per”Either-or” or “and” is the question of the goal: separation and/or connection. This is about one, simplicity, two, infinite: individual, “hen-egg theme”, human, technology, information, knowledge, black, white, transparency, light, sun, colour, relationship, connection, duality, co-existence, meaning.
Either Or: +/- PlusMinus; -/+ MinusPlus
And: +++ Plus Plus = Win-Win-Win
To the illustration
Left: The illustration shows yellow inside. Due to the surrounding colour, the yellow changes its appearance – although its inner properties (composition of the colour) are identical. To be able to determine which of the two colour arrangements around the yellow is to be preferred there are two possibilities:
Approach a): both illustrations are equally important – they merely communicate certain values in a different way, from which a different colour sequence follows. Approach b) The representational goal is known, so that an evaluation of the content of the colour arrangement can take place.
Right: Blue is deep like the sea and often unreachable high like a summer sky. Yellow centres – it stands for centre – like the sun itself, which outshines everything, shines. Red is the earth sun – the fire in the night, which is sun-like and yet quite different. Yellow and red give light – yellow naturally, self-regulating and red when kindled and ignited by means of external impulse. Blue – air cools summer heat. Blue – water extinguishes fire. Yellow is the centre of “high-radiating” blue.
Duality = Either Or, +/-, -/+:
In numbers: 1+1=2 / 1-1=0 / 2*0 =0
Approach: binary = black and white = without connection, side by side, separate, singularity = absence, lack
Examples: Black/White (grey), Light/Dark – Day (without clouds)-Night (without stars), Woman/Man (without love), Inside/Outside (surface/surface, without connection), Content/Effect (independent), Result/Process (without connection).
Functionality: Duality means that there are at least two parts whose forces are opposite. Duality functions according to the principle “opposites attract”. The achievement of balance is based on the forces of attraction of the opposites. The best possible result is equilibrium (= zero), which usually demands losses due to density, friction, stress (directed pressure). If one side wants to grow faster, stronger or beyond itself, external resources are needed. Otherwise, all additional energy required is drawn from within the other side, because energy always strives for balance and the sum is always one hundred percent. However, from an external point of view, these energy transfers and processes of energy transformation often only become visible when large parts or the entire system have already collapsed.
Conclusion Nature: In nature, this approach works because opposites either remain in equilibrium or the entire system adapts correspondingly over long periods of time (evolution). Otherwise, a new beginning is forced by nature itself as a result of decay or collapse, for example an undercut mountain that collapses due to unpredictable vibrations or forest fires that occur as a result of too long a drought and spread rapidly due to wind. The natural disasters recur in each case until transformation processes are complete and the system has renewed itself naturally because nature has learned to adapt as a whole – no matter how long it takes to complete such transformation. While natural imbalances (natural disasters) often require a long time for natural and sustainable regeneration, humans use technology and its control options to drive a highly accelerated and rapid elimination of visible damage. Locating and clarifying causes of damage, as well as checking resources at the source, are separate actions that would require additional and purposeful control.
Conclusion Design: Pixels and parallel systems are not circuits. Without circuits, natural life cycles are impossible to be created. To create energy flow and connection, binary and dual systems always require an actively controlled action and external impulses in order to regulate on/off and connection/disconnection functions as well as energy flow. Such control mechanisms require both energy and knowledge to timely and accurately programme and operate if, when and how actions and reactions interact. In design, pixels, lines as well as black and white contrasts are widely used. A multitude of pixels is visually assembled into lines that depict linear relationships and areas. In the graphic representation of a circle, it is not apparent from the outside whether it is a real circuit or circle, consisting of dots and a continuous line, or a circular image, consisting of pixels that appear like steps when zooming in. In each case the impression is that the circle is round. Therefore, it is often forgotten to check whether all parts are really connected to enable energy circulation and flow. In the case of un-connected (disrupted) cycles, it is necessary to create and to restore connection as a condition of power supply and generating light by digital, technical or other non-natural means.
