Created By: Wheezy on July 14, 2009
Troped

Russian Doll Image

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Do We Have This One??

An image that contains infinite replicas of itself. Related to the fractal.

Due to the "you just have to see it" nature of these images, I'm having a hard time describing them. So I'll give you an example which many of us have probably seen before:

A character is watching TV. If you look a bit closer at the screen, you see that he's watching...

Himself watching TV. Watching himself watching TV. Watching himself watching TV. Watching himself...

Seen It a Million Times.

See also Dream Within a Dream, and Russian Doll World, which is this trope on a cosmic level.


Examples

Live-Action TV
  • The first episode of The IT Crowd opens with one of these: A shot of Mr. Raynholm at his desk, with an identical scene on a picture hung on the wall. The camera then pans out to reveal another identical scene. When he starts talking, we see that we were actually looking at the picture on the real Mr. Raynholm's wall.
  • During Steve Martin's "I'm Me" song on Saturday Night Live, he notices a monitor showing live footage of him, thus creating this effect. "It's me, watching me, watching me!"

Comics
  • In comics it's referred to as an infinity cover.
  • An issue of Runaways has Victor, a cyborg who was (unknowingly) being used to spy on the team, discover the TV screen where the camera in his eyes feeds back to. The result is himself, watching himself watching himself, watching himself watching himself watching himself, watching himself watching himself watching...
  • In the Justice League episode "Wildcards" one shot has the Joker gesturing at a TV screen, which show him on Television in the same shot, and so on.
  • The cover of the Doom Patrol comic "The Painting that ate Paris" also has such a shot.
  • Perry Bible Fellowship example

Film
  • In Spaceballs, the titular bad guys watch the Spaceballs video tape to find out where the heroes are. Hilarity Ensues when they get to the exact point in the tape that they are watching.
  • Happens in The Matrix Reloaded with the architect.

Western Animation
  • Used in the Venture Brothers when #21 and Dean are caught spying on the Murderous Moppets.
  • The Darkwing Duck episode "A Brush With Oblivion" had one of these as Honker Muddlefoot's art project.

Music
  • The last scene of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Ava Adore" video.

Video Games
  • Portal may be the first game to make it possible to walk (or fall) through one of these.

Real Life
  • Stand two mirrors opposite each other. Observe.
  • You can also achieve this by hooking a video camera up to a TV, then filming the TV.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • July 8, 2009
    Raw Power
    The M Atrix Reloaded with the chitect.
  • July 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Thanks.
  • July 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Lots of covers of comic books and magazines.
  • July 8, 2009
    Wheezy
    Any more specific examples or criticisms? Should I launch this?

    BTW: I wrote this, but like my last YKTTW, it was from a library computer and I forgot to log in.
  • July 8, 2009
    random surfer
    In comics it's referred to as an infinity cover.
  • July 8, 2009
    Wulf
    @Wheezy- you can edit the OP to put your name on it. Just click the pencil and hit enter changes.

    I'd wait for a few more examples and maybe a different name before launch.
  • July 8, 2009
    BlackMageJ
    Not exactly the same thing, because it's merely a huge number of different images rather than an infinite regression of the same image, but there's [[www.infinitecat.com The Infinite Cat Project]]. It started with a photo of a cat looking at a photo of a cat on a computer screen. Then someone sent a photo of their cat looking at that photo. Then they got a photo of a cat looking at the photo of the cat looking at... and so on. There are now over 16000 cats, each looking at all of the previous cats.
  • July 8, 2009
    Saintheart
    Something like this in the U2 music video to "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me": the lead singer removes his face to reveal Mephisto's face, who then removes his face to reveal the lead singer's face, who then removes his face to ... So Yeah.
  • July 10, 2009
    Wheezy
    Building on Random Surfer's suggestion: Do you think "Infinity Image" would work, or is it too vague?
  • July 11, 2009
    xenosays
    This was used in Escape from the Planet of the Apes to explain time travel. Ugh...

    Also used in Ursei Yatura: Beautiful Dreamer where one of the characters constantly falls.
  • July 11, 2009
    Ryusui
    The Darkwing Duck episode "A Brush With Oblivion" had one of these as Honker Muddlefoot's art project.

    Perhaps Recursive Image or Recursive Art would be a good name?
  • July 12, 2009
    Wheezy
    I typed Ryusui's suggestions into Google and came up with some interesting things: According to the Other Wiki, this is officially known as "The Droste Effect."
  • July 12, 2009
    dotchan
    In Spaceballs, the titular bad guys watch the Spaceballs video tape to find out where the heroes are. Hilarity Ensues when they get to the exact point in the tape that they are watching.
  • July 12, 2009
    Evalana
    It's been years since I've seen The Mouse and His Child, but wasn't there an image of a dog holding a can of dogfood that had a picture of the same dog holding a can of dogfood on the label, and so on and so forth, in it somewhere? I seem to remember that pretty distinctly.
  • July 12, 2009
    Wheezy
    I think all we need now is a name.
  • July 12, 2009
    Evalana
    I looked up The Mouse and His Child, and I propose The Last Visible Dog for the title, since there was a play with that title (based on the can of dog food with the image I described two posts up) in the book (and probably the movie).
  • July 12, 2009
    TB Tabby
    During Steve Martin's "I'm Me" song on Saturday Night Live, he notices a monitor showing live footage of him, thus creating this effect. "It's me, watching me, watching me!"
  • July 12, 2009
    Ronka87
    Comics: An issue of Runaways has Victor, a cyborg who was (unknowingly) being used to spy on the team, discover the TV screen where the camera in his eyes feeds back to. The result is himself, watching himself watching himself, watching himself watching himself watching himself, watching himself watching himself watching...
  • July 12, 2009
    Wheezy
    Related to the Dream Within A Dream.

    BTW: I think The Last Visible Dog is too obscure, and says nothing about the actual trope, but thanks for your contribution.
  • July 12, 2009
    Saintheart
  • July 12, 2009
    Wheezy
    I'm leaning towards "Recursive Image," although I'm still considering "Droste Effect."
  • July 13, 2009
    Wheezy
    How does "Droste Image" sound?
  • July 13, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    I've always heard these things being referred to as infinity shots.

    Used in the Venture Brothers when #21 and Dean are caught spying on the Murderous Moppets.
  • July 13, 2009
    neeeeny
    The Perry Bible Fellowship webcomic uses this in the <A HREF="">Freaking Vortex</A> strip
  • July 13, 2009
    Arivne
    Perry Bible Fellowship example

    Edited by Arivne to change a URL into a link. OP was neeeeny.
  • July 13, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Canibus said in a freestyle: "Every word I utter for hip-hop lovers, will reflect forever like two mirrors facing each other."
  • July 13, 2009
    Pumpkingrrl
    The last scene of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Ava Adore" video.
  • July 13, 2009
    FireWalkWithCheese
    • In the Justice League episode "Wildcards" one shot has the Joker gesturing at a TV screen, which show him on Television in the same shot, and so on.

    The cover of the Doom Patrol comic "The Painting that ate Paris" also has such a shot.
  • July 13, 2009
    Wheezy
    Thanks for all the examples. As soon as we can agree on a name, I can launch this.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=tfnpv1ogu6dv5p3ibn9yqfup