Deconstructing the Café Wall Illusion
The optical illusion fascinated Gregory because its peculiar placement of the brick and mortar caught his attention. Each brick was surrounded by a section of mortar, transitional between the light and dark colors of the bricks. When the bricks are equalized by half a width, the horizontal bricks look as if they are slanting diagonally. Fortunately, for him, his first attempt at breaking apart the illusion proved quite successful.
In his analysis, he said that the illusionary effect was created due to the position of the bricks, thickness, and the color of the grout lines between them. If someone was to erase the grout lines, the illusion of the diagonal lines will no longer appear.
He further explained the reason why humans perceived the parallel lines as diagonal, stating the reason as being the way the neurons interact in the brain. The neurons are tricked into thinking the lines are sloping due to the dark and light colors of the grout lines, which the neurons perceive as either dimmed or brightened. Others followed suit and began to analyze the illusion to come up with their own answers. Their observations gave rise to numerous laws.
Here are some of the laws that came about after this illusion was re-discovered:
- The distortion occurs in the same direction, unless the alternate rows of bricks are moved across, resulting in seeing the distortion in reverse viewpoint.
- The distortion’s direction remains unchanged when you shift every other row.
- The distortion’s direction remains unchanged for a massive shift of interchangeable rows.
- The distortion depends on the color and contrast of the tiles, which increases when the contrast between the two colors is increased.
- The distortion occurs when a wide selection of angles is put on display as a whole.
The border-locking theory applies to the mediums television and printing. The theory states that it’s difficult to obtain the exact spatial registration at the borders where colors and light should contrast and come together without overlaps and gaps. For this reason, people state that the Café Wall Illusion’s numerous laws are describing the border-locking theory.
The Café Wall Illusion is intriguing and complicated to understand, but when you view it, a sense of blurriness ensues, as your brain will try to interpret the diagonal lines when in fact, they are parallel to each other.