More than meets the eyes

Yen is a PR professional at Science Centre Singapore.

My own favourite corner of the entire Science Centre Singapore is definitely the Mind’s Eye. Because to me, the eyes don’t see everything. Even if they do, our mind may not interpret everything correctly. And then again, the world is how we made it out to be so one scene/image can be perceived differently by different individuals.

The Minds’ Eye exhibition is located near the entrance to Science Centre, right after the turnstiles. Perhaps it’s for the best since this might be where you need real ‘eye power’.  Here, the exhibits can be broadly categorised into: (click on the images to view larger versions)

1Impossible objects
Objects or scenes which do not exist or is geometrically impossible. This can be done with shading, which can cause something to appear farther away, or the careful use of lines, which can give depth or dimension to an object. Such as the famous still life painting below (top, left photo) by Jos De Mey, who incorporated an impossible cube – can you spot the cube?

Ambiguous illusions
Ambiguous images are optical illusions that exploit graphical similarities and other properties of visual system interpretation between two or more distinct image forms. Such as the exhibit on the right – do you see the pillars or the men, or both?


Anomalous Motion
Some paintings enable viewers to see motion within them!  This perceived motion is a complex illusion that depends on colour, contrast, and peripheral vision, which is what you see from the ‘corners’ of your eyes. One example is the exhibit on your left.
4Distortion arts/ Anamorphosis
Anamorphosis is a distorted projection or perspective requiring the viewer to use special devices or occupy a specific vantage point to reconstitute the image. You can see this big exhibit near the entrance of Science Centre (see right image). This is a painting of a mysterious island with a cylindrical mirror placed where a circular sun was painted. Through the cylindrical mirror one can see the image of France author, Jules Verne.


Left is an image of another interesting painting I found. Typically one will see both a pile of books and a librarian’s face. However, according to the exhibit explanation, stroke patients who lost their ability to recognise faces can only perceive the books in this painting, but not the face of the librarian!

Just like the topic it covers, The Mind’s Eyes exhibition has more going on there than meets the eye. The estimated time required to complete this gallery is stated as 15 – 30mins but I think the curious few should prepare to spend one whole morning/afternoon here. Because this exhibition is not restricted to the entrance area only – the two stairways near the Atrium of Science Centre are actually filled with more paintings and images on all these optical illusions! Thus you can climb both staircases to third floor and challenge yourself on what you see and how these illusions come about. Think also, of the history behind these and the future importance of what you can, or cannot, see. Be prepared to be enlightened, or even be inspired, from this mind-boggling exhibition.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Danny says:

    Interesting article and subject!

  2. Kiat Teng says:

    Yeah, nice blog about the Mind’s Eye. It is one of my favourites too! 🙂

  3. Yen says:

    Glad you like it. *wink*

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