Co-existence = and /+
In numbers: 1+1= ∞
Approach: Poly = Multi = Colour = Connection = Energy = Order = Resources.
Examples: Ying+Yang, night sky with stars, summer day with clouds (light, water, rain), woman+man (trust, children), inside+outside (spaces), cause+effect (relationship, resonance), result+process (development).
Functionality: In this equation, one plus one equals infinity. Natural cycles are always self-regulating and self-restoring. Energy cycles and life cycles consist of a natural sequence of energy supply and consumption as well as connections and disconnections. Free spaces are used to build up energy depots. Self-regulation and constant transformation enable the formation of resources and stocks because the overall system works without disruption in constant flow. Therefore, frequent regeneration and degeneration are avoided from the outset.
Conclusion Nature: An example of such natural “poly”-approach is sunlight, which contains all colours of the rainbow and whose radiance stands for infinity (cycle), versatility, diversity, joy, energy supply, growth and life itself. Another example is the process of natural reproduction. When egg and sperm meet, energy is generated to such extend that the impulse for new life arises from it = woman+man (natural fertilisation) = child with known origin, family history, defined place of origin. For the healthy and natural growth of the child, nutrients are just as necessary as energy supply in the form of love, trust, joy, a welcoming feeling and wellbeing.
Conclusion Design: Artificial light is created by combining red, green and blue light waves (RGB). Light sources are transparent vessels in which these primary colours are mixed in an additive process (additive colour synthesis) and emerge as light. All other colour moods can be created from this basic mixture. Black cannot be created – it confirms the absence of all light, which why it is not a colour. A non-natural combination of all primary colours produces at best neutral grey, which is very close to the colour of elephant skin. When primary colours are blended, the sensation of light is created. We perceive the effect as radiance, brilliance, infinity (cycle), versatility, variety, joy, energy and life – and thus as an image of nature. Design is the creative process that, in imitation of nature, connects colours and creates images, objects, surfaces as well as spaces from polychrome multitude of dots (natural, artistic approach) or pixels (digital, technical approach). The reason how and why we feel connected, comfortable and as a whole is because vision (ability of transforming light into colour information) connects us with nature and the environment.
Connection / Sense / Separation
Thinking and acting in connection simply makes more sense than accelerating processes of isolation.
The word individual comes from the Latin individuus, which means indivisible [Greek atomon]. The question of “either – or / or / and” is therefore also a question of individuation (process of becoming oneself) unity, uniformity, (in)divisibility and – above all – relationality, because the latter decides how genuine and strong the forces of attraction and bonding of individual forces are and whether a connection arises naturally, correctly and full of meaning or is brought about artificially. In the case of artificial connection, the questions “Who is responsible?” and “How do we know who and what belongs where?” remain open. In these questions, it is quite crucial whether it is an “either-or” and/or an “and” consideration. That is why we need to be concerned about awareness, relationship and relationality and, most of all, about an increasing need for connection. In reality, the sense of disruption and separation seem to be more present, which is leading to a culture of increasing alienation, mechanisation and isolation.
Duality / Co-existence
Increasing isolation leads more and more to loneliness. The question of meaning in life is becoming louder and louder and is – fortunately – gaining presence. At present, however, it is not yet entirely clear how nature, human beings and AI (artificial intelligence) fit and work together in a triad. The search for orientation is growing and leads to new questions: What are arguments for continuing with everything as before in order to avoid change? Do we really need courage to change or is it rather a question of clear, transparent decision-making foundations that facilitate the ability to act? What about ease in life? Why do so many people think very rapidly about separation and new beginnings rathen than considering connection, preservation and sustainable life cycles? Does living alone and in solitude really have enough meaning? What gives life its sense and meaning? and Why don’t we finally reflect on prioritising sensory perception again – perhaps extended by digital means?
