Escher + Inception: Tour a Digital World that Defies Physics

surreal human interface cube

This video thrives on convention – specifically: breaking with it. In the same vein as M.C. Escher, The Matrix or, more recently, Inception (or even the building flips and slides in Transformers), this surreal experience calls into question everyday architectures that surround us.

Imagine a world where urban fabric was what the latter implies: a delicate, woven-together series of structures and infrastructure forever flipped and rearranged at the whim of … whom? Perhaps you, perhaps another consciousness, or perhaps something created by a blind watchmaker, as it were, rotating city blocks like rows on a Rubik’s Cube.

surreal cube water bridge

Be sure to view the above realistic animated video in full size for the complete effect. Our brain recognizes patterns, then expects those things within such patterns (like trains on rails, or a waterfall) to conform to known laws of physics and thermodynamics – strip away that certainty and you start to learn something about human cognition and our relationship to world.

surreal room glowing light

From the project creator, Chris Kelly, who created this as a graduate project: “Our understanding of space is not always a direct function of the sensory input but a perceptual undertaking in the brain where we are constantly making subconscious judgements that accept or reject possibilities supplied to us from our sensory receptors,” he says. “This process can lead to illusions or manipulations of space that the brain perceives to be reality.”

surreal bionic eye reality

The thesis that goes with these videos and images:  Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The Possibilities of Utilising Virtual[ly Impossible] Environments in Architecture. “The redirection techniques and the use of overlapping architecture allow the same physical space to hold a much larger virtual space”, giving it all kinds of applications in collaborative gaming and interactive art as well as architectural and urban design.

surrealist virtual reality cube

More on the project: “The aim of the rubix project was to develop an animation that described a conceptual tool for deploying these malleable virtual environments that could be used by their creators to shift space around us. The rubix concept stemmed from the need for an algorithmic formula for controlling the use of redirection techniques; it allows for many different spatial combinations whilst a level of control is constantly maintained. In the animation the initial Escher-esque space is a representation of our perceptual system where huge amounts of information arrive in the brain from multiple streams. The process of perception involves the brain selecting and rejecting contradicting pieces of information leading to a perception of reality that only gives us glimpses into the world we are in.”