Only the Flashed Face Distortion illusion can make celebrities look hideous

Flashed Face Distortion Effect illusion

Celebrities are supposed to be those glorified beauties that seem hardly attainable for everyday humans like you and me. Just accept it. Now that you have, perhaps you can have a little fun with this optical illusion that can give ordinary photos (celebrity pictures included!) a wild facial distortion. Take that, Mila Kunis.

The Flashed Face Distortion Effect works by aligning two front-facing photos at the eyes and forcing viewers to focus at a middle point between the two photos. As the portraits flash through, the eyes begin to compare the features, making them look distorted and out of place. Reverting the eyes back to the photos on either side turns the pictures back to normal, but focusing at the plus sign in the middle continues to destroy any evidence of beauty (or even normality).

The phenomenon was accidentally discovered by a researcher at the University of Queensland when he was browsing through a series of images.

“After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque,” Matthew Thompson writes of Sean Murphy, the student who discovered the illusion. “He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive.”

In the video flashing through celebrities, after a few rounds of photos, Halle Berry’s face seems to stretch at the middle while Jim Carrey doesn’t even look human anymore. “If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous,” Thompson explains on his website.

The Flashed Face Distortion Effect recently won an award for Best Illusion of the Year Contest 2012 and cites the illusion as a “useful tool for investigating contrastive distortion effects and face adaption.”

While it doesn’t change that some celebrities are naturally pretty gorgeous and photogenic (at least with the help of professional hair and makeup), the video does add a little humor and validation that celebrities are just like us: No technological illusion can save them either! Of course, if you prefer to think of Ms. Kunis or Angelina Jolie as beauty goddesses who can do no wrong, stop now before the video gives you nightmares for days.

Meanwhile, here’s the first version of the Flashed Face Distortion Effect illusion using photos of the everyday woman.

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