The Joke’s On Us

Posted April 23, 2014, under Gee Whillickers!

We had a pretty good routine going on with these Lunch Meats. Crank one out every Wednesday of the month, with the fourth Wednesday serving as a round-up.It was working great, until we noticed that this April has five Wednesdays. You could say we felt a little foolish.

To salve our pride, we’re going to talk about the many ways that art fools all of us.

Here Come the Ten-Dollar Words

Art inherently depends on the human tendency to see or expect patterns or significances in random or meaningless data. This is called apophenia.

Drawings, paintings, optical illusions, certain types of sculpture all rely on a specifically visual sub-phenomenon of this: Pareidolia. This relates to seeing figures or faces in chance arrangements of objects, color, etc. The Man in the Moon is an example, or shapes in clouds.

Or religious figures burned into baked goods.

Essentially, humans tend to look for significance in random forms, and artists capitalize on this tendency. Some use tricks of perspective or light, fooling the viewers’ eyes into seeing things their way.


Beyond Mere Smoke and Mirrors

Some of these art forms have their own names, such as Anamorphosis. Like these:

Joseph Egan and Hunter Thomson

Since such artwork is memorable and striking, advertisers quite naturally get into the act. One way they do so is by sponsoring chalk artists.

reebok crossfit chalk

dunkin donuts chalk

LAfitness chalk

Clockwise from top: Reebok/Crossfit (image credit: Gary Prior/Reebok CrossFit via AP Images); LA Fitness; Dunkin Donuts, Buick (image credit)

There are also artists who play with light and shadow, carefully arranging anything from cereal boxes to fridge magnets — even garbage — into something much more.

Confronted with art’s beautiful trickery, it’s hard to feel bad about not noticing an extra Wednesday.


Rigney Graphics is a Pasadena graphic arts company that can help you create an impact with design and marketing solutions for print and web.