Jerry Andrus: Master of Illusion

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andrus1box1Over the break I finally got around to watching ‘Andrus: The Man, The Mind and the Magic’ – a DVD documentary about the renowned master of illusion, Jerry Andrus. Try his amazing Tri-Zonal Space Warper for yourself, and find out more.

If you haven’t seen Jerry’s Tri-Zonal Space Warper before, play the following video at full screen (and try looking at the back of your hand as well as the moon at the end of the clip).

The illusion works because of a fundamental feature of human vision.  Your brain contains cells that only respond when you encounter movement.  Constantly bombard these cells with movement in a certain direction, as Andrus did with his ‘Tri-zonal Space Warper’, and they soon start to tire.  When the rotating spiral is stopped, the cells attempt to return to their resting state, but overshoot their central position, giving rise to the illusory perception of movement in the opposite direction.  A simple version of this effect was first described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle when he stared at a waterfall and then turned his attention to the foliage at its side, only to see the greenery apparently moving upwards.  The effect has been known about for thousands of years, but it took the genius of Andrus to transform this perceptual curiosity into something that makes people shriek in delight and terror.  A version of the illusion is now in almost every science center in the world.

andcoverJerry Andrus died aged 89 from prostate cancer in 2007, but lived a remarkable life. Unable to throw anything out, his ‘Castle of Chaos’ was jammed floor to ceiling with tools, props, and inventions, resulting in guests having to walk single file along narrow gangways surrounded by mountains of debris. Described as ‘a cross between Albert Einstein and Walt Disney’ and ‘the Thomas Edison of magic’, Jerry invented some of the world’s greatest optical illusions and pioneered a unique form of magic.

‘Andrus: The Man, The Mind and the Magic’, is a documentary film by Robert Neary and Tyson Smith. A mix of great archive footage, incredible illusions, and interviews with Jerry’s friends (including James Randi, Ray Hyman, Jamy Ian Swiss and Michael Shermer), it is a wonderful 78 minutes of viewing. Over the years I was fortunate enough to spend time with Jerry at several conferences and meetings, and the film does a wonderful job of capturing both the spirit and genius of this unique individual. I loved it.

I suspect that it isn’t going to make its makers much money. Instead, a group of people got together and created something important just for the love of it. They deserve our support and so, if you like illusions, magic, or science, take a look at the DVD.

Here is the trailer.

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7 comments on “Jerry Andrus: Master of Illusion

  1. Chris Taylor says:

    Me again, from Turkey, with not access to You tube . After a search I found the video from this site: http://www.jerryandrus.org/. ( I didn’t go to meta cafe!!)

    I enjoyed your blog and its just a shame that I can’t easily access the videos you put on your blog – actually I don’t even get the link.

    I wonder if you can put an alternative source for us quirky folk in this quirky country.

    Best wishes

  2. Excellent information on this site, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn.

  3. Greg Crueger says:

    I didn’t know Jerry had died until now (2009). About 20 years ago I was in Oregon and looked him up based on an old Omni magazine article from the 70’s that included a phone number to order Tri-Zonal Space Warpers. I wanted more Warpers to give to people (it’s an AMAZING illusion) so I tracked him down. He was kind enough to spend an afternoon entertaining my brother, myself, and a friend of ours in his Castle Of Chaos. It’s impossible to describe his mind or his house…both were absolutely crammed to the max with anything and everything. He did all his magic tricks for us and showed us all his props. It was like our own private show. I think we bought him lunch and I bought a few more Space Warpers, but he gave us a priceless memory. Mr. Andrus was undoubtedly the most unique person I have ever met, and I will always remember the day he gave three strangers a glimpse into his life and world.

  4. Al Seckel says:

    Dear fans of all things magic and illusion

    Looking for a GREAT GREAT Holiday present? This is Al Seckel’s latest illusion book (with contributions from Barry Brilliant and magician Mark Setteducati). This is a wonderful ebook, which is filled with very very cool three dimensional original optical illusions, close-up magic, and comedy from the legendary magician Jerry Andrus, much of it professionally filmed at the height of his career. The material in here is not available anywhere else. It will blow you away, the content is that good! PLEASE post this or retweet it, so that it becomes generally known. Also, please post reviews on the itunes site. It is an incredible value for $2.99, and you will see some of the best and legendary close up magic routines and paradoxical optical illusions anywhere.

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/eye-wonder-amazing-paradoxical/id586042143?mt=11

    Eye Wonder: The Amazing Paradoxical and Magical Illusionary Worlds of Jerry Andrus

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  6. I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

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