Astronaut’s Journey Into Another Kind Of Space

Neve VR60
Neve VR60

I remembered an optical illusion (which features in a chapter of my forthcoming book) which I would like to share with you. I discovered this when I was in my teens.

I woke up one day with my hand on the wall beside my bed and noticed I could put my hand underneath the pattern on the wall paper. It was kind of freaky but it consistently worked. I found out why years later from a fellow sound engineer.

How to do it with a mixing desk:

Notice a mixing desk has lots of identical channel strips, all laid out with the same detail, side by side, a couple inches apart. Much the same as wallpaper in fact.

Notice it is possible to cross the eyes such that adjacent strips of pattern can be made to overlap and occur to the brain as one coherent image. This works with any horizontal pattern which can be framed in view.

The game in the studio was to get some unsuspecting person (particularly a drunk person – in this case me) to look at the mixing desk and to cross their eyes and overlap adjacent channels. I was encouraged to overlap as many as possible.

Let me see if I can bring this to life for you.

I am standing looking at a mixing desk and Stuart, the tracking engineer on Duran Duran’s Astronaut, is instructing me to cross my eyes and move channel strip numbers to overlap them.

The mixing desk channels are visually consistent apart from these numbers. I am looking directly at 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 etc.

It is a beautiful old Neve VR60 desk with bright red and blue coloured knobs and long steel flying faders.

I manage to cross four strips over and create a single fairly stable image, such that the numbers 21 and 24 are sitting on top of one another.

It’s looking all a bit like something that has been shot with a fish eye lens, my eyes are watering and the perspective is really something, a very strange larger than life depth of field.

Then it happens…

Stuart throws a reel of gaffer tape into my field of view and it disappears into a void beneath the mixing desk.

It is just hovering in a nowhere underneath the knobs.

Then I remembered being a teenager.

The hand and the pattern.

And then I fell over 🙂

See you on the other side of the looking glass,

Anurajyati (be in love!)

Mark Ty-Wharton

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