You’ve seen it. You know what it is. But did you know there’s a name for this? It’s called the “the Droste Effect.” Or to put it another way, it’s an image within an image of the same image. The cover photo to classic British rock band Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma” album, pictured above, is an excellent example of the effect. Within the album-cover photo, a framed photo is hanging on the wall, and in that frame is the album cover, which is a photo with the framed album cover photo on the wall, and so on, and so on, And so on. And so on.
Except in the Pink Floyd example, there’s gimmicky twist (as if the effect itself wasn’t already a bit gimmicky). The loop logic in the Droste Effect here is broken. It’s been circumvented by the band making a subtle change to the image. Look closely and you’ll notice that in each of the looped images within the image, while the composition is the same, the four members of Pink Floyd are in different positions in each of the recurring images. Brilliant.
A better example of the Droste Effect then is pictured below. It’s from the tin-can packaging for the eponymous Droste’s Cacao that “Droste Effect” was coined. On the front of the tin is an image of a nun holding a tray with the same package on which she appears.