The Droste effect is a specific kind of recursive picture, also referred to as mise en abyme (“placing into infinity”). An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. This smaller version then …depicts an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration exponentially reduces the picture’s size.
The effect is named after a particular image that appeared, with variations, on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands. It displays a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box of the same brand. The brand’s effect, maintained for decades, became a household notion. Reportedly, poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker introduced wider usage of the term in the late 1970s.
The mathematical interest in these packaging illustrations is their implied infinity. If the resolution of the printing process—(and the determination and eyesight of the illustrator)—were not limiting factors, it would go on forever. A package within a package within a package…like the Russian wooden dolls.
10. General Photographic and Imaging Effects
The idea of recursive imagery has been in art for centuries, as seen in examples like the Stefaneschi Triptych, by Giotto di Bondone in 1320. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter. Photos, paintings and other images use the image often for impact or other messages meant to be conveyed by the art itself.
9. Don Pepe Pizza Sauce
8. Land o’ Lakes Margarine
This packages for this well known margarine brand includes a picture of the package itself on the same label.
7. Sluggo (well known cartoon character)
6. Knights of the Lambda Calculus
The Knights of the Lambda Calculus is a semi-fictional organization of expert LISP and Scheme hackers. There is no actual organization that goes by the name Knights of the Lambda Calculus; it mostly only exists as a hacker culture in-joke.
5. Smarties Candy
Not to be confused with the chocolate candy of the same name, these Smarties are a type of artificially fruit-flavored candy produced by Ce De Candy, Inc, and are called Rockets in Canada. This Droste imagery has the package logo as a picture of the package.
4. The Laughing Cow (La vache qui rit)
The Laughing Cow (La vache qui rit) is a brand of cheese products made by Fromageries Bel.
3. Momento Movie Poster
Momento, a movie made in 2000 about a man who is unable to make new memories, and is mentally always in the same moment in time, despite what may have happened leading up to the point. The Droste Effect is used cleverly to show how the same moment keeps repeating over to inifinity.
2. Ummagumma Album Cover
Released in 1969, the third album from Pink Floyd, featuring classics such as Careful With That Axe, Eugene and Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.
1. Droste Cocoa
The package that started it all in our modern society. It has managed to become the name of the effect, and since nobody really says “recursive imagery” – they say “Droste Effect” – this packaging has successfully transformed itself into tehr actual branding of the image.