It's not what you see, it's how you see. The Fleet Science Center's Illusion Gallery explores the connection between what you see and what you think you see.
Digital Illustration, Exhibit Design
Collaborated from concept to final production, digital illustrator
Fleet Science Center
Making the Old New
The Illusion Gallery desperately needed a reinvigoration, with pieces dating back several decades. Aside from fresh coats of paint and polishing, information was updated, and several graphic elements were modernized. I was tasked with updating several well-known optical illusions, creating technical drawings of the brain for information panels, and creating a template for the information panels throughout the exhibit.
Face or Vase: Rubin's vase was developed around 1915 by Edgar Rubin, a Danish psychologist.
Rabbit or Duck: The earliest known version is from a German humor magazine drawing in 1892.
Young Woman, Old Woman: This optical illusion was made famous in 1915 by William Ely Hill.
Now You See It...
To create a cohesive design, I was tasked with updating several well-known optical illusions that had been around for decades. No pressure.
The main entry panels were vital as they explained the various brain structures utilized while viewing optical illusions and how those areas worked. I needed to create a simplified yet accurate illustration that even those with limited knowledge of how the brain worked would understand.
The exhibit was divided into three sections based on the level of involvement in interpreting the illusion: edges and contrast illusions (low), intermediate vision and integrated features (medium), and top-down illusions (high). Each section was designated its own color, and the details throughout became more intricate as a nod to the increased brain activity.
Unexpectedly, the text panels proved to be the most challenging aspect. There were the compounding issues of wildly varied body copy sizes and presenting the information in multiple languages (English and Spanish) without favoring one language over the other.
Bringing It To Life
For the first time, we could create renderings of the exhibit before the actual creation. This was provided by a very talented individual on the exhibits team and immensely helped in designing the space.
The Good & The Bittersweet
This was such a great project to be a part of. From the in-house teams that helped design, develop, produce, and install to watching guests interact with the final product, it was well worth the effort.
Unfortunately, I couldn't enjoy the success of this exhibit quite like others I had been a part of as the pandemic hit right as we opened it to the public. However, during a recent visit, the exhibit was well-trafficked and showed all signs of the wear and tear that a popular exhibition proudly displays.