Laboratory for New Media 17th Exhibition
“Visual Illusion Lab in the Land of Mathematics”

Laboratory for New Media Permanent Exhibition periodically updates contents of exhibitions to introduce the various possibilities of expression provided by information science and technology.

Welcome to the Land of Mathematics. This is where mathematicians use new theorems and theories they have discovered to explain various natural and social phenomenon, and attempt to put these to practical uses in the real world. The two researchers featured here are engaged in the research of illusions caused by vision, or in short, visual illusions, using the method of mathematical modeling.
Lines and shapes do not appear to look the same as the way they were actually drawn. Patterns that should not have been visible can be seen. How do they confront a world of such irrational and strange visual illusions?

Visual Illusion Art Works (Hitoshi Arai, Shinobu Arai)

Through the creation and application of advanced mathematics for study about visual perception, it has become possible to engage in the research of elucidating the mechanisms of visual illusion. It is also becoming possible to take the research one step further, controlling the visual illusion and changing images that one likes into a visual illusion image.

Character String Tilt Illusion Generating Device (Hitoshi Arai, Shinobu Arai)

Around the year 2005, finding character strings that looked as if they were tilted became a popular game on Internet forums and other websites in Japan. Arai and Arai named this “character string tilt illusion,” and conducted research into the phenomenon. They created mathematical models of visual information processing in the brain, explored how character string tilt illusion is processed in the brain, and developed software that can automatically generate character string tilt illusions.

Impossible three-dimensional objects that play opposite a mirror (Kokichi Sugihara)

This exhibition showcases “impossible three-dimensional objects” that create phenomenon that are beyond comprehension when they are reflected in a mirror. These objects can be classified into three categories: “ambiguous three-dimensional objects” that appear to undergo dramatic changes when reflected in a mirror, “see-through three-dimensional objects” that appear to partially disappear when reflected in a mirror, and “topology-disturbing three-dimensional objects” that present changes of the ways of connection when reflected in a mirror.

Repulsive Slopes (Kokichi Sugihara)

If we were to look at it with just one eye from a specific viewpoint, a visual illusion of an “impossible motion” would occur—although the center point appears to be the lowest, a ball placed on an incline would move against gravity and jump out of the stand. This is a visual illusion that arises because we think that the inclines intersect at right angles when we look at them from a point directly above them.

Term November 17 (Thu), 2016 - May 15 (Mon), 2017
  • Hitoshi Arai, Mathematician, Doctor of Science

    Professor, Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, the University of Tokyo
    Completed the Master’s course at the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University in 1984. In 1986, he became an assistant at the Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, and thereafter served as Visiting Fellow at the Mathematics Department of Princeton University and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Science, Tohoku University. In 1996, he became Professor at the Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University. He was appointed to his current position in 1999, to the present day.
    Main awards: Received the Spring Prize of the Mathematical Society of Japan in 1997, which is the top award in the field of mathematics in Japan. Received the Prize for Science and Technology (Research Category), Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2008.

  • Kokichi Sugihara, Doctor of Engineering

    Professor, Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences, Meiji University
    Kokichi Sugihara graduated from the Graduate School of Engineering of the University of Tokyo in 1973 and received Dr. Eng. in mathematical engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1980. He worked at Electrotechnical Laboratory of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan since 1973, Nagoya University since 1981, the University of Tokyo since 1986, and is a professor of Meiji University since 2009.
    He won the first prize of the Illusion of the Year Contest in 2010 and 2013, and the second prize in 2015 and 2016.