Maybe that is what art is — embodied meaning. But that’s just a beginning and by itself I’m not sure will get us very far.
The question becomes: what is the nature of embodiment? How does it work? How does it happen? And is there a range to the extent of the embodiment? How do we gauge it? Can we speak of depth in relation to embodiment — superficial embodiment and deep embodiment?
I think we see in Duchamp one pole of the activity of embodiment: Embodiment enacted out of a clear and straightforward decision of mind; “I choose to place meaning here –“ as if giving stage directions, or throwing a ball or simply placing something on a table. “I put meaning here, in this object…Now, it is so…” Magical thinking. And there is an aspect of thought that is the seed/kernel to all creativity. Our thoughts do indeed shape our world.
But the charge (as in “electric charge”) of embodiment in the Duchampian pole is weak. The object itself is not saturated with embodiment; this embodiment sort of floats over the object, with a weak energetic connection and the charge runs back to the mind with an idea more than the sense of the object. One doesn’t remain with the object as embodying a felt energetic presence but rather the object serves as a trigger for a mental reference and the energy is stored in a kind of communal philosophical disembodied project that we share and shape through discourse.
But there is no embodied intimacy. Like in a kiss or a touch. There is no sensitivity of meeting, of body, heart, mind and spirit. For that to occur a vastly different kind of embodiment must take place. An extraordinary example might be “Woman Bathing” by Rembrandt.
The question of alchemy enters, of turning lead into gold.