ILLUSION at Science Gallery Dublin

Creating the ILLUSION exhibition at Science Gallery Dublin.


Earlier this year I was offered a brilliant opportunity to collaborate with Science Gallery Dublin on their massive summer exhibition ILLUSION: ‘Nothing is as it seems‘, as both a co-curator and a researcher, alongside the amazing Prof. Richard Wiseman, who authored books like ‘Paranormality’, ‘Quirkology’, and recently, ‘Rip it up’. Here’s Richard speaking to Science Gallery about illusion:


This was a unique opportunity for me to revisit a subject which I failed miserably in school – Science! I had difficulty just spelling the word! In order to understand the 200 or so submissions we received from artists, psychologists and scientists around the world for ILLUSION, I had to study and immerse myself in the neuroscience of illusion, not just in terms of sleight of hand, but in the scientific sense as well so that I could appreciate the works put forth. After 3 months of hard work, we finally had an exhibition that we were truly proud of!

Featuring a host of installations that deceive the eyes of the visitor, ILLUSION shows that what we perceive is often radically different from the reality of what our eyes observe. The Invisible Eye will allow you to see an eyeball construct itself from thin air, and you can gaze into a mirror and morph into your inner animal at All the Universe is Full of the Lives of Perfect Creatures. Delicate Boundaries creates a space that allows the worlds inside our digital devices to move into the physical realm as bugs crawl off the screen and onto your body and Counter, using a trompe l’oeil effect, tries to convince us that a two dimensional object is actually three dimensions. More artworks and interactive demonstrations offer further insight into the human mind through an exploration of the motivations and mechanisms of sensory deception. Audio illusions conjure the sounds of another space with visitors being able to get a “virtual haircut”, as well as close up demonstrations of sleight of hand magic, and so-called “mind reading”. One of our most popular pieces, Supermajor, even allows you to witness what it might be like if we could both reverse and slow down time, and you can see a short video clip of this phenomenon here:


Since our opening on the July 11th, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a huge amount of media publicity as a result of my involvement with ILLUSION, and some of you may have heard me speaking to RTE’s ARENA, Futureproof, Newstalk, Mooney goes wild, and The Spin. I was quoted in the New York Times, made the front page of the Metro Herald, and was featured in a video for Silicon Republic which you can see here.





Our launch night was a huge success, with over 400 people in attendance, each one as mind-blown as the last, images from which can be seen on the Science Gallery Facebook Page. I also gave a quick performance on the night:




All in all, working alongside the incredible team at Science Gallery was a dream come true, and I learned an invaluable amount about the neuroscience and psychology of ILLUSION. The Exhibition runs from July 12th till September 29th, Tuesday till Sunday from Midday till 8pm, and the best part? It’s absolutely free! No catch! We also have a series of events (which I curated) running throughout the exhibition, which features talks by Neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde who wrote Sleights of Mind, a lecture with Keith Barry about the psychic industry, a kids show by Scientific Sue who combines magic with Science, and even a performance by one of my favorite magicians in the world! You can keep an eye on for more details about these lectures and demonstrations.