(Image: Gianni Sarcone, Courtney Smith & Marie-Jo Waeber)
At first, it looks like a pensive face in a Venetian mask (see photo above). But take a closer look at its features and you’ll see that it conceals a couple kissing. Aptly named Mask of Love, the illusion was created by Gianni Sarcone, Courtney Smith and Marie-Jo Waeber from Archimedes’ Laboratory in Genoa, Italy, after discovering the blurry photograph.
But why are we more likely to see one face rather than the kissing duo? According to Sarcone, our visual system tends to group objects by how we expect to see them. The contours of the mask’s ornate headdress together with the background make most observers overlook the kiss. Once you detect the two faces however, your brain will typically alternate between both versions of the mask. Ambiguous figures cause fluctuations in visual awareness because they offer alternative and contradictory interpretations.