A new Beuchet chair illusion

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I have always been a huge fan of the Beuchet chair illusion. Created by psychologist Jean Beuchet in the 1960s, this wonderful illusion is used all over the world to make people appear to be tiny.

chairbeuchet

There is, however, one small problem from a practical perspective. The illusion involves building a large chair back and seat, and a carefully crafted chair base.  When I was working on items for the Quirkology exhibition I wondered whether it might be possible to create a much simpler, and more portable, version of the illusion.

After endless trial and error I realised that the same effect could be created with a small cut out of a chair and a piece of cloth!

Here is my chair in action and a reveal showing the size of the chair. It took a huge amount of time to create just the right shape of chair, but the illusion works well, can be made for just a few pounds, and is ultra-portable.

chairblog3

And here I am using the illusion whilst being interviewed about the exhibition on STV news…

STV

I have used it several times and if you want to re-create the piece for a project, feel free to get in touch!

16 comments on “A new Beuchet chair illusion

  1. James Bailey says:

    It also appears to solve the legs problem. In the Beuchet version shown, it is obvious that the legs don’t match up with the seat in the way they would on a normal chair – especially with the all-important opposite corner leg. Yours has obviously solved this in such an effective way that I can’t even tell how it is attached.

  2. John Gwinner says:

    I would love to try this at Burning Man … but would the uneven terrain on the Playa mess up the illusion? Most of the pictures show a flat floor.

    • Adam Rennick says:

      I really think you should try. I will be on the Playa too my friend, and will be bringing an illusion as well…maybe our paths cross.

    • John Gwinner says:

      Thanks! Per Ken though, I’d need a large tent/carport, which makes complete sense. Although I have one, our camp is pretty crowded and after having sat through the sun on my tent in the morning last year, my carport is going OVER my camping tent this year🙂

      Although … maybe an art piece in the deep Playa, with a board stuck in the ground, an “take picture here” arrow, the fake ‘chair’ and a spot on the ground with a tarp staked out to look like the chair top. Hmm …. might work. I’ll think about it. That would actually be sort of cool as people know it’s a trick, but their cameras would make it look real. Would be great for photos.

    • Adam says:

      yes that could work…though you don’t want your chair top tarp to blow away. Maybe have a sign at the “take picture from here” spot that also has a picture of what the intended outcome should look like… so that people know what adjustments they themselves can make.
      I’ll be doing something very similar in that I built an impossible box based on forces perspective. One in which people can stand inside of and with having a tripod set up at the proper angle, I can take the pictures for the people. Im hoping to get it out to the outer Playa at least one day, but might be easier for me to just leave it set up around Kidsville where we are camping. Easier to supervise things that way.

  3. Ken Morrison says:

    John Gwinner, terrain will not be as great an issue as the alignment of the sight lines. This effect can only be accomplished by severely limiting the height and angle from which it is viewed. If you can stabilize the “cloth seat” by placing it on a stable board platform the intervening differences in terrain will make only a small difference once the placement and point of viewing is established. The easiest way to do this in a Burning Man environment is to have a large tent with a fixed doorway which is wither gated or has a round viewing hole cut into it. Some steps outside to help shorter persons to see through it would be an added convenience. The greater the distance away (the longer / deeper the tent) the better the control. That is the less critical the exact placement of the viewer is likely to be. I hope that helps. – MagiKen Morrison

  4. Eddie says:

    They should make this an Olympic sport… smallest looking person on chair gets gold!

  5. Barry Goddard says:

    It is good to be spreading illusions rather than reality? Such effects could in the wrong hands be used to puzzle and confuse eye witnesses to (say) a bank robbery or some form of attack upon the public.

    The Police would be left confused and with no lines of enquiry as all the witnesses would unite to say the crime was committed by tiny midgets rather than normal life-sized people.

    This is especially the case as the equipment needed is said to be very cheap and easy to make. And has been displayed openly on television – which is ofttimes shown non-stop in prisons so most likely very many career criminals have now already seen this “new” effect.

    Before we introduced new ways of bamboozling people in public in the future it would be better first to have such things screened by a credible Ethics Committee who could advise on the risk of social mayhem committent with the device being reviewed by them.

    This is a simple precaution to ask of anyone in public life especially in these most troubled days.

  6. Eddie says:

    News just in. Police have apprehended a criminal committing a nasty crime while pretending to be very small by standing on a fake chair seat just lined up with a special chair frame… Police have asked members of the public to be extra vigilant.

    • Barry Goddard says:

      If this has now indeed happened then we must be extra vigilant in asking people such as this website to desist in spreading knowledge of this technique of public deception.

      It would also be good Edie too if you were to take it upon yourself as a publicly spirited member of the wider public to contact the police involved and brief them upon the deception that they may have unwittingly been a part of.

      For it remains ever important even in these days of professional forensic policing that the humble innocent bystander civilian is also assisted too in any endeavours they may have that helps to fight crime whereever and by whomsoever it is perpetrated.

      I am not of course averring vigilante style actions – I simply ask that we all carry out actions of vigilance – and once we have completed those actions we pass on whatever our mindfulness has ascertained to be the case to the police. And thus we will all benefit from bringing into being a safer and less crime ridden society for the sake of us all.

    • Eddie says:

      I am, as I type, hot-footing it to the local rozzer station to make a statement. Thanks Barry.

    • Gabby Bollard says:

      Experience the long arm of the law … or should that be chair-leg

  7. Eric says:

    Hi,

    Nicely done! How do I recreate this piece?
    Do you have the dimensions, angles and layout available?

    Thanks

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