A brick can be made from clay, as can a sculpture by Picasso. A spoon can be carved from wood, as can a baroque Madonna. A shopping list can be penned on a blank sheet of paper, as can a million dollar work of art. Material, that neutral matter ready for the craftsman to breath her vision into. But our ancestors may have seen it differently.
For generations of shamans, alchemists, and humans alike, each stone, each piece of wood — all objects were animated by a unique spirit, possessed with individual characteristics. Matter was alive just as plants or any other creature of God. In the twentieth century, artists like Joseph Beuys saw grease, honey, and copper as embodying powerful properties, accumulators of energy and memories.