Therefore, the issue of “either-or” or “and” is first about understanding duality and co-existence as well as unity and wholeness. Unity suggests that it is about the number one. However, unity can also mean wholeness and presuppose that there are such strong inner forces of attraction and commonality between two or more parts that several parts act as a unity in wholeness because they are related to each other and strengthen each other, grow with each other and are in constant exchange both themselves and with each other – just like people in and with their environment. Nature has set up our world as a “dialogue” so that there is always a relationship. The basic relationship, which is essential for life, is established by means of sensory perception, because it is precisely this what distinguishes all forms of life from technology and differentiates life energy in the form of health and wellbeing from technical forms of energy supply, such as electricity or data.
Sun = sense = colour
Human viability is tied to food and sensory perception, just as photosynthesis processes are the root of plant growth. The sun provides the energy for all natural life on earth. Sunlight is absorbed by the body in the form of electromagnetic impulses via our eyes and translated into colour information, which is then distributed in the body with the help of hormones. Sensory perception is the main distinguishing feature between natural (human) and non-natural (technological) life forms. Thus, sense is the essential link between human beings and the environment by providing the impulse of receiving and generating information and life energy. In the case of technology, a form of technical energy supply is providing the impulses, for example electricity, data, money and/or other information particles. Knowledge, for example, represents a linked application in which different parts of information are joint to evoke the feeling of wisdom. Much of what was previously a purely human achievement is increasingly given to and presumably being taken over by artificial intelligence. Whether this AI-generated knowledge also makes sense for humans remains in question.
The more natural and stronger one’s inner relationship (receptivity and resonance) to colours is, the more colour-intensive the outer appearance will be. A natural connection between inside and outside always arises when energy exchange takes place and thus energy can flow. Sun, light, love and sense, for example, are a natural connection between people and their environment, which is enabled by natural sensory perception. The more colourless and grey the outer appearance is, the less natural content – (connection with nature and to the sun) – occurs. Black stands for the absorption of all light and thus, on the one hand, for the complete absence of humanity, nature and a sense of natural life. On the other hand, black is an expression of very high material energy in its various forms, such as data, electricity and raw materials.
The question of “either-or” or “and” is thus also a question of natural colour intensity, as we experience it in the connection of sun-light-environment-humanity. The alienation from colour as well as an increasing intensification of black in design is highly disturbing. Black is often associated with luxury, but this suggests a purely material content, because the greatest luxury for life is life itself – and thus health and wellbeing, expressed through pure light, transparency and all the colours of the rainbow.
Easter again and again! The “hen-and-egg question”: egg yolk, egg white “and/or” or “and” egg black?
Could an all-natural black hen lay an all-natural black egg? If so, would we eat an all-black egg with a black shell, egg-black and again egg-black (there would be no differentiation between egg white and egg yolk) and use it in many different dishes of all cultures? The little yellow sun (egg yolk = the yellow of the egg) in white corona (egg white, egg white) or eggs with naturally green or earthy shells would therefore no longer exist. The whole egg would simply be black. The mixture of black with other colour tones always leads to grey tones and darkening – because sunlight is no longer present. The food would look accordingly and the question is: Does a black egg create appetite and make you want more? And/or would a black egg be luxury? In any case, it would stand for a kind of colour diet, because all colours are absorbed. The example of eggs makes it clear how important colour is. Try going without colour for a week or for a lifetime! If the natural colour (sun) is missing, authenticity and meaning in life are also missing because the connection to sun, light and natural nature is lost. Without eggs, it is also difficult for natural fertilisation to take place.
Design and photos: Dr. Petra Klemm (dentist, www.dentaya.de)
If you then ask yourself why designed environments are becoming more and more black and white and colourless, this article has already been worthwhile! You will observe and look more actively and consciously into your surroundings and pay more attention to colour, because good and real life ALWAYS takes place in colour!
If you want to know more about colours, the rainbow, transparency and white, you can find the corresponding articles in last year’s Colour Talks at: