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|There have been many other analogs in other arts: John Cage's 4'33" during which the audience participates in a musical "silence" leaps immediately to mind. In the present work, this painting relies upon the written text for much of its import, and as such is as much about reading and interpreting as it is about assimilating visual information. Which is both like and unlike haiga, as we shall discover.
The degrees of abstraction utilized in all of these examples is considerable. None attempts a formal realism. All rely upon the audience's williingness to grant "artistic license" to the illustrator so that the point might be made the more quickly. We do not pour over the drawings, or even the painting, as we might over a painting which intends to realize its full intent through strictly visual means. all of these rely upon our translating the events into sense withing ourselves, unlike, say, a Rothko, where the intent is clearly non-informational, at least on the verbal and cognitive level.
|Here we are invited to dwell in these emotional waves of color, and no "interpretation" on a verbal or rational level is needed, or sought. Compare this (admittedly extreme) example to the other work we've looked at. In the cartoon, there is a predominance of interest in the visual aspect; in fact, we could do away without the text altogether (as the artist did when the cartoon was later anthologized). It functions rather as a caption, a tag with which to handle it. In the comic strip there is a more equal emphasis, with the verbal element carrying forward the narrative and the drawing adding richness and more often humor and sexuality to what would otherwise be rather dry and insipid dialogue (in fact, it is the justaposition of these elements that make for the particular appeal of this strip). In the poster, even the convention of depth is subjected to a powerful stylization, and the text is an explanation of the image as a commentary, quite outside its visual interest in its own right. The exhortation would seem rather sterile without the power of the graphic, but the graphic holds interest on its own. so again, the verbal element could easily be excised in this case, but is not because the painter needed to make an intellectual point quite beyond the visual information already supplied. In the Magritte, the text sets up the conventions of how the picture is to be understood; that is, as an intellectual conundrum. And in the Apollinaire, the one informs the other, while not being totally dependent upon it.
We might further consider the combined art and text used in advertising: "It's the real thing" accompanied by a swirl of color, suggestive of a wave, is a good instance. These often attain a level of artistic interest, but it is clear that their intent is not this beauty, or at least not primarily, but rather, an appeal for quite other purposes. I have not, as a result, included such work here.
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