second or two, you can almost see the illusion.

I love looking at things knowing they aren’t there, but seeing them anyway.

People used to take drugs to do this, but as Nagai Hideyuki would no doubt tell you, “That’s against the law.” Here you can do the same thing, with no risk whatever of landing in jail. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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