‹ Back to Writings

February 24, 2006

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.



Contact Jordan Wolfson

Send a note directly to the artist.