My first exposure to Hollusion prints was last June, in my cousin's house. They had a print of a multicolored dot design hanging from their living room wall entitled "Dinosaurs." I was told to look at my reflection, and the dinosaurs should appear in 3D. I stared, growing more frustrated every second as my cousins looked on and laughed. The whole family got involved, and every minute or so, another relative announced that they saw something.
"That's so cool!" said my little brother. "There are two dinosaurs fighting!"
"And look! There's a cave in the upper right corner!" said my aunt.
Even my seven-year-old cousin announced that there were pterodactyls flying in the sky.
Me? I saw dots. "Make your eyes glaze over." "Don't focus on anything." "Cross your eyes." "Let everything go fuzzy." My father saw the images and immediately decided he was an expert on the matter. It was so obvious, I was told.
An hour later I gave up, angry and embarrassed. "And you call yourself a Harvard student," they said.
In September, I arrived at my dorm and found "Calypso Reef" hanging on the wall of our common room. The unthinkable had happened: my roommate had bought a Hollusion.
"Calypso Reef" featured dolphins and a sunset. Every few days, someone would come into our room, stare into the picture for a minute or two, and proclaim that they had seen dolphins and that they were sooo cool. I hated that.
But then, one night last week, I decided to give the Calypso Reef one more shot. I don't know what I did differently, but suddenly, a whole oceanic scene appeared. Dolphins were jumping out of the water. Palm trees were silouhetted against a gorgeous sunset. It was beautiful. And admittedly, it was sooo cool.
Apparently, many other first-years already know this. These prints can be spotted on walls throughout the Yard and Union dorms.
Hollusion 3-D prints are manufactured by the Texas-based NVision Grafix, Inc. According to the company's vice president of marketing, Steve Kersen, the computer-generated posters first came out in August of 1992, when two UT-Austin grads, computer specialist Mike Bielinski and artist Paul Herber, teamed up to create the high-tech aesthetics of Hollusions. The image appears because, by looking "through" the poster instead of at its surface, your brain is tricked. The altered focal point creates the illusion of a three-dimensional image.
"At first people didn't get it... but we've sold 500,000 so far," claims Kersen.
The 28" x 28" prints can be found at the Coop for $57.90, already framed and glassed. Glass provides the necessary alternate focal point, according to Kersen. In other words, there needs to be a reflection.
NVision Grafix also offers smaller 11" x 14" prints available at the Coop for a more affordable $35.90.
According to manager Susan Noffsinger, the Coop has sold hundreds of Hollusions. "It brings a lot of traffic into the store. It's a form of entertainment," she said. At first, Noffsinger had doubts about the product. "We thought once people recognized [the image] at the store, they wouldn't want to take it home with them," she said.