'Upside-down’ street art creates a stunning optical illusion

Optical illusion mural
(Image credit: Marijampolė Tourist Information Centre)

At first glance, it looks like the ultimate street art faux-pas – the artist has only gone and painted their mural upside-down (we've all done it). But if the conditions are right, it becomes delightfully clear that this mural in Lithuania is in fact a brilliant optical illusion.

The design, currently doing the rounds on Reddit, appears the correct way up when reflected in the water below. On a sunny day, it looks like swimmers, swans and whales are all enjoying a dip – and the artist wants it to look different every time it's viewed in person. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our roundup of the best optical illusions.

mural_painted_upside_down_for_reflection from r/DesignPorn

With over 11k upvotes on Reddit's r/DesignPorn page, the mural by New York artist Ray Bartkus is enjoying renewed attention online – though it frequently pops up on social media. "This has got to be one of the most brilliant pieces of street art there is," one Redditor comments, while another adds, "How marvellous! This is seriously great."

Titled The Floating World, the mural was created by Bartkus in 2015, and is located on the side of an old dam building in Marijampolė, Lithuania. According to the town's tourist centre website, "depending on weather conditions, the reflection is rippled or clear, and sometimes disappears completely. The Artist expects that each time passerby will find something new. This piece of art is like a life – different every time."

Optical illusion mural

Bartkus installed the mural in 2015 (Image credit: Ray Baktus)

Curiously, as many Redditors have pointed out, the particular image of the mural shared on Reddit appears to have been somewhat Photoshopped, with no ripples of water present on the reflected mural. Not that this is necessary – perhaps part of the beauty of the illusion is how the reflection changes and distorts depending on the lighting and the water.

Optical illusion mural

The reflection never looks entirely the same twice (Image credit: Ray Baktus)

We've seen plenty of awesome examples of street-based optical illusions over the last few months, from this Eiffel Tower extravaganza to Rome's 'X-Ray' building. When the lighting's just right, Bartkus's Floating World is arguably one of the coolest pieces of street art around.

Read more:

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.