This man bravely teeters on the edge of a ravine . . . beneath the Eiffel Tower? Not quite! Street artist and photographer JR is famous for his large-scale public art. Last spring, he created the mind-bending illusion above that took social media by storm.

To make the work, JR installed an enormous black-and-white photo collage in a public square across the river from the Eiffel Tower. When viewers face the tower from a specific spot in the square, they see what appears to be a massive chasm opening beneath the tower. JR works with trompe-l’oeil, (trohmp-LOY), a French term for using perspective to trick the eye into perceiving two-dimensional surfaces as three-dimensional. 

JR’s installations encourage people to interact with their surroundings. Visitors pose for photos, like the one above, appearing to leap over or peer into the fake canyon. “[I]t’s really cool because it’s really realistic,” said one visitor, Lara Watson. “It’s a piece of art because of the Eiffel Tower already behind it.”