José Antonio Vega Macotela

Born in Mexico City, José Antonio Vega Macotela studied at its Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, and at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. His work is centred on research into the representational possibilities of labor, time, and energy in specific social contexts. He has exhibited in important international venues such as Manifesta 9 (Genk, Limburg, Belgium), the New Museum Triennial (New York), the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial, Prospect 3 (New Orleans), as well as at MACBA (Barcelona) and Witte de Witt (Rotterdam).

José Antonio Vega Silva

José Antonio Vega Silva was born in Apaseo el Alto, Guanajuato, Mexico. He received a Masters Degree and a Ph.D. in Education from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico City. As a social activist, he has worked with people to develop actions centred on new ways of living and living together. A poet, as well as a writer of short stories and fables, he has published three books and has fifteen more pending publication. He is currently developing different projects involving science, art, and philosophy.

A project for Atlántica by José Antonio Vega Macotela. Text Jose Antonio Vega Silva.

Tools are created as extensions of our own body. When we use them, we increase our ability to perform the tasks through which we are able to transform nature for our benefit. They possess what we could call a “use potential,” one that varies over time and thus gives them a specific lifespan. Their potential is greatest when they are new and declines with use until they eventually become unserviceable. The longer the time, the greater is their use and the more diminished is their potential.

The sickle and the peasant combine together harmoniously to reap an armful of wheat; the blacksmith and the hammer bond to forge a horseshoe on the anvil; when tightening a bolt, the mechanic and the wrench become one, and the same happens with the hammer and chisel when working stone. In all of these instances the potential of the hand tool as a whole is increased, and we concur with Spinoza when he declