Illusion of the Year winner will turn your mind into a pretzel

I can't trust my eyes anymore.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Frank Force's dual-axis illusion video will keep your brain busy.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

If you like questioning the nature of your reality, you will love the Best Illusion of the Year contest. This year's top prize went to a mind-bending visual fiesta called the "Dual Axis Illusion" created by game developer Frank Force. I could describe it, but the best approach is to just stare at it in wonder.

At first, you might feel you have a grasp of what's going on. The twisty, connected lines are rotating in one direction. Wait. Now they're moving in a different direction. Oh, snap. The video then gives you visual clues that will help you make some sense of the madness.

So which axis is that shape really rotating around? All of them, as far as I can tell. I'm OK with that ambiguity. That's what I'm here for.

"Change the color," the runner-up illusion in the 2019 contest, invites you to view a series of moving dots that change color and direction depending on your own visual willpower.

In third place is an entertaining exploration of rotating circles. A black dot in the center of the illusion does the same thing every time, but the movement of other black dots around it make the central dot appear to dance in all sorts of crazy ways. 

The Best Illusion of the Year contest is run by the nonprofit Neural Correlate Society, which promotes research into perception and cognition. It also promotes a joyful approach to messing with our minds. This year's winners show just how fun it is to embrace the weirdness of our own brains.

Yanny or Laurel this: Viral illusions freak out the internet

See all photos
Watch this: What color are these strawberries? Viral photo tricks your eyes