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in Filmmaking
on Apr 19, 2009

This strange blog post is part Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse, part MAD magazine, but really, it’s just an excuse for me to learn a new word: “pareidolia.” According to Wikipedia, the term “describes a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.”

“Hoax or pareidolia?” is what Derren Brown asks about the kookily enjoyable internet meme that proposes that Michael Jackson somehow moonwalked in time back to 1974’s Foreman/Ali “Rumble in the Jungle.” The evidence: between 5:45 and 5:46 of the video below, a spectral Michael is said to be bobbing and weaving in the crowd.

Those who don’t want to watch the whole video can go to the Forgetomori blog, which has an animated GIF of the section in question. Supposedly, a boxing enthusiast named Luis Fernando found this clip on YouTube and “saw” Michael. Forgetomori responds:

The face is indeed bizarre, and I found it interesting enough to post here. And I honestly and unfortunately don’t have a clear explanation for the image. It could be a hoax, a bizarre face added digitally and recently to the scene, as what we assume would be the black hair around the face is actually transparent.

On the other hand, the are some things that interact with the image – passing both in front and behind the “face” – which suggest that it was not such a bad editing job. And also suggest that perhaps it’s not a hoax, but pareidolia. Even if I have no idea of what could have looked like a face with glowing eyes. Certainly the height of that face is not right, it’s at the height of everyone else’s waists. Perhaps a bag? I don’t know.

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