What is the Droste effect?
The Droste effect describes a specific type of recursive picture in which a smaller version of the larger image is featured within the larger image. Another term for this surreal photography effect is mise en abyme, which refers to the practice of inserting a replica of an image within itself. This creates a repetition that could theoretically continue forever, as the smaller version of the picture would contain an even smaller replica, and so on.
Artist and photographer Josh Sommers is an expert on the Droste effect. “A real-world example would be if you held two mirrors up to each other,” he explains. “You’d look into the mirror and see an infinite tunnel of reflections of the two mirrors going back and forth. That’s somewhat of a Droste effect.”
The history of Droste effect images.
Droste effect is a Dutch term coined by poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker in reference to the packaging design of Droste cocoa powder. The cocoa box, designed by Jan Misset in 1904, shows a nun carrying a serving tray on which sits a cup of hot chocolate and a box of Droste cocoa. The smaller cocoa box on the tray shows the very same image of the nun holding the tray and box. Other examples of this effect in pop culture include a previous version of the Land O’Lakes butter packaging and the 1969 Pink Floyd album art for Ummagumma.
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