Impossible Objects

The possible ranks higher than the actual — Martin Heidegger

The exercise

This project was simply an exercise in making impossible objects in vector.

As well as constructing the shapes, the main work was to use subtle gradients in a way that bends perspective, producing optical illusions. All of these shapes or objects are familiar examples of this effect, including the famous Penrose stairs, Penrose triangle and Blivet, or devil’s tuning fork.

These objects play on the way in which our mind-based visual system looks for three-dimensionality in two-dimensional forms. Cognitive dissonance is created by distortions in geometry.

Impossible Objects. Untitled.

Impossible Objects. Untitled.



In its own way, the impossible object speaks to a certain principle in design: the optimal interplay of the familiar with the dissonant. The familiar sets one at ease. It is integral to “clean” design. The dissonant is jarring, upturning the familiar and sending the mind into a journey through memory to find sense.

If these two can be combined, or combined in correct proportion, the effect is both comfort and memorability. In short, there is a psychology within objects, or a field we enter into when we view objects. Solid design is aware of this field, and looks to find combinations that create subtle variations in psychological responses.

Format: Vector graphics
Software: Affinity Designer

By the very nature of expecting, the possible is drawn into the real, arising from it and returning to it — Martin Heidegger


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25 November 2015
Ian Douglas

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