Tilting figure

a tilting picture or a tilting figure is an illustration, those to spontaneous shape - and/or. Perception changes to lead can. An explanation of this phenomenon is on the side multistable perception.

Ein Wandbild in Lima (Peru), das sowohl ein Nilpferd als auch einen Totenkopf darstellt
A mural into Lima (Peru), both the Nilpferd and a Totenkopf represents

synonyms of terms:

  • Inversion figure
  • written undertaking ion figure
  • envelope figure

with tilting figures related phenomena are so-called. Vexierbilder.

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the Necker cube

Rechts oben / links unten
on the top right/on the left of down

the design represents apparently the lattice model of a cube. The two large, overlapping squares can be thereby both front and back in each case. Thus one recognizes one depending upon focusing on the left of cube down beginning, on which one draufsieht from on the top right, or a cube on the top right present, which one regards from left down.

The name goes back on that Swiss geologist Luis Albert Necker, who described the effect of the bistabile perception 1832 first at crystal designs.

Beide Personen laufen über die Schröder-Treppe
Both persons run over the Schröder - stairs

the Schröder stairs

the Schröder stairs show likewise two perspective orientations. In the left field the girl the stairs runs down, the ball afterwards. The man seems to float in the area. A turn of the picture around 180°, right field, inverts the stair perspective and lets it now the stairs climb.


Hügel oder Krater?
hill or Krater?

Many viewers recognize a hill in the left field, on the right of a Krater. It concerns the same picture nevertheless, only around 180° turned. The interpretation is based on the experience that objects are often lit up from above. A bright edge above suggests a hill, a dunker edge down a shade, caused by a sloping hill. In the second field it turned around exactly.

Graphic user surfaces use this effect during the screen representation of switching surfaces. A bright upper and dark lower border line lets a out-standing button assume, reverse brightness conditions a imprinted.

further examples

vase or faces?
Young or old woman?
  • Cup profile sample: two black, looking at faces/a cup (in each case in the profile)
  • young woman, whose face of the viewer away-looks/an old Mrs. (witch) in the fur

equivalent in the music

application in the literature

Robert Gernhardt published 1986 telling volume with the title tilting figure, with which the envelope illustration offers a double ambiguity: Before the background of a cube landscape (=perspektivische tilting figures) a figure, the “one sits tilts” (drinks).
After the analysis by Shlomith Rimmon can be regarded some narrations of Henry James as literary tilting figures, since they exhibit verbal and narrative Ambiguität.


Arnold, Eysenck and Meili: To encyclopedia of the psychology

see also

Web left


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