What do you see in the mirror?

A cream and green coloured exhibit table and vertical information panel with the wording 'What do you see in the mirror?'. On the table are a chrome vertical short pole, a half circle and a black small inverted cone.

Anamorphic images reflect light onto shaped mirrors, so the anamorphic images can be seen.

How it works

Place some puzzle pieces around a column-shaped or cone-shaped mirror. The puzzle pieces seem to look smeared or warped, but when you put the pieces in place and look at the mirror, you’ll see something more recognisable.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

Could this mirror and puzzle piece effect be used to communicate secret messages?

Background

This effect uses anamorphic images, which rely on angles of reflection within a mirror to generate a recognisable image. Anamorphic images were first used in artworks several hundred years ago and were adapted to communicate political messages that could only be viewed if you had the correct mirror.

Finding the science in your world

Today, anamorphic-like images are painted onto football fields, so when it is viewed from the television camera angle, the writing almost appears to stand upright. Similarly, footpath chalk paintings sometimes use anamorphic techniques to create the illusion of a crevasse or a swimming pool in the middle of a footpath.