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The Mysterious Escherian Stairwell


A lot of you may have seen the above clip in the last few days of a mysterious Escherian stairwell that is said to be housed in the Rochester Institute of Technology in the USA. It shows an “impossible” staircase said to have been designed by a Filipino architect named Rafael Nelson Aboganda. The staircase is said to be an “architectural marvel that seems to violate the laws of physics and basic logic by looping back into itself”.The clip has gone viral with millions of views on Youtube and thousands of posts on Facebook.

Making the Impossible Believable

The illusion of the Escherian  stairwell is obviously/actually a wonderful hoax by a very clever guy  named Michael Lacanilao who is a film/animation graduate student at the Rochester Institute. He went to a lot of trouble to actually make not only the clip of the stairwell, but also to frame it inside a fake science documentary set in the 1997. The clip was designed to raise publicity for the college which it most definitely has!

Men in White Coats

The most interesting aspect of this clip for me, is the amount of people who actually believed the Escherian stairwell to be genuine even though it is genuinely impossible. This goes to prove that almost anything can be made believable if it is framed in the right context. I often say that you can get away with most things in this country if you are wearing either a high visiblity jacket or a white coat, let alone a uniform. We are conditioned to believe things if they appear to be told to us by either someone in authority or in this case a science documentary. I sincerely believe that if this mock documentary had been created to show a clip of a man flying unaided, then the majority of people would have also believed that.

Good News

Now the good news for me is that even fellow magicians have been fooled by this clip which goes to show that even persons who are used to thinking “outside the box” can believe the impossible which gives me great confidence as a performer, that our spectators can actually believe in the wonder of magic! And we don’t even need to wear a white coat!

Thank you

All credit to Mr Lacanilao for creating the brilliant clip and creating a hoax that has gone viral and achieved exactly what he wanted it to. I am personally thankful to him for making me remember that the sense of wonder can be achieved in an entertainer’s performances if we go about it in the right way.


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