Give yourself a hand if you can make sense of this optical illusion

"I have decided to paint my ideas on my own body." South Korean artist Dain Yoon shares her dazzling makeup illusion art on Instagram.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

What's real in the below photo? Did the artist paint a hand around one of her eyes, or an eye on the back of her hand?

What we think we see isn't always what's really there, and vice-versa. Ask anyone who marveled at the wolf optical illusion, or squinted to try and see the shark in Blake Lively's Magic Eye challenge.

Such optical craziness is at the heart of the art of Dain Yoon, a 22-year-old senior at the Korean National University of Arts in Seoul. She uses her own hands and face to model dazzling makeup effects straight out of a carnival fun house.

The artist says she's always been interested in people and their multiple dimensions. "I have discovered that different people resonate different first impressions and they indeed change as I study them further," she said in an email. "Thus, I have decided to paint my ideas on my own body."

On her Design Dain Instagram account, she posts photos of herself painted in ways that make the viewer question reality.

In the image above, she paints an eye on her hand, then uses that hand to cover her eye in such a way that it's impossible to tell the real body part from the painting. She ups the illusion ante by providing a video in which her real eye, hidden underneath, seems to blur and melt.

"I overlapped my face and part of my body, so that they would (look like one body part)," she said. "At first, the audiences would simply give interested looks, rubbing their eyes to confirm that what they have just seen is just a face. It is the beauty of my art for the audiences to discover new perspectives on my painting as they adopt closer looks."

In another, inspired by Amnesty International's "My Body, My Rights" campaign, she decorates her face in such a way that it almost appears half of her face is kissing the other half.

And in an image in which she pours tea, the teapot is indeed real, but the teacup and tea are not. The artist painted an eerily realistic image of her own face on a glass teapot and painted hearts and a teacup on her face to blend reality and fantasy.

"I hope that audiences enjoy my works and maybe forget about their worries for a couple seconds," Yoon said. "I intended to convey that what is seen first may not necessarily be (all there is to) see."

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