By Tom Kelly
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 23rd February 2009
After a sudden shift in the Earth's crust, the ground has cracked open.
What was terra firma is now a gaping crevasse.
And into it - his arms raised in terror - plunges a hapless pedestrian on a shard of rock.
The Crevasse: The giant fissure, in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, spans over 250 square metres and appears to show a fault in the earth's crust
In another apocalyptic scenario, a family desperately struggle to cross what remains of a street. They hold hands while balancing on islands of tarmac.
Below them a rushing urban river laps against rocks that glow with volcanic intensity.
But, of course, neither of these scenes is what they appear. They are giant optical illusions conceived by German artist Edgar Mueller.
Hands across the great divide: But the torrent below is not what it seems
He spent five days, working 12 hours a day, to create the 250 square metre image of the crevasse, which, viewed from the correct angle, appears to be 3D. He then persuaded passers-by to complete the illusion by pretending the gaping hole was real.
'I wanted to play with positives and negatives to encourage people to think twice about everything they see,' he said.
'It was a very scary scene, but when people saw it they had great fun playing on it and pretending to fall into the earth.
'I like to think that later, when they returned home, they might reflect more on what a frightening scenario it was and say, "Wow, that was actually pretty scary".'
Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset
Mueller, 40, used acrylic wall paint to create the scene. He trained a camera lens on his work surface to help him fully visualise the idea before painting in the incredible detail to give an impression of depth on the flat surface.
He added: 'The conditions were difficult because if it started raining before a section had dried it could all wash it all away.
'I was very lucky that I managed to get each part done before the heavens opened.'
Scroll down to watch a video of the making of the The Crevasse...
The picture appeared on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, as part of the town's Festival of World Cultures.
The artist used the same technique to create the street-turned-river scene in the western German city of Geldern.
Use your eyes: The apocalyptic street art by German artist Edgar Mueller
It commemorated the 30th anniversary of an international competition of street painters, which takes place in the city every summer.
Mueller, who has previously painted a giant waterfall in Canada, said he was inspired by the British 'Pavement Picasso' Julian Beever, whose dramatic but more gentle 3D street images have featured in the Daily Mail.
They include a swimming pool chalked on the street so realistically that shoppers swerved to avoid it.
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