An eye for the unseen

Unique Hobbies

An eye for the unseen

Seeing is not always believing and no one can tell you that better than Prof Raj Muthaiah. Simply because optical illusions are his forte.

A professional magician, with a human resources background, he has been collecting   optical illusion pictures for a long time now. To be precise, these incredible pictures can trick the eye into seeing something which is not real.

“I started picking up optical illusion pictures when I was very young. I remember seeing an article in the ’80s on the subject and that was the turning point,” says Raj, who has been practising magic for over 32 years now. His collection is  vivid and varied, coming from across the world. “I have over 1,000 animated illusions like the waves, black cheetah, galloping horses etc. It’s just amazing.” These pictures truly provide a fascinating look into what one thinks is reality.

A member of the ‘International Brotherhood of Magicians’, St Louis, US, he says, he was able to get some ‘cool illusions’ from America.

“I can create an illusion in your thinking process. As magicians, we use a lot of optical illusions and I have handpicked some colourful ones. I have a wheel, which has two colours, but when you spin it, each wheel shows different colours. The pictures that animate themselves are quite intriguing. Each picture is different from the other,” he says.

“I am also in touch with veterans, dealing in optical illusions in the US and have got pictures from them,” informs Raj, who is the vice-dean of the Karnataka Foundation of Magic.

There are more surprises coming out of the magician’s wand. “I also have a huge collection of playing cards,” he informs. The cards, with its artistry and texture, have fascinated him so much that he collects complete decks of cards from across the world. “I am in touch with playing card makers from US, Italy and China, apart from India. I get these from casinos, magicians and magic dealers,” he says.

He also points out how the playing cards that you find abroad are completely different from the ones here. “American cards, for instance, have a totally different surface. They have air bubble surface, which do not need lubrication. You can play with them any number of times unlike Indian cards, which needs lubrication even if you play for some time,” he says.

“I normally collect cards from the country I visit. I place orders with dealers as well. Unfortunately, sometimes in the course of the delivery, the cards get lost and I get only empty parcels. I had lodged a complaint with the postal department here,” he informs. This is one disappearing act he is yet to decipher!

“I also have the magicians’ playing cards, with different set of numbers, as well as a collection of jokers, although it is not a big one. A friend has promised to give me his entire collection of jokers. It’s my passion that keeps me going. I always look for something new to add to my collection,” he adds.

Raj is also working on his big dream, “which is to make a holographic image practical. Holography is a technique which enables the creation of three-dimensional images. Try to catch the image and you won’t be able to feel it,” he says. Further, he also hopes to establish an optical illusion museum in Bangalore.

Raj’s collections are clearly one-of-its kind, and prove, well, that things may not be as they seem!

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