Levitating Dumpster Illusion

This Optical Illusion is mega super extra pro version – ultimate magic trick, I tell you! There was no digital modification done with this image, I can guarantee you that. Yet, it is unbeleivable and not understandable to my humble mind. This public installment was also done by creative artist called “Blue Sky”, and you can find more about this installment on his homepage. Previously I’ve posted his wonderfull mural called “Tunnelvision”, so be sure to check it out! “Levitating Dumpster” debuted at the Columbia Music Festival Association’s fundraising ‘Street Bash’ and no one suspected it was art installment. Attendants believed it was an actual dumpster and were unable to figure out what supported it. Autor and his wife are tight-lipped about the secret behind this magic act. Can you solve this enigma? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. My mind is blank regarding this one… maybe mirror reflecting dumpster on it’s upper side, while bottom of the mirror is transparent so you can see the house and the fence?

127 Replies to “Levitating Dumpster Illusion”

  1. The only thing I can think of is that the dumpster isn’t an actual dumpster.
    Just cleverly constructed and painted to look authentic.
    The structure is then filled with helium to allow it to float.

    I saw a performance of a ‘flying car’ a few months ago with a helium filled inflatable car (looked extremely real).

  2. IThe shadows don’t look quite right to me, but it is hard to tell there are no forgound objects to compair with. Maybe the shadow is painted and the dumpster is really larger and placed further back in the scene.

  3. Well, it could be cardboard filled with helium. Then it could just have some invisible thread tethering it so it won’t blow away. If the weight was balanced well enough, it wouldn’t take that much thread to keep it from blowing away.

  4. I’m down with the empty-cardboard line of reasoning, but I see no need to involve helium. If the thing weighs next to nothing, and you are already willing to stipulate that ultra-thin “invisible thread”-style guy wire would hold it in place (to the ground), then you could also easily dispense with the helium, and have invisible-thread suspending it from anchor points above — tethered to the building, streetlights, etc.

    That’d be simpler, and with the tether above instead of touching the ground, no one could discover it because it’d be way overhead, out of reach.

  5. The ‘thread’ theory relies on the assumption that the ‘can’ is stationary.

    If the helium (or whatever lighter-than-air gas they may have used) is balanced with oxygen just enough to get the can off the ground to keep it floating, but not rise (think: half empty balloon), then there would be no need for tethering. And a single snap of the shutter would ‘freeze’ whatever movement the can was making.

    This, of course, is based on nothing but guessing.

    Who really knows…

  6. If you look at the bottom picture that is two pictures, the dumpster on the left is what he claims to have mad airborne. However, the dumpster on the left(actually a real dumpster) isn’t the same as the one on the right. If you notice, right above the word “waste” on the right picture it has hindges or latches of some sort, but when its floating those latches are gone. So yes, its probably a piece of cardboard that is being held down by some invisible string.

  7. they threw the dumbster in air and then they took the picture when the dumbeter is in mid air

    or the got a crane took tthe dumbster then dropped it then took the picture before it hit the ground

  8. Am I the only who notices the shadow for the dumpster is behind it as seen in Picture 2, but the shadow of the gate is in front?

  9. the rust looks really bad on it. almost as if it wasn’t real. . .
    i dunno, it just doesn’t look like real rust. the cardboard box thing seems kind of logical, considering this. . . then again, who would go through with all that? go out and raise money for like, AIDS research or something :p

  10. Well, there’s not enough information and/or images of the “incident” to form a firm conclusion.
    But, as a part-time private investigator, and a computer graphics artist, here are my thoughts…
    The first rule of thought. The laws of Physics state that we CANNOT levitate a dumpster. “DUH”
    So, my first glance made me think, “huge dumpster, with board, painted on building in the background.”
    Or, the shadows may not line up correctly.
    Or, the actual dumpster image is different than the “floating” images.
    Or, what about the bags, attached to the side of the dumpster in places where they would not be.
    Or, just simple computer graphics touchup.

