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.

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

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

More in Video

Just In