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A few weeks back, Yuv posted a how-to on MathMap, a Gimp plugin that allows distortion of images specified in a simple programming language. Yuv’s instruction on compiling from source work fine but you can also grab .deb and .rpm binaries from the MathMap homepage. What made me want to try MathMap was this image I found on FlickR, generated using the Pierce Quincuncial projection – a conformal map projection that presents a sphere as a square. It also has the mind bending recursive Droste effect for maximum weirdness. If you want to play with this projection, copy and paste the script from here. I used fpsurgeon’s version, though I had to comment out two lines at the end to get it to wrap properly (starting imagex= and imagey=).

To get started, load up an equirectangular panorama (aspect ratio must be 2:1) then go to Filters -> Generic -> MathMap and paste in the Quincuncial script. By setting imageH to 1, adjusting the number of tiles and equator level, I quickly came up with this (click for a bigger version).


This one works quite well with multiple tiles as they seem to be interconnected by the Millennium bridge.


Click ‘Drostify’ to apply the Escher-esque effect to the tiles. ‘DrosteP1’ is the number of  strands spiraling in, and ‘DrosteP2’ is the number of repetitions of the basic element per cycle. The effect of the Quincuncial projection is lost a little in this image of Brighton Pier but the Droste effect is fairly insane.


And by playing around with some of the other options you can really go to town. These effects are all so abstract that the problem is knowing when to stop tweaking – it really is quite addictive. Here’s St. Paul’s Cathedral disappearing into a vortex.




  1. check out this, one of my favourite videos of last year, for some more insanely hypnotising droste effects… and read how they produced it too!’-brave-bulging-buoyant-clairvoyants-by-oneinthree/

  2. Like it – they used MathMap too. Not sure why they needed to develop a ‘proprietary method’ – Gimp is scriptable so they could just have written a little Perl script to do the batch processing.

    The link to that vid doesn’t work. Where can I see it?? (youtube one not available in UK)

  3. ah yeah it seems to have gone now…
    here it is working…

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