Now you see it, now you don’t — but no, your brain isn’t broken. The anamorphic illusion was created by a team of graffiti artists for the Stenograffia 2017 graffiti festival in Russia. The checkered background is a reference to the default background of a deleted image in Photoshop, and it’s aptly named after the keyboard shortcut “CTRL+X.”
To create the clever illusion, the artists covered a car and dumpster with white paint, then shone a patterned light on the objects from the specific angle from which the illusion is meant to be seen. They then traced the squares, applied tape, and spray-painted the corresponding regions grey.
Seen side-by-side with the original image, the finished product gives the impression that the graffitied car and dumpster were simply erased in Photoshop. The artists provided dozens of images of the process.
Graffiti culture has a long history of coverup. “Rival” artists Banksy and and King Robbo have engaged in an epic battle of one-upmanship, marking over each other’s work for decades. More recently, a street artist in London began spray painting condoms over penis graffiti in his “Protect City Cocks” project.
See the full process for “CTRL-X” on Facebook.