Kunibert Fritz: Unity in Duality

ground floor - 17 September 2022 - 19 March 2023

Unity in duality

The most well-known geometric sign that embodies “unity in duality” is probably the yin and yang symbol. It symbolizes that two forces are always in harmony with each other. The material world is made up of opposites, day/night, +/–, order/chaos, becoming/passing away, etc. We are taught duality from childhood. Without silence there is no sound. That makes sense to us. But is it really that simple?

Basically, we explore the world in two different ways, which we can call the outside view and the inner view. Historically, we can equate duality with the physical outside world/science, while unity corresponds to an inner world/belief. A clear separation between the observer and the observed, between the subject and the object, has generally prevailed in order to grasp the structure of reality. But physics has taught us better for over 100 years. Because it shows that the inside view is at least as relevant in order to have an effect. Scientific proof of this is e.g., the placebo effect.

In Buddhism, the notion of unity is described by non-duality. For as soon as we speak of unity, we look at it from the outside and are momentarily separated from it. Unity thus means the merging of subject and object. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, modern physics has realized that the classic cause-and-effect principle is not able to explain events and findings down to the core of the atom. Newtonian physics helps us with the calculations to send a space shuttle to Mars, but it’s limited when it comes to what’s happening inside matter. In general, it becomes clear that when trying to explain matter, even the language proves to be a “barrier”. To put it in the words of nuclear physicist Peter Dürr: “When trying to dissect the material world down to the smallest particle, in the end there is nothing left that reminds us of matter. At the end there is no longer any substance, only shape, symmetry, relationship, connectedness, processes. There is no more matter, nothing, only vibration, which cannot be grasped.”

And that’s not all. It seems that everything is connected to each other. Spatial separation exists only in our conception of the material world. At the same time, our consciousness has a direct influence on the behaviour of the particles (cf. double-slit experiment). Sociologically, these insights seem to be slowly transforming the point of view in the world population. People are increasingly asking themselves: Isn’t the world unique? Aren’t we “one” species of humans living on “one” planet Earth? If there was a Big Bang, weren’t we all originally one?

So how can we imagine this “intangible” inner unity? Peter Dürr called it “acts”, derived from the words action and actuality. An approach to “actual-reality” can be found in geometry. Observable processes can be described by mathematics. In nature, the harmony of numbers is revealed. The golden ratio can be found in both Leonardo’s depiction of the Vitruvian Man and the Fibonacci code. The Fibonacci series of numbers (0+1=1; 1+1=2; 1+2=3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8 etc.) not only describes the growth of a rabbit population, it can also refer to the growth of plants and to weather events. Plutarch wrote that, “Plato said that God geometrizes continuously” and Carl Friedrich Gauss summed it up with: “God calculates”. Already in pre-Christian times there was a belief in a “sacred geometry”. The descriptions of visual experiences with the effect of the mind expanding substance (such as DMT) is also interesting. Today, just as in rituals 4-8 thousand years ago, similar geometric imagery is revealed to a wide variety of people.

These geometries are reflected in the works of Kunibert Fritz. In Fibonacci sequences they can be  concretely represented and counted as a series of differently coloured rectangles. Fritz decided early on to ignore the circle and focus on a single shape. He has been squaring the square for 65 years. Sometimes the square is at the centre of the work, sometimes it is the micro-element from which a large sign or a law develops. However, this does not prove to be a “restriction”, on the contrary, the canon of his work contains astonishing variety.

Various series have been created over the years, all of which have one thing in common. They are always laid out in a square grid. Fritz sums it up with his picture “unfinished” in 1966. He shows the grid, the basis of his works, as an independent image. It is the coordinate system that connects all his works. His matrix, so to speak.

Like a universe of his ideas, he fills these with geometries. Sometimes with mathematical order, sometimes with rhythms and sometimes with random chaos, which he has been creating randomly with a computer since the early 1990s. In this context, the story that he drew his city drawings of Frankfurt am Main on squared paper as a schoolboy seems like a premonition of what he has been “orchestrating” for us since the 1960s. This is how Eugen Gomringer describes it in a catalogue text, pointing to the musical element of Kunibert Fritz’s works.

The theme of “unity in duality” can also be found in the various series of juxtapositions of black and white.

The number four corresponds to the square. Hans-Peter Riese describes the square as a democratic form because it has equal sides and equal angles. The idea of seeing colours and forms as visualized parables of social processes occupied various artists in the 1960s. Klaus Staudt writes about an exhibition: “The number four symbolizes our life, our time, our world. Four weeks make up a month, four seasons refer to a year, we live in four directions and four winds determine our weather. Our spatial thinking relates to four dimensions and we comprehend images from four aspects: composition, aesthetics, content and technique.” Victor Vasarely is also concerned with the connection between nature, art, geometry and reality. He believed the relationship between art and nature can be interpreted in such a way that the laws of nature from a physical point of view should determine the design of the works and the activity of the artist and reflected upon as a theme or problem. Early on Vasarely stepped out of the two-dimensional plane surface by integrating space and time. For example, when two printed transparent discs form a sculpture, the movement of the viewer changes the work of art, connecting subject and object. Vasarely dreamed that an artwork should occupy the viewer’s entire field of vision. This is now possible with VR glasses. The age of digitization also brings with it the realization that everything can be recreated on the basis of 0 and 1.

 Kunibert Fritz has always been a watch collector, a design and technology fan. Now he dares to step into a whole new dimension of his art. A work from 1966 has been updated and technically developed, similar to the musical form of a “remix”. Fritz uses both the classic form of the screen and a transformation of the series of images into a virtual space that can be experienced with 3D glasses and is available as an NFT. Here you have the opportunity to blend the four resulting images into one another and fly through them at the same time.

To look at the individual squares of the painting central pervasion enlarged in order to get to the essence of the picture would contradict the effect of the picture. The whole thing is more than the sum of its parts. It only works as a unit. The processes/“progressions” of Fritz´s paintings go beyond the edge of the picture. The claim to uniqueness within the boundaries of the image is extinguished. The exciting thing about the pervasion lies in the invisible, in the space in between, this is where the vibration occurs, which creates a kind of field effect. At the same time, the eye can wander over parts of the image, focusing on something and blending the rest of the image into an undifferentiated background. This is comparable to the state of matter. On the whole, the particle is present in space as a square and at the same time as an oscillation/wave. If I observe it more closely and enlarge it more and more, measure it, so to speak, it becomes a particle square, which materializes, but then the vibration and the meaning of the whole disappears.

In virtual reality, the viewer is immersed in a fractal 3D sculpture. This experience changes the reception of the total work of art and the pictures physically exhibited in the gallery. The experience of art in space and time is expanded. We move consciousness into a fifth dimension, as we can now perceive four dimensions of the artwork. The viewer must always be in a higher dimension than the object in order to recognize it. For example, we can only see the two dimensions of a surface from the perspective of the third dimension (space). Metaphorically speaking, man must first fly to the moon to see what a beautiful, unique planet he lives on. Today we know that man destroys his habitat by destroying nature. A rethinking of each individual is necessary. We need to understand that everything belongs together, that we are one with nature and that there is a connection. We have to admit that the utopias and belief in progress of the post-WWII period have not improved the environment.

The fractal structure of the sculpture in virtual reality makes infinity more physically perceptible. All of these factors have a contemplative effect on the viewer in Fritz’s new works and connect him with art. At its core, reality is an idea = vibrational information that works both emotionally and rationally. To approach a higher level of reality, to penetrate reality, a meditative state is required. Perhaps the imagery of Kunibert Fritz’s central pervasion can bring us a little closer to this?

text by J.D. Fritz 

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