Pulling back the curtain on ILLUSION and the science of magic

Join us as we say the magic word and pull back the curtain to reveal a sneak peek of ILLUSION, our brand new brain-melting, mind-bending exhibition exploring the neuroscience of magic, opening on 12th July 2013.

Curated by psychologist and author Richard Wiseman, ILLUSION is a perception-shattering insight into the human mind, combining magic with psychology, optical illusions with scientific reasoning, and confusion with clarity. Exploring sensory deception, ILLUSION will investigate how perception underpins everything we see, feel, think and do.

ILLUSION offers a diverse range of artworks that deal with different types of illusions. Nye Parry's Significant Birds draws on auditory theory and the perception of sound, exploring how single sine waves can be picked out from recorded speech to sound like chipring birds. Birdcages fitted with speakers will be dotted through the gallery, playing these chirping sine waves. Our brains can't help but recognise that the 'chirps' are part of a whole and reconstruct the the speech from which the sine waves derived. Each chirp has a different location in the gallery, meaning it is impossible to locate the origin of the speech. We hear it in the space, but in reality, it is created in our heads – meaning its precise location will always elude us.
Artworks such as Matt Kenyon's SUPERMAJOR show us that it's not only our ears that we can't trust. A vintage oilcan sits leaking onto the gallery floor, but, upon closer inspection, the oil isn't flowing out of the can. Instead, it's slowly flowing, drop-by-drop, back into the can. Perceptual structures in our brains enable us to see the world around us as stable, even when the sensory information it's receiving is incomplete and rapidly varying – seeing is not always believing.

Matt Kenyon SUPERMAJOR Science Gallery
Photo by Matt Kenyon
Not only are there 20 other interactive artworks designed to twist your perception and leave you breathlessly wondering "How did they do that?", we have a series of events lined up that promise to do the same. 
At the members-only launch party at 6pm Thursday 11th May 2013, let our magicians read your mind, fool your senses, and watch live as they perform a jaw-dropping trick that defies the laws of physics. Find out how you can attend.

Learn about the science of magic
with neuroscientists and authors Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde as they discuss the new scientific discipline, neuromagic.

And, hear an incredible story from Russell Foster that goes back to the earliest life on the planet as you learn about the 24-hour circadian rhythm
 our body follows to keeps us in line with the day-night cycle.
In an exhibition where the line between reality and fiction is blurred, should you believe your eyes? Can you really trust your senses? Is anything as it seems?