Paradoxical perception of surfaces in the Shepard tabletop illusion

Tyler, C. W. (2011). Paradoxical perception of surfaces in the Shepard tabletop illusion. I-PERCEPTION, 2(2), pp. 137-141. doi: 10.1068/i0422

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Abstract

The Shepard tabletop illusion, consisting of different perspective embeddings of two identical parallelograms as tabletops, affords a profound difference in their perceived surface shapes. My analysis reveals three further paradoxical aspects of this illusion, in addition to its susceptibility to the ‘inverse perspective illusion’ of the implied orthographic perspective of the table images. These novel aspects of the illusion are: a paradoxical slant of the tabletops, a paradoxical lack of perceived depth, and a paradoxical distortion of the length of the rear legs. The construction of the illusion resembles scenes found in ancient Chinese scroll paintings, and an analysis of the source of the third effect shows that the interpretation in terms of surfaces can account for the difference in treatment of the filled-in versus open forms in the Chinese painting from more than 1000 years ago.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Optometry & Visual Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/10695

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