    In any case, I would have to see more images and more detail. Otherwise, I’m not really impressed at all.

  11. i have a problem with ur thereoy, jason. it has trash coming out of it in one. so it does have trash in it..

  12. Re: the shadows of the gate and the shadows of the dumpster. At first I thought the dumpster shadow was behind while the gate shadow was in front, but I think it’s actually an illusion (haha) that the gate shadow is in front. The gate is elvated off the ground slightly, so you can look underneath and see the shadow. But if you were looking at it with the assumption that the gate is resting on the ground, it would look as if the shadow is in front. Still no idea about the dumpster though. The picture on the bottom left, could it perhaps give us some clues about the “magic” behind the illusion? I see wire and paint, the dumpster already hanging off the edge of the building, plenty of trees to hang things from that maybe aren’t shown in the photos?

  13. FYI, the project was funded by the artist. Most of my father’s installation work is self-funded and free to the public. Unfortunately, this one is no longer extant, due to severe hurricane damage at the SC State Museum.

    You guys have come up with some.. interesting.. theories. :)

  14. I think I have finally found out what makes the dumpster float. He must have doon a bunch of hard work because the only way to make it appear as if it is floating is to copy it, pixel by pixel. The only problem is I don’t know if anyone would ever do it because it would take a very long time.

  15. omg how did they do dat?? wowowowowowowowowowowowowowowowow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love this one. i believe in magic now!!!!!!im lik sooooooooooooop happie!

  16. I think the dumpster is attached to a mural with a very realistic painting on it.
    When you look at it it seems to be floating in the air; but is really attached to a wall.

  17. Am I the only one who thought that the bags in the dumpster could have been filled with helium( notice how they bulge?) and the dumpster could have been made of thin metal and paint( and possibly cardboard)?

  18. It appears that the first picture is a mirror image of the dumpster, the mirror is cut out to look like the dumpster, yet the dumpster is being held up by a prob you cant see by looking at the cut out, almost like felice varini’s 3d rooms

  19. On the artist’s website, it says that it’s not a real dumpster. It was made to look real. So it’s apparently lighter than any other dumpster. But how in the heck did they make it look like it was being levitated? It’s amazing and mind-boggling to look at, by the way.

  20. Hmmm…sometimes we may end up overcomplicating things. Looking at the bottom left pic, I think it was resting on a wall or some support. And the dumpster was then pushed off in a sliding fashion like a projectile.

    And before it hit the ground, the picture was taken. I first thought my explanation was totally wrong, because this illusion existed in real time in some museum or something, but then I found out that it was just a pic. So its pretty much like a picture taken at the Olympics of a long jumper or pole vaulter. It makes sense in motion, but a still pic makes it difficult to guess…

    In short…try photographing a coin (or any object) dropping in mid-air…the picture may seem like, the object “was” levitating.

  21. Anyone notice that on the dumpster on the bottom right has 5 sides. I believe that this could be a well designed drawing. Plus, “Waste ‘R’ US,” is not a real company.

  22. Think about it… has any one ever seen a dumpster with the nme waste ‘R’ us on it? really? bcz if u have id luv to know

  23. Have any of you seen the thing where there is a bowl shaped object with a dome top and hole in the center of the top and the entire thing is filled with some configuration of mirrors that when you put a object in side of it, like say a die, and it creates a 3d hologram of the object in the hole? Perhaps this is just a giant one of these with a dumpster inside.

