From Carol Kino’s interview with sculptor Tony Cragg in The Art Economist (no story link – you have to subscribe to read the piece):
Tony Cragg: Duchamp did a very valuable and important thing in introducing manmade objects into the world of art. That provided us with an enormous vocabulary of new materials but, more importantly, it made us realize that we do not have to change the object if we can change the terms around it. That made the world into two different kinds of specifies, with every object having two facets, one being its physical qualities, and the other being its metaphysical qualities. It’s not the soup can on the shelf, but the the soup can we all have in our heads.
So when you’re asking how does a sculptor change the world, that’s what we’re doing. Whether you change the material or not, you’re changing things in your head. You give people new forms and suddenly they see the world differently.
This is a different version of the increasingly popular job description of the artist — making the unseen seen — but I like it. Valuable communication, whatever the medium, changes or adds to our perspective.