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Creator: M. C. Escher
(full name: Maurits Cornelius Escher) was a Dutch graphical artist whose art is known for being both mathematical in nature and brain
. Some common elements in his prints include:
- Structures or situations in which each individual element is plausible, but which become impossible when taken as a whole.
- Tessellations — that is, patterns which could extend over the entire plane if repeated indefinitely.
Many works will reference some of these constructions he invented or popularized — some common choices are Relativity
, a room with various staircases and landings using different directions of gravity
, Drawing Hands
, in which two hands are each drawing the other into existence
, and Ascending and Descending
, a staircase which goes up or down forever
the Penrose Stairway
(Escher also happens to be a close contemporary of René Magritte
, whose works also mess with the viewers' heads, though not in the same way.)
A long list of Escher in popular culture can be found in this page
Oh, just to mention, he's also "Weird Al" Yankovic
's favorite MC
Often works through Perspective Magic
. A lot of Alien Geometries
are based on his work. For more information on his techniques, see Graphical Perspective
References to his works:
Anime and Manga
- A commercial promo for Syfy has a lot of weird stuff going on inside a house, with one of them being a football pass among three people in a setting based on that painting.
- An episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei concludes with a fake show-within-a-show involving the character Kaere as a Hot Teacher. Since she's teaching geometry, she's shown strolling through several famous Escher works.
- The first time we meet the Godhand in Berserk, they're in a Relativity-esque dimension filled with multidirectional staircases and a shot that resembles Another World.
- A strip in an early issue of Marvel's Epic Illustrated is about a demonic architect boasting to a lady friend about the new house he's designed, which is finally revealed to be based on a mixture of Relativity and other works. The strip concludes with a dedication "to MCE" in the shape of Escher's own logo.
- Mount Olympus in George Perez' run of the Post-Crisis Wonder Woman is based on this.
- Labyrinth: The Goblin King's final chamber was clearly based on this, and Sarah has a print of Relativity in her room.
- Protector by Larry Niven: Jack Brennan uses gravity generators to build Relativity inside his mad scientist-style castle.
- In Half World, by Hiromi Goto, Melanie's mother keeps Escher prints on the wall. Later, when Melanie goes Down the Rabbit Hole, to the magical realm Half World, the staircases go both up and down like Relativity.
- Warehouse 13 has the "Escher Vault," which is a room constructed like Relativity, which is constantly changing at high speed. You need special equipment of one kind or another to get through it. According to Mrs Frederic, at least one Warehouse Agent has gotten lost in the room because they forgot to wear safety goggles when venturing inside and hasn't been seen since.
- The Haunted Mansion at Disney World now includes a "Relativity" room, complete with ghostly footprints appearing on the steps, usually at extreme angles to the direction of gravity.
Web ComicsWeb OriginalWestern Animation
- Ipsen's Castle in Final Fantasy IX seems to be based on this. Described as an architectural marvel, many rooms are upside down and in one room the visitor has to slide up a pole. While in Ipsen's Castle, weapons will do more damage the lower their attack power is.
- A choice adventure in the Kingdom of Loathing - more specifically, the Haunted Art Gallery - starts here, and all directions seem to be as if this work was providing directions (up, down, or sideways).
- In King's Quest VII, you have to get through a room shaped like this in Archduke Fifi's manor.
- Echochrome is a puzzle game based on the works of M. C. Escher. The geometries are as weird as you might expect.
- To elaborate, in the game, you are allowed to "cheat" the laws of perspective because only the camera angle's perspective counts as "real". If there is a beam covering up a hole, the hole then ceases to exist. This is a necessary skill to guide the main characternote to safety.
To other worksFilm
- Christopher Nolan was inspired by Escher in Inception, which has two sets of Ascending and Descending (and hence Penrose stairs)-inspired stairs: Arthur shows a fairly large one to Ariadne during her training and later makes good with an ass-kicking use of a second one in the second dream level's hotel.
- Escher's work Eye is seen in Donnie Darko, as a poster on Donnie's wall.
- In the Discworld novel Moving Pictures, the layout of the Library of Unseen University is described as "a topographical nightmare, [...] that would make M. C. Escher go for a good lie down, or possibly sideways." In Guards! Guards!, old-fashioned bookshops are said to be looking like "as though they were designed by M.C. Escher on a bad day".
- Gödel, Escher, Bach includes (along with many other references to Escher, as one might infer from the title) a dialogue in which the characters find themselves inside "Convex and Concave" and "Reptiles".
- In the Young Adult novel Before I Fall, it's revealed that the school bike Anna Cartullo likes M. C. Escher. Sam gives her a book of his drawings on her final day.
- James Gurney's Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara features a university structure with an impossible staircase based on Escher's work known as the Scholar's Stairway; the "Pen and Rose Fraternity" that Gurney invents as the scholars associated with the stairway is a further homage to Roger Penrose and his son.
MusicNewspaper ComicsShort Film
- The Doctor Who serial Castrovalva, involving a world of Escher-like recursion, is titled in homage to one of his earlier (non-paradoxical) works.
- The animated short Hallucii features Penrose stairs in an urban environment.
- The Bridge is the game that resulted when M.C. Escher met Isaac Newton and learned programming.
- Illusions was based on elements of several Escher prints.
- Dantes Inferno has a room evocative of "Other World".
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess features the Oocca, which resemble the human-bird... things in Another World.
- In AdventureQuest Worlds, the town of Mobius is the victim of the First Lord of Chaos: Escherion. The entire quest chain to confront him is filled with M.C. Escher references, fitting of a Lord of Chaos.
- In Chrono Cross, a sojourn through a place that appears to be outside reality, or something, features a tower with an endless staircase like that in Ascending and Descending.
- In Quest for Glory I, when you navigate the Brigand warlock's maze, one of the comments you make is that M.C. Escher would love this place. The maze in question is somewhat reminiscent of Relativity, but also of other Escher drawings.
- The 78th level of Lemmings is titled "Tribute to M.C. Escher". The main solution to the level involves building a confusing zigzag stairway.
- Monument Valley has perspective and impossible paths as a major element of game play.
- Atari Games' Crystal Castles has one level with a looped staircase based on Ascending And Descending.
- The SCP Foundation references the Penrose staircase of Ascending and Descending when a living drawing is asked to walk it. She thinks it's neat, and asks why more stairways aren't like this.
- In the Furcadia contest dream "Puzzle Mansion", the stairway works like this.