Ames Room

An Ames room is a specially constructed space that demonstrates aspects of visual perception.

People interpret visual scenes by relying on various cues. The Ames room is a specially constructed space that demonstrates the power of these cues. Normally, people use monocular depth cues such as relative size and height in the visual plane as indicators of depth.




The combo of two pictures shows Katrin Klingenberg and Sascha Koehler, employees at the exhibition ‘Wanderings about the Senses,’ demonstrating an optical illusion experiment in a so-called Ames room on August 13, 2013, in Berlin.





The combo of two pictures shows Katrin Klingenberg and Sascha Koehler, employees at the exhibition ‘Wanderings about the Senses,’ demonstrating an optical illusion experiment in a so-called Ames room on August 13, 2013, in Berlin.
(© Stephanie Pilick/Getty Images)

The design of the Ames room challenges traditional visual clues regarding relative size and other visual spatial relationships. Clues that people normally use for size are so powerful and reliable that viewers of the room typically experience spatial disorientation and other phenomena.

If two people of similar size stand a distance apart in an Ames room, the one closer to the viewer may appear larger whereas the person farther away appears higher in the visual plane. The principles of design used in constructing Ames rooms are found in a range of modern applications, such as theatrical set design and album covers.

See also Perception; Sensation ; Vision .

Resources

BOOKS

Dickinson, Sven J., and Zygmunt Pizlo. Shape Perception in Human and Computer Vision: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013.

PERIODICALS

Behrens, Roy R. “The Life and Unusual Ideas of Adelbert Ames Jr.,” Leonardo 20, no. 3 (1987): 273–79).