Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_object) calls them Impossible Objects (which they obviously are) but I have seen another term, possibly from mathematics or psychology, to describe such figures.


Escheresque, especially for art that is inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. -- Wiktionary

Escher + -esque
adj. 1. Resembling the works of M C Escher (1898-1972), Dutch artist, characterised by explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellation.


Optical illusion is a more general term for all such artwork. -- Wikipedia

An optical illusion (also called a visual illusion) is an illusion caused by the visual system and characterized by visually perceived images that differ from objective reality. The information gathered by the eye is processed in the brain to give a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source.

  • I find "escheresque" more specific. Escher's works are something more than just optical illusions: each part of them is perfectly consistent, they merge seamlessly together, but the final result is the graphic equivalent of an oxymoron that keeps baffling your mind even long after you discover the trick. – user218421 Feb 6 '17 at 20:14
  • Optical illusion is too broad as it can include illusions created with mirrors for example. "escheresque" on the other hand is too specific. The impossible trident (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_trident) is a non-Escher figure of this type. – Alva Feb 7 '17 at 20:34

Figure-Ground illusions. It's taught in Sensation and Perception courses as such, and often Intro to Psych as well. The word illusion may be dropped from the term.

Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher's ability to design ambiguous figure/ground prints made him famous.

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