Optical Star Trek Effects

Trying to teach perspective leaves me feeling trapped in an Escher drawing. I climb the stairs. I climb the walls. My students sit on chairs on the ceiling.
How do we create the illusion of space on a flat piece of paper? It's difficult to verbalize the concept at a level for elementary school students. I'm just hoping to increase their visual awareness, and my own in the effort.

This puzzle comes to mind partly because of recent visits to the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. These gorgeous buildings with marble staircases and numerous tiers, boxes, and lofts give me the Escheritis feeling, too. The higher my heels, the more times I feel like I've gone up/over/round/round without a sense of direction. I've been lost in a couple poorly marked parking garages lately, too. Ack! Escher in a car! I sympathize with scuba divers who panic and lose track of the direction to the surface. I should mention here that I'm also hopeless looking in the mirror to use a curling iron.

Dallas Opera's most recent production, Handel's "Rodelinda," brought together incredible voices and excellent costumes, with a minimalist set. It sought to create the illusion of several different locations through silhouettes, rectangular frames of decreasing size to suggest depth, and a gosh diggity lot of sliding doors reminiscent of the original Star Trek bridge on the Enterprise. Zshooz-voop. Open. Enter. Close. Voozsh-zoop.

It was warm in the balcony, and, despite the incredible music, kind of drowsy. I admit I was sort of squinting down at the stage. I wondered when the set would become the classic optical illusion:

The next scene was Bertarido and Unulfo in the underground prison cell, suggested by two lattice grids. My brain was distracted by illusionary gray spots from another classic optical trick:

To look for more optical illusions(scroll way down to the bottom of the webpage), journey to your library's Dewey Decimals 152.148. My old buddy Escher and I are going to share a goblet and have some face-to-face time. I'll think about perspective tomorrow in the other illusion of time!

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