Scioto Mile Falls: A 3D Visual Adventure
There is always something to see and do at Bicentennial Park and along the Scioto Mile. The latest addition to the park is Scioto Mile Falls, a captivating piece of artwork transformed into a 3D visual experience. The installation, designed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, was created to complement free weekly programs for children and families. This unique 3D experience is made possible through American Electric Power’s support of the FountainSide series, which brings educational, cultural and fun activities to Bicentennial Park on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. throughout the summer.
Park visitors will find the Scioto Mile Falls at the top of the steps leading to the Scioto Mile Fountain. The image provides a great photo opportunity with the interactive fountain as a scenic backdrop. Printed on Asphalt Art, a non-slip and eco-friendly material, the sidewalk art will last up to a year.
How is the 3D effect created? The design uses an optical illusion called perspectival anamorphosis to create a dramatic 3D image. Perspectival anamorphosis distorts the image in such a way that it becomes visible only from a particular viewpoint. When observed from the wrong angle, the image appears flat and distorted but when viewed from the correct vantage point, the scene springs to life.
It’s a matter of perspective. A blue arrow near the artwork enables viewers’ to align themselves at the proper viewing angle. Depending on the viewers’ height, their distance from the image may need to be adjusted in order to achieve the optimal view. Additionally, if one eye is covered to remove depth perception, the 3D effect becomes even more realistic.
While artists have been using anamorphic effects for centuries, this style of artwork has seen a resurgence through the work of modern sidewalk chalk artists and been popularized through online social media. Leonardo da Vinci is largely credited as the first to explore this technique in a simple sketch, Leonardo’s Eye (c. 1485). Noted as one of the most famous early examples, Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors (1533) includes a human skull rendered in anamorphic perspective to create a visual puzzle within the painting. In the late 17th century, Andrea Pozzo transformed the flat ceiling in the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome with his paintings, creating the illusion of an ornate dome and arches.