I know that multistable perception refers to the phenomenon that occurs when we look at an ambiguous image like a Necker Cube or some sort of positive/negative space art, and we can’t perceive both possibilities at once, but rather waver between them repeatedly. However, all of the visual examples I’ve seen of this phenomenon only have two possible interpretations (of course, putting two Necker Cubes next to each other leads to $4$ possible interpretations, and three Necker Cubes gives $8$ interpretations, etc).

However, does anyone know of a well-known ambiguous image or piece of art with exactly three different interpretations between which the viewer switches back and forth? If not, can anyone construct such an image?



Here’s an image I found that triggers tristable perception (as opposed to just bistable perception):

Tristable Cubes

The three possible interpretations are

  • A big cube with a smaller cube in front of it
  • A big cube with a small cubical chunk missing
  • A room with a small cube sitting in the corner

Apparently there is a fourth possible interpretation, but it is so “unlikely” that we can’t visualize it very readily.

This comes from a paper called The dynamics of perceptual rivalry in bistable and tristable perception.” Can anyone find any more examples?


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