  24. Look
    on the “levitating” picture, it appears there is a trashbg sticking out of the side. It could be a box made out of cardboard, filled with trash bags filled with helium. Then, guessing on this one, you could use an extremely light gauge fishing line and tie it to the bottom. If, you look, the box is tilted, implieing that both the trash bags coming out throw it off balance, and that it is tied somewhere

  25. anyone thinking it is cardboard with helium is most likely boarder-line retarded… worst explination i could have possibly seen. You should probably just not post anymore

  26. on the bottom left picture there seems to be something that looks like a paint brush covered in red paint and a paint can (probably used to paint the red splotch on) plus the “dumpster” is sitting on some wierd conraption, a real dumpster would probably sit on the ground in a parking lot where it is easily accesble. This means that the dumpster in the bottom left is made by the artist (probably cardboard filled with helium) and the same one that is made to float. His website says it was a public installment meant to fool people into thinking there is a floating dumpster so it is obviously not jsut photoshopped or a painting.

  27. It’s been stated that this was a fake dumpster. It was also publicly shown. It could have been made extremely light, and hung from somewhere on thin threads. It was high in the air, so investigation of it would be hard, even if someone was there in person.

  28. The dumpster could be a real dumpster and supported by something behind it and everything else behind it is an extremely well painted picture

  29. Its obvious.. the dumpster is made of something really light and then painted to look like the real dumpster (the one on the ground)

    The bags are bulged like there is air in them, not trash. This is to add to the effect by seeing trashbags coming from it but its also showing it must have helium in it.

  30. whoever said that the dumpster had a fake shadow is wrong because this peice of work was displayed in public, no? You can’t really use fake shadows in reality because although they look good in pics, they cant stand up to a close examination.

  31. “IThe shadows don’t look quite right to me, but it is hard to tell there are no forgound objects to compair with. Maybe the shadow is painted and the dumpster is really larger and placed further back in the scene.”
    I dissagree if you look at it the dumpsters are over the SKY not looking like it’s even in front of ground, If you want to figure something out you might want to take more time observing it

  32. the bags cant be filled with helium or air, because the bags sag. if the bags were filled with helium or air the bags would be floating up. the only thing i can think of is that the dumpster was dropped and caught with a high speed camera


    As far as I can see, NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED PHOTOSHOP YET!! (or at least not specifically)


    Usually all you have to do is open up ANY illusion on this site and INSTANTLY about a million people start screaming “PHOTOSHOP!!!”, even when that is wrong and stupid, because the description CLEARLY rules out photoshop. (as in this case)


    Oh, and while I’m here, may I point out that the shadow is NOT fake, yet not as it seems?

    Note: in the top pic the shadow looks as if it is UNDER the dumpster.

    However, by looking at the rest of the shadows, you can see that the shadow should really be IN FRONT OF the dumpster.

    But the next picture shows that the shadow is BEHIND the dumpster!

    That suggests that there is some kind of trickery going on, right?

    1. yes jack im sure they waited a couple of hours just to take another pic from another angle just to mess with you. nice job

  34. to: amazing discovery: maybe the two pix were taken at different times in the day.

    p.s.! why would there be garbeage coming out from the SIDE of the dumpster. shouldn’t it be the top?!

  35. Not gas. Gas would make it bulge. Second, The two pictures of it in the air have the exact same angle, tilt AND shadow. If this thing was floating, the photographer would not have been able to get around fast enough for the angle and shadow to have not changed when the second photo was taken.

    Must be very light and suspended by very thin thread or fishing line. The photo is not exactly high resolution, so the thread/line would easily vanish.

    1. That is awesome. I’m still giggling. Thank you Mitch for you wonderful wit. I also give you a salut

  36. Oh my gosh! You guys are retarded. Before assuming your ridiculous theories maybe you should look at Bly Sky’s website! This was a real thing, the illusion is not in the photograph, the photo is just the only way it could be put on a website. Therefore, photoshop, drawing, painting, billboards, and whatever nonsense is out of the question! Goodness gracious. If you want to find the answer maybe you should know what you’re talking about first! This was a real exhibit and people saw it and walked around it. I don’t know the answer, but most of you a 100% wrong.

    1. My goodness. You could have stated your opinion to everyone with out calling them ridiculous or retarded. You don’t have the answer either, so no need to be rude an pompous. Lemme rephrase for you. People will not listen to you if you insult them. Your point would have been made if you had been nice. Let me rewrite it for you.

