first exhibit is the distorted room: it is a "magic" house whose
interior, looking it from a peephole, seems to be a normal room
at first sight. However, as soon as the visitor introduces some
puppets into the room, they turn to be dwarves or giants occasionally;
then to be fair to it, the room floor, that seemed to be flat, is
sloped, a window proves to be a door...
is the so-called Ames'
Room test, the name of the American ophtalmologist that used
it to show how the human perceptive system can deceive: the mind
"recognizes" according to previous experiences and cultural influences.
phenomenon can be explained by means of the second test.
There are some pyramids that are used to explain why "identical"
objects can look "different" and "different" objects can look "identical",
if we merely look into.
Each pyramid has a hole at its vertex and through it the visitor
can "peep", this way simulating the action of viewing. Some slots
on the walls allow him to insert different pipings and to see how
they look: asymmetric quadrilaterals look like square after having
been put in, irregular shapes look like regular, silhouettes like
those used in the first test help understanding why the Ames' Room
provokes such an impression.
The hand shadow game at the beginning of this part is inspired by
the name matemilano and is based on the visual pyramid principle
too: some mathematical signs are lighted by a dot-like energy
source and throw a shadow where one can read milano.
exhibit goes back to perspective scenography techniques: from the
"correct" point of view (the vertex of the visual pyramid) the image
coming out is a little table with the Galleria
in the background; from other
viewpoints, the whole image distorts and breaks up, like in
a scenography observed from the backstage.
model of the choir of Santa
Maria presso San Satiro, one of Milan churches, by Bramante
(here exhibited thanks to the courtesy of Museo di Storia della
Scienza in Florence), and one of the "virtual tests" shown in the
workstation, refer to the theme of rebuilding the reality. The model
is divided into two parts: the left part represents the perspective
illusion created by Bramante, the right one represents the architectural
development of "how we imagine the false choir, when we are looking
at it". If we observe it from a suitable point of view, the perspective
and the architecture of the choir vault compose themselves in a
The virtual test allows the visitor to "go into" the scene where
Conversazione by Piero della Francesca is fit; this painting,
now kept at Pinacoteca di Brera, is one of the most famous examples
of perspective rebuilding.
Finally a last exhibit "reverses" the experience the visitor has already done as regards the
distortion undergone by an object image when it is reflected by non flat mirrors: some distorted
objects are placed in front of this
hemispheric mirror and they appear set up right in the reflected image.