What's the term for this kind of picture?
May 22, 2019 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for the term used to describe an image that uses the details of a scene to create a second image. For example, a painting of a forest where the details of the trees, shadow, landscape, etc, create the image of someone's face. I would provide examples, but I am at a loss as to what to search for.
posted by cirgue to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Like this?
posted by humph at 6:41 AM on May 22, 2019

I found these by searching for "Foreground Background Images Illusion" (without the quotes). Is this the sort of stuff you're looking for?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:44 AM on May 22, 2019

Does a Google image search for figure ground get you anything like what you're after?

Quite fond of the Bev Doolittle horses on this page.
posted by flabdablet at 6:45 AM on May 22, 2019

Or more like this, where getting closer reveals more?
posted by teremala at 6:46 AM on May 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

I should have put the search term: silhouette forest face.

teremala, that is the most disturbing thing I've seen in a long time, I can't stop looking!
posted by humph at 6:50 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Archimboldo's vegetable faces? Or is that off the mark?
posted by LizardBreath at 6:56 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Like this thing? An ambiguous figure illusion?
posted by Don Pepino at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think this might be what you’re talking about. The Wikipedia page uses the term “double image.”
posted by brook horse at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2019 [3 favorites]

Don Pepino beat me to it! :) “Multiple meaning illusion” also gets some good results on Google.
posted by brook horse at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also possibly of interest: camouflage art
posted by flabdablet at 7:27 AM on May 22, 2019

I've most commonly seen this called "Double Exposures"
posted by matrixclown at 7:37 AM on May 22, 2019

I get a lot of Google Images by searching "daliesque" (but most of them are Dali)
posted by achrise at 8:05 AM on May 22, 2019

Response by poster: I'm not looking for double exposures, as those are just two images overlaid over one another. The vegetable faces are nearer the mark. I'm looking for things where the original image creates a second image out of seemingly incidental details of the first. "All is vanity" is exactly the kind of image I mean.
posted by cirgue at 8:10 AM on May 22, 2019

Pareiodolia A search with this term included might be helpful.
posted by effluvia at 8:30 AM on May 22, 2019

Is this another example?

Lincoln in Dalivision
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 8:52 AM on May 22, 2019

This illusions index calls All is Vanity an "Ambiguous Figure"
The All Is Vanity Ambiguous Figure belongs in a large class of illusions where a two-dimensional figure, or three-dimensional object can be seen in two or more sharply distinct ways. Other ambiguous figures (also known as ‘reversible figures’ or ‘bistable figures’) can be searched for in this index. There are also auditory ambiguous stimuli.
and describes the illusory effect as a "Gestalt switch."

The skull seems to be a popular option for this type of illusion.
delice silencieux
Artist Tom French calls them Duality Paintings
There's another skull made from two astronauts that's floating around on t-shirt sites, but I can't find an attribution anywhere.
posted by carsonb at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2019

Best answer: Oleg Shuplyak
posted by carsonb at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Great, keep them coming! Oleg Shuplyak is kind of what I was thinking, though does anyone have examples that a) aren't faces, and b) aren't as illusion-y? I want to find examples where the background is clear and makes sense by itself, but the secondary image is also strongly suggested though not as explicit. Like, the image suggests the shape/some detail of the object as a symbolic or thematic reference, as opposed to a true optical illusion.
posted by cirgue at 11:13 AM on May 22, 2019

Bev Doolittle's art often does this. Her website calls it "the art of camoflage or "camoflage artist" so those might be terms to search. Her secondary images are often explicit, but I think there are some paintings where it's more subtle.
The Sentinel, The Spirit Takes Flight,
posted by belladonna at 11:48 AM on May 22, 2019

Hmm. The poster for the film Premonition is what came to my mind, if you're looking for more examples. I'm not certain what it's called though.
posted by valoius at 1:34 PM on May 22, 2019

Best answer: I know what it's called in Danish, but both google translate and my old-style dictionaries gave me "puzzle picture" for that, but an image search for that just turns up jigsaw puzzles. The Danish word, fikserbillede will give you some, but it's such a small language, you won't get a lot.
posted by mumimor at 1:39 PM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Like the works of Ron Gonsalves, maybe?
posted by wintersweet at 2:57 PM on May 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Salvador Dali used this device quite often. Double images appear in many of his paintings.
posted by ovvl at 5:24 PM on May 22, 2019

Type hidden pictures into Google. You will get responses similar to the ones in children's magazines, e.g., Highlights.
posted by Cranberry at 12:59 AM on May 23, 2019

Best answer: Personally I'd call it double images. The British painter Kit Williams is also known for this type of art. (Sometimes it's just images hidden in the detail, sometimes genuine double images.) There are also some lovely examples in the videogame The Witness.
posted by snarfois at 3:09 AM on May 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

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