      Oh my gosh! You guys should read Blue Sky’s website first. This was a real thing, the illusion is not in the photograph. The photo is just the only way it could be put on a website. Therefore, photoshop, drawing, painting, billboards, and whatever else are not good theories. This was a real exhibit and people saw it and walked around it. I don’t know the answer, but most of you a 100% wrong.

      Point still made. Insults deleted. There’s no reason to be a jerk.

  37. Does anyone else think that the front of the dumpster is concave a little? Just a the thereoy. So im going with floating dumpster

    1. yes buddy the dumpster does appear to be floating now we r just trying to figure out how it seems that way

  38. He drew around the dumpster that was probably against a wall. The background is the drawing. The dumpster is real.

  39. Thats awesome. Tried Googling how it was possible, and couldn’t find any realistic claims, so im assuming its being held up by some sort of crane or building.

  40. We were told he consulted the famous American landscape photographer Jeff Mitchum for 3 D composition.They said Mitchum helped with the directional light and angles.

  41. The artist tells us that it was manufactured to ‘look like’ a real dumpster. Therefore it wasn’t a real dumpster. We have another clue in that it was ‘destroyed by the tail end of a hurricane’. Now a real dumpster would hardly be affected by wind — but a dumpster-shaped balloon could be torn to shreds. My money is on a dumpster-shaped balloon.

  42. some glass and magicians thread can be almost invisible does that give eny thoughts? pluss the dumpster is close to a wall and like JONJ sayed the dumpster might be fake so it could be light enuf to hang by magicians thred!!!!

    p.s. can u check out my web site?
    e-lacasse.synthasite.com or eal.com

  43. shut up ghetorayden i can “do” telekinesis, if you havent figured it out yet, either its mirrors and paint or theres a little dumpster stuck to the cam…but that wouldnt explain the shadow….it cant be telekinesis cuz i wasnt there…im floating right now belive it or not

  44. I think their is a fake shadow of some kind (mayby painted on the ground? And then they held a miniatyre of a container infront of the cammera while shooting. But proberly a pretty bad guess :P

  45. The Shadow is not where it should be, but because we can see the dumpster from multiple angles, that rules out a huge billboard…hm

  46. The lighting of the bags on the first picture doesn’t seem to line up with any of the lighting for anything else in that picture

  47. My Guess: outer shell of dumpster is just well crafted cardboard, spray painted to look like metal. Then filled inside with a bunch of helium. Makes sense because that doesn’t seem like the normal size and color of a regular dumpster.
    Have you seen those pictures of the U.S army fooling the Germans with inflatable tanks, looked very realistic.

  48. awesome! By the way we all know tis not a real dumpster because a) the bags are comming out the side and b) look at the logo ( waste (backwards r) us”

  49. theres something wrong with the gate and its shadow…on the left side of its shadow u can see the strings of the gat, on the right side the shadow is blurred.
    so i assume the dumbster is standing on the surface and everithing what seems to be under it is painted on the surface, but that means people couldnt walk around the construction like BestBassoon said… maybe people were only allowed to see it from far behind??

  50. the installment plays on the fact that when we see a familiar object, we associate universal characteristics with the object such as smell, texture or in this case weight. the object looks heavy so therefore it must be heavy in our minds.

    when he made a replica of the object, i think he went out of his way to use super light weight materials and replicate them to look heavy.
    I think it is made out of Styrofoam and painted, hence the plastic bags. They are lightweight but add a sense of realism to the installment. He then would support it in the air with fishing line as someone earlier mentioned.

    Marcel Duchamp did something similar in one of his Readymades, ‘Why Not Sneeze, Rrose Selavy?’ He hand sculpted what looked like sugar cubes in a birdcage but were actually marble pieces. So when you tried to lift the installment, you would misjudge the weight and be surprised by how heavy it was.

    true illusions.

    this is a link about marcel duchamps readymade.


