The Artist in the Mirror, as Seen Through a Smartphone

Photo recursion in video form

The Droste effect occurs when a picture appears within itself, in a place where a different picture would generally be expected. You may know the effect, in art, as mise en abyme (as in Velazquez's painter-in-the-mirror in "Las Meninas"); you may also know it, slightly more scientifically, as a "strange loop." But you most likely know it, in a less explicit form, as a popular trope in digital photography: pictures-of-pictures-that-are-seen-through-smartphone-screens.

Alexander Kolomietz combined all of those iterations to create the iterative video above. At a recent birthday party, the photography fan asked his smartphone-equipped friends (more than 20 of them) to arrange themselves into a circle. And then he asked them to aim their cameras at the phones of the people in front of them -- creating, basically, a screen-based daisy chain. Kolomietz collected the resulting photos and, with the help of a bit of image processing, turned them all into a video. One that is dizzying and just a tiny bit frightening and either way a fitting tribute to a world that is, increasingly, mediated by screens.

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Adults Who Live In Treehouses

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Video

Just In