The limits of our own senses are revealed in these diabolical illusions at OMSI

DAVID F. ASHTON - Ian Brunswick, the head of programming at Science Gallery Dublin, explains a Motion Aftereffect Illusion at the opening of ILLUSION: Nothing Is As It Seems at OMSI. (He helped create it.) It's not just run-of-the-mill optical illusions. The new exhibition that opened at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) on November 18, called "ILLUSION: Nothing Is As It Seems", provides a mind-blowing maze of sensory experiences.

"This is one of the exhibitions of which I was the head researcher, when it was created at Science Gallery Dublin in Ireland, in 2013," remarked Conor Courtney, as he adjusted "Columba" – the illusion of a young girl, created through the manipulation of light and optics in OMSI's Featured Exhibit Hall.

"What I hope people take away from this show is a kind of a sense of how the world around us has so many illusory components," Courtney explained. "Because we're looking at the cognizant gestalt of how we understand the world around us, and process information continually, our brain likes to take 'shortcuts' – grouping like things together as a category.

"By exploring this show, my hope is that people get a feel for the fact that, while you can know that an illusion is a trick, it is still absolutely true for your brain – because that is how your brain works!"

His favorite display is entitled "Delicate Boundaries" – which creates a space where the animated bugs in a digital display seemingly crawl off the screen, and onto the visitors' bodies.

"This piece probes the modern relationship between virtual forms, and physical forms. Although it's a really neat graphic projector trick, it gets people to consider that digital life-forms now have a place in our society and in our reality, and are just as real as anything else we may come across in our physical world," Courtney said.

And, those are only two of the more than forty fascinating exhibits at this unique show..

"This exhibit helps fulfill the mission of OMSI, because we're all about inspiring curiosity, and asking questions," smiled OMSI President Nancy Stueber at the exhibit's opening. "There is so much creativity here! I hope it sparks the creative imagination of all of us. Even more, perhaps, for our future scientists, artists, and perhaps even illusionists."

Should you always believe what you see? Can you trust your senses? Is anything really as it seems? Find out – at "ILLUSION: Nothing Is As It Seems", open now through February 19. And more good news: It's included, with OMSI's general admission fee.

The museum is on the east bank of the Willamette River on S.E. Water Street, under the east end of the Marquam Bridge. For information, go online –

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