The Droste Effect is a type of repeating visual effect that occurs when an image contains a smaller copy of itself. In turn, this smaller image also contains a smaller copy of itself, with the pattern continuing on in a strange loop.
The effect is named after an image first introduced around 1900 and used on the cocoa boxes and tins produced by Dutch chocolate manufacturer Droste. The image depicts a nurse holding a tray of hot chocolate and a box of cocoa with the recursive image.1
One of the earliest examples of the Droste effect can be found in the Stefaneschi Triptych by Giotto in 1320. As illustrated bellow, the center panel depicts Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering a smaller version of the painting to St. Peter.
Due to the accessibility of low cost computer editing programs, there has been a lot of cool images and videos using the Droste effect uploaded to the web. Here are some of my favorite.
British artist Dan Harvey and Heather Ackroyd are the creative minds behind these large scale living grass illustrations. Their inventive process involves mounting large plots of seedling grass onto a wall and projecting an image upon it. The varying degrees of light which the grass is exposed to cause it to grow in varying shades of yellow and green.
The use of grass as a medium to capture an image began as an accidental discovery. After having left a ladder leaning over a grass wall they found that its image had been imprinted. From there they began experimenting with the capabilities of grass to capture simple designs and then later working up to more complex images. Along the way they have collaborated with scientist at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research in Wales in the use of a stay-green grass which allows them to preserve the image for longer periods of time.