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A Selection Of Optic Effects Involving Hearts
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A Selection Of Optic Effects Involving Hearts For Valentine’s Day
 
As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I take the opportunity to talk about the universal symbol of love and present some of my Op art creations involving hearts’ representations.
 
The classical figure of the heart is one of the most ubiquitous symbols on the planet, appearing everywhere from cards, to candy, to jewelry, to tattoos... It is used to express the idea of the “heart” in its symbolic or metaphorical sense as the center of emotions, including affection and love. The convention of showing the heart with its point downward and a dent in its base, first arises in the early 14th century. However, some researchers speculate that this symbol could trace back to Roman era and may represent the seedpod of the ‘silphium’ plant (aka ‘laser’ plant) - a natural contraceptive, thus tying the symbol with sexuality and love.
 
The symbol of the heart can be used to create some interesting eye-catching visual effects. The ‘kinoptic’ designs shown below are optical illusions in which a static image appears to be moving due to the cognitive effects of interacting color contrasts and shape position.
 
1st Image (Neon Heart): Simultaneous color assimilation.
Do you see an orange neon heart in this picture, with a halo around it? The apparent dark orange glow of the contour is created by the interaction of the black lines with the background – which is actually a uniform yellow throughout. Moreover, if you really concentrate on the middle of the picture, you might even get the heart to completely disappear!
2nd Image (Pulsating Heart): Troxler’s fading effect.
As you can notice, blur induces a strong self-moving effect. When you combine a blurred object with a repeating geometric background, you will always end up with a striking kinetic effect! This optic effect by its nature is quite opposite from the other illusion called Troxler’s fading or vanishing effect, but it works in the same way. The solid central “black heart” is not expanding at all, as it is rather the outer blurred surrounding that is slowly shrinking (in fact, disappearing) due to unvarying visual stimulus, giving the impression the solid black heart expands and pulsates.
3rd Image (Unstable Heart): Peripheral drift illusion.
This is just a kinetic optical illusion. The image is still but the contrasting lines give a slight feeling of motion. The heart also seems to pulsate in rhythm with the observer’s breathing.
4th Image (E-motion): Peripheral drift illusion.
As you sweep your gaze around the picture, the small red hearts appear to move diagonally in two opposite directions, while the large blue heart seem to pulsate slightly. The shaded tones and the contrasting black and white edges of the small hearts induce a shifting in the retinal image when your eyes move, activating motion-sensitive neurons in your brain. This activation is incorrectly translated as a real motion.
5th Image (“Gothic Heart”): Troxler’s fading effect.
The dark heart seems to flutter, pulsate and/or expand. Moreover, if you stare for a while at it and close your eyes you will see a white heart appearing in your head!