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Escher and the Droste effect


Speaker: Professor Hendrik Lenstra, Jr., University of California, Berkeley and Universiteit Leiden
Location: 2205 Haring
Start time: Mon, May 19 2003, 2:10PM

In 1956, the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher made an unusual lithograph with the title `Print Gallery'. It shows a young man viewing a print in an exhibition gallery. Amongst the buildings depicted on the print, he sees paradoxically the very same gallery that he is standing in. A lot is known about the way in which Escher made his lithograph. It is not nearly as well known that it contains a hidden `Droste effect', or infinite repetition; but this is brought to light by a mathematical analysis of the studies used by Escher.

On the basis of this discovery, a team of mathematicians at Leiden produced a series of hallucinating computer animations. These show, among others, what happens inside the mysterious spot in the middle of the lithograph that Escher left blank.

Mathematical background of this talk can be found in an article by the speaker and his collaborators, "Artful Mathematics: The Heritage of M. C. Escher," appeared in the Notices of AMS .

Special Public Lecture sponsored by the Department of Mathematics.