A TikTok user sent viewers into a spiral as she brought Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting to life with the help of an optical illusion.
One of Kate’s most recent posts saw the TikTok user tell her followers that she was going to show them a ‘famous painting, but in a way you’ve never seen it before’.
Check out the video below:
@kbaconWhen art comes to life… ##science101 ##learnontiktok ##opticalillision ##stem♬ clair de lune ethereal remix – Trey Phills
The painting in question was the well-known Van Gogh piece Starry Night, which – on the off-chance you’ve somehow never seen it – features swirls and circles of blue and yellow that depict the dark night sky.
Before presenting the image, Kate showed viewers a swirly black and white scene that moved in circles and encouraged viewers to focus on the centre of the image.
She explained, ‘Right now, there are cells in your brain’s visual cortex that are interpreting the direction of motion that you see. The longer you stare, the more those cells will become habituated to the movement. This is described as the Motion Aftereffect.’
After everyone’s eyes are well and truly ‘adapted to the motion going in one direction’, Kate described how switching to look at a stationary image would make it appear as if the image was moving.
Using Starry Night as an example, Kate displayed the painting on screen and allowed viewers to take in the scene, which appeared to be moving in a similar swirling motion to the previous illusion, only in the opposite direction.
The prospect of seeing a famous painting like never before intrigued TikTok users, and as a result the video has racked up more than one million views in just two days. Viewers were left baffled at the trick, with some having to watch the video multiple times to make sure Van Gogh’s painting hadn’t been edited to fool those watching.
One wrote, ‘Anyone try it twice to see if Starry Night was really a still photo,’ while another added, ‘That’s pretty cool. Never trust your eyes right?’
In a response to the comments, Kate added a note to say that Motion Aftereffect is ‘one of [her] favourite visual illusions’, adding, ‘It’s been researched for decades and the science behind it is complex but super cool!’
While Van Gogh might not have anticipated people seeing his art come to life on a TikTok video, he’d probably be glad to know that it continues to blow people’s minds, even if they’ve seen his work multiple times before.
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