Tag Archives: Supermajor

‘Supermajor’ (1 of 2): Possible Explanations

Next: Reverse motion: What is Happening

Currently, in the Science Gallery, there is an exhibition on illusions (https://sciencegallery.com/illusion). One piece, by artist Matt Kenyon, is the work ‘Supermajor’. Here is a video of that work from another exhibition:

http://vimeo.com/52888178 [1]

I think this is the simplest description of what you see: a number of drops rising out of a pool of oil and going back into a hole in a tin can above it. The drops seem to be opposing the fall of gravity, moving in the opposite direction to its pull, rising not falling.


Given this is a video, you might think there is post-production here. You could get this appearance on the film if:

  • The temporal order of filmed frames is reversed: someone took the film and reversed the order of frames: what happens first (such as the drop being at the hole) seems to come last on the film, and what come last(such as the drop being at the pool) seems to come first.
  • The film is upside down: The drops are falling, not rising, but the camera is upside down. What seems up is in fact down; what seems to fall up is falling, in fact, down.

In both cases, you see falling drops which, because of the film, seem to be rising. In the absence of such post-production, you would see the drops fall. If you saw it in real life (as you can until September in the Science Gallery), then you would see the drops fall.

But there is no post-production here. The video is just a straight (and right side up) shoot, with the only effects on it due to the normal functioning of the camera. And the strangest feature of what you see — that of the drops rising — is visible in real life. If you go and look at the piece in the gallery, you will see the same thing. In fact, it is more pronounced; there is no appearance of flickering in real life.

So what are we seeing here, when we actually stand there in front of it? Are we really seeing drops rising up freely through the air to go back into the can? How could that be?

Given you stand where the recorder is in this video, and are seeing pretty much what you see here in the video, So what explanations might you have for what is apparent here?[2]

Continue reading