A couple of years ago, I listened to a friend give a lecture at a local art museum. I remember him talking about the fact that the average viewer spends about eight seconds in front of any given piece of art before moving on to the next. This allows no time to really engage the piece, to work for its subtext, its meaning, its importance. This really allows for nothing more than “I like the colors” before moving on, to say nothing of line, texture, balance.
Paintings and poems share that malady, I think: they are deceptively quick to take in if you approach them with the intention of consuming them instead of engaging them. Neither comes at first blush. They have to be pondered and allowed to sink in.
I discovered today that cartoons follow this principle, as well. We’ve all encountered cartoons in a paper or magazine that give us pause, make us stop with an “Oh!” at the unexpected succinctness with which they illumine a cultural issue. I think, though, that many cartoons need to be pondered, given time to sink in. I don’t think that all of their layers of meaning appear with merely a surface glance.
At least, I found that to be the case with this cartoon from this week’s New Yorker. I hope you find it as illustrative of our cultural climate as I did.
And, just for laughs, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too.
What do you think? When is the last time you engaged a cartoon?
Photo Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/krearchiv/