Get Tanked: Fabulous Faux Swimming Pool Illusions


There are few things more delightful than a dip in a cool pool on a hot summer day – but there is definitely something different about these swimming pools. Despite looking like normal water-filled pools, people are walking upright on the bottoms and not getting wet. What in the world is going on here?


(images via: Swedish Bed, Toxel)

These highly unusual swimming pools are, in fact, illusions. Rather than being filled from bottom to top with water, these basins only have a very thin layer of H2O at the top. The chamber of the pool is actually a room that is entered through a small door to one side. The 10 cm-thick layer of water creates the illusion of a pool that is filled to the brim.

That illusion is called into question, of course, when an entire family is seen effortlessly walking on the bottom of the pool. Although it may seem obvious once you know the trick, it is undoubtedly disconcerting to those who are seeing the effect for the first time.


(images via: Swedish Bed)

The pools are the work of artist Leandro Erlich, a talented sculptor who wanted to open up a new perspective for those viewing the pools. How does it feel to look down through the shimmering water and see real, live people moving about below you? How does it feel to stand in the bottom of the pool and look up at the rest of the world through that layer of water? It must be an experience like nothing else.

Erlich installed one pool at the PS1 Art Center in New York and another at the 21st Century Art Museum in Kanazawa, Japan. Regardless of their geographic location, these incredible works of art would truly be a sight to behold. Was the artist making a statement on water conservation or simply having fun? Viewers are free to draw their own conclusions and decide just how deep to take their contemplation of the subject.