  51. it is a helium filled balloon with a thin light plastic shell over it kept in place by fans or string or something just floating. no one can touch it and it stays in place so no one sees that it is extremely light and in fact just floating like a balloon with a weight on it, so everyone thinks its a real dumpster. i bet if you threw a rock at it it would bob and shake and jiggle like a normal party balloon

  52. the dumpster might be supported by transparent cables that run across to different buildings.Other than that theory of mine,im clueless.

  53. Seen something similar at a motor show in UK – a ‘levitating’ car – in fact it was a helium filled balloon, extremely well designed and painted and with very tiny remote controlled propellors at each corner.

  54. I think that the background under the dumpster is not real,it is painted onto a block which the dumpster sits on top of. if you look at the building in the background the window on the bottom right seems slightly smaller than the other windows! lol who knows!

  55. The only thing i can think of is a custom made dumpster in appearance lighter than air object. an object of this size would be able to harbor enough lighter than air substance if made of the right materials… but even if this was the case, which is really unlikely, that is an amazing piece of art!

  56. The lighter-than-air explanation is the only one that makes sense to me. A dumpster made from balsa wood, painted by an artist, could fool anybody (especially from 20 feet away. Put a bunch of helium balloons insisde, and up it goes. Superfine monofilament fishing line would be enough to hold it in place.

  57. As it is said on artist´s site, that was not a real dumpster, but a replica, copy of it. So, I think it was a very light object made of thin plastic or carton, and it was hanging in the air with a thin transparent horizontal thread that was attached to the nearest buidings.

  58. I thingk they took a picture whhile it was being lifted by a garbage truck for emptying, and superimposed it over a picture of the exact same location at a different time. Perhaps if the twi pictures were taken at varying times of day it would also explain why the shaddow “feels” wrong.

  59. So one part is it doesn’t weigh much, e.g., it is Styrofoam or something like that. So, whatever is holding it there doesn’t have to hold very much weight, indeed, it may have more concern about wind than weight.

    A couple of nearly invisible rigid wires pulled from a not excessive distance might do it. The photos are unclear as to whether there are any nearby buildings or poles tall enough for suspending such wires.

    If the two photos are from the same exhibition it is worth noticing that the “dumpster” is not in the same position, so it has moved due, perhaps, to being blown by the wind.

  60. A bit of information that is missing is whether at the public installation the public was allowed to approach the object (the ground beneath it). If not, that is an obvious tell of the use of a transparent pedestal, although exactly where and how is not as obvious. Again, it could be at a short distance with some rigid or semirigid arm used to attach to the object.

  61. The shadows are right. All shadows are behind the objects (like the dumpster). The shadow of the gate seems to be to the front, but it is really to the back, it is just that the gate it is not touching the street and you are seeing under the gate. That’s the reason that you can not see the other shadows.

  62. I hate saying it but this seems like it could be a fake. I say that while admitting I don’t know if she dumpster is “stable” or not, but it is clearly at a sharper angle in the bottom right picture than the more evenly flat position of the top picture…

  63. i think its not a mirror image.(coz its shadow is reflected on the surface of the road..)if it is not reealy fake, may be four transparent glass stands(may not be same height) at each corner is used to hold the dumpster.

  64. Ok so what I’m thinking is that the artist made a light weight replica of the dumpster and filled it with helium filled balloons, but enough balloons to counter weight how heavy the replica is so that it balances then just let it float there and amaze people.

  65. It’s a paining underneath of dumpster to look like sky and gate and ground, its not floating or anything it just looks like theres no ground underneath it, tis all, Iv’e seen something similar to this before, it’s a trink of the eye :)

  66. well u know what? i think that the whole seen is painted

    i saw something similar in Disney Land where there was a wall painted to look like the street when on for like 6 blocks and it looked pretty freaking realistic…….

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