Zolitude Swamp’s magic eye 👁

By Ben Culpin


Perhaps you’ve already spotted the ZOLITUDE SWAMP posters, plastered up on pillars, posts, panels and parks around town? If you haven’t, this is what we’re talking about:


The image is accompanied by the caption:

“Cross your eyes to see.”

On initial thought, this may be a strange demand for a poster to make of you. Instead of passively staring at a poster, the creators, Attitude Apoteket, wants us to cross our eyes?

The reason behind this, is that the image is an Autostereogram, or Magic Eye picture - which hides a seemingly 3D scene inside a 2D image. We’ll take a look at how they work, and how the concept plays into the themes and ideas of ZOLITUDE SWAMP.


The sciencey bit:

Autostereograms are designed to create a visual illusion of a 3D scene or image by using a 2D image. How does this work?

For viewers to see autostereograms, you have to perceive the image in a different way than your brain is used to. For most of our eyesight, there is an automatic coordination between ‘accommodation’ (the eye focus) and ‘horizontal vergence’ (the angle of your eye).

The ‘3D’ illusion of these images works by altering our depth perception, through changing the perspective each eye has of a 3D scene, called binocular parallax.

By looking at a horizontally repeating pattern, but focusing the two eyes on a point behind the pattern, it is possible to trick the brain into matching one element of the pattern, as seen by the left eye, with another element, beside the first, as seen by the right eye.

The interesting bit:

So how can you view autostereogram’s like ZOLITUDE SWAMP’s?

If we return to the caption, now we can get idea of what might be going on:

“Cross your eyes to see.”

Crossing your eyes when studying the image will mean that your lines of sight cross before they reach the front of the image. This makes the muscles inside your eye contract and shorten.

The result? The autostereogram’s seemingly ‘3D’ image will reveal itself to you by popping out from the 2D background pattern on the poster.

It can take time to get it right though, so you may need to spend a while staring up at those ZOLITUDE SWAMP posters in a semi-dreamlike state.


Why autostereograms?

As Rosanna Stevens delved into in her article, ‘The Secret of Zolitude Swamp’, this exhibition is inspired by the psychic and the strange - taking the visitors through a dreamscape, which crosses the borders between waking and sleeping.

Presenting viewers with autostereograms which asks you to question perceptions of the world around oneself is in keeping with the dreamy, otherworldliness of ZOLITUDE SWAMP.

In the words of Katri: “There’s more to the world than there seems to be”, and with these posters, there is certainly more than initially meets the eye 👁


Do you know what hides behind the 2D patterns?

send us a note or DM @zolitudeswamp — we have a treat for you.

ZOLITUDE SWAMP runs from JUNE 6-June 30 — learn more here