So, well timed for my new essay, “Time Frames… or Not”, on why panels don’t equal moments (and time does not equal space), Tim Godek posts this excellent and simple example of a temporal paradox. (I’m not reposting it here because the file size is rather large, so go look yourself!)
Since the three “moments” of the event happen across the same background, a “temporal map” reading would force the foreground figure to be hovering in front of the background, or, the background shifting behind the character. I think that we’re forced to reconcile that the person is doing an action that occupies a singular space (i.e. sitting and thinking) while the background does not remain consistent behind that static foreground space. So, either fore/background is shifting or it creates a paradox of temporal progression where we parse the foreground figure in his own “conceptual space” separate from the background.
This also relates back to the “positive/active” versus “negative/passive” elements I talked about in my “A Visual Lexicon” paper. I think what makes this strip work without a “shifting” interpretation is that the Tim character is Active in the sequence compared with the Passive background. So, our focus of attention is held on him rather than on the consistency and oddness of the background.
In either reading, there is something in the content that illicits a “not normal” reading (i.e. moving when sitting vs. static yet background conflict). If anyone finds more of these temporal paradox type examples, definitely send them my way.