We know it’s hard to look away, but the Department of Awesome Optical Illusions warns you not to spend too long looking at these incredibly hypnotic and often outright dizzying images. They were all created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Professor of Psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. He first won acclaim in 2003 for his Rotating Snakes peripheral drift illusion.

"Studying visual perception, visual illusion, optical illusion, trompe l’oeil, and 3D, Kitaoka regularly creates incredible psychedelic patterns and illusion artworks, optical illusions that give the impression of images in motion."

You can check out many more of Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s mesmerizing optical illusions on his website. Some of them are actually preceded by warnings that looking at them may induce nausea. We weren’t kidding about the dizziness. 

[via Juxtapoz]

Norwegian street artist Anders Gjennestad, aka Strøk, (previously featured here) recently enhanced the exterior walls of an elementary school in Gaeta, Italy with his signature hand-cut, multi-layered stencils. This was his contribution to the 2014 Memorie Urbane Street Art Festival. In this setting Strøk’s gravity-defying figures look like students let out for recess who decided to walk up the walls in search of a place to play.

Photos by Anne Esser

[via My Modern Metropolis and StreetArtNews]

Fear not arachnophobes (or maybe do?), you aren’t really looking at a gargantuan tarantula, you’re visiting the Department of Astonishing Optical illusions and this is the spectacular work of UK-based concept body artist Emma Fay. She used water-based paints to transform contortionists Lowri Thomas and Beth Sykes into awesomely lifelike animals. It took five hours to transform Thomas into a giant arachnid.

"First I ask the contortionist to get into the initial pose and mark out where they will be. The contortionists can only hold the pose for a maximum of five-seconds so I have to work quickly to get it right. I then keep painting and repositioning the models until they look like the real animal."

Head over to the Daily Mail for video footage of these amazing transformations as well as a wonderfully freaky glimpse of the giant spider in motion.

Visit Emma Fay’s website to check out more of her amazing artwork.

[via Design Taxi and Dailymail.co.uk]

The Department of Awesome Anamorphic Artwork has been on fire lately with exciting new finds. Today we explore the work of a phenomenal Portuguese graffiti writer named Odeith. He’s been painting since 1996 and appears to have mastered the art of making his letters look like they’re popping off the walls and floating above the ground.

His visual trickery is at its best when used in corners or other narrow spaces. Then it’s all too easy to forget that you’re looking at flat surfaces. This is some serious skill and, as a result, these days Odeith doesn’t just paint on walls, he’s also received corporate commissions from companies all over the world such as Shell, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Estradas de Portugal and S. L. Benfica.

[via Scene360]

Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders transports us to the Indian Ocean. About 1200 miles from the southeastern coast of Africa is the island nation of Mauritius, and it’s there, at the southwestern tip of the island, that we’ll find a spectacular natural optical illusion:

When viewed from above, a runoff of sand and silt deposits creates the impression of an ‘underwater waterfall’. Satellite views (as seen in the two Google Maps screenshots above) are equally dramatic, as an underwater vortex seemingly appears off the coast of this tropical paradise.

With some optical illusions, the longer one looks at them, the more one can make sense of what’s actually there. But this stunning, false underwater waterfall looks completely real, no matter how long we stare at the photos.

Visit Twisted Sifter to learn more about this awesome natural spectacle.

Top photo via KULfoto.com, satellite photos by DigitalGlobe via Google Maps.

Fine art body painter Paul Roustan knocked the proverbial socks off the Department of Astonishing Optical illusions with this awesome black and white painting of a Pandora Sphinx moth that beautifully conceals a woman who’s been painted to completely blend in with the moth. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t spot her right away. We didn’t either.

It took the artist five hours to paint the background and an additional two hours to paint the model. He says, “On average it takes me three hours to paint the entire body. This one was a bit more meticulous lining things up, which is why it took so long for just a portion of the body.”

Click here to watch a brief video that provides an even better look at this amazing piece as well as its creation process.

Visit Paul Roustan’s website to check out more of his phenomenal body painting.

[via My Modern Metropolis]

We know they look tasty, but don’t try eating those Milano cookies, because they’re made of stone. They’re the work of Brooklyn-based sculptor Robin Antar, who creates awesome oversized hyperrealistic sculptures of everyday objects, often American staples. She views her creations as “virtual records of contemporary culture.”

"Antar starts with a similar color of stone or simply dyes it herself. Due to being blind in one eye, she keeps the model close at hand instead of using a photo. She then spends countless hours carving, chiseling, sanding, and mounting to create huge replicas of food and clothing. For some pieces, she adds other materials like string to add to the effect. The result is a plethora of realistic statues that make you look twice before you realize they’re made of stone (and huge!).”

Visit Robin Antar’s website to check out more of her amazing sculptures. If you’re in NYC, she has pieces on exhibit at The Waterfall Gallery & Mansion through August 31, 2014.

[via Mental_Floss]

Would you care for a platter of raw oysters? What if we told you that these oysters (as well as their shells, the ice, lemon wedges and even the platter itself) are made of… wait for it… delicious cake? Yum!

This deceptive dessert was created by cake artist Jennifer Noble at the Cheeky Monkey Cake Company located in D’Iberville, Mississippi. The only part of the dish that isn’t cake is the little plastic container of sauce at the center.

Visit the Cheeky Monkey Cake Company website or their Facebook page to check out more of their amazing edible artwork.

[via the Artisan Cake Company]

The Department of Awesome Anamorphic Artwork just learned about an interactive exhibition of playful 3D paintings created by the talented artists at the Brain Mash studio in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Click here for additional images from the show. And for even more awesome art you can follow the Brain Mash crew right here on Tumblr at brainmash-studio.

More 3D pug paintings please!

[via Neatorama]

If any of you are ophidiophobic the Department of Awesome Camouflage would like to offer reassurance that, no matter what your eyes or adrenal cortex are trying to tell you, the animals in these photo are NOT snakes. They’re a wily species of caterpillar that wards off predators by expanding and turning the end of its body, which bears the unmistakable markings of a snake’s head on the underside. If approached, they’ll even go so far as to strike like a real snake. These strikes are completely harmless, but they look so convincing that we’re pretty sure we’d flinch all the same.

This fascinating photo was taken by Daniel Janzen, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste in northwestern Costa Rica. He’s working there cataloguing caterpillars and says this specimen is a member of the genus Hemeroplanes

[via Telegraph.co.uk and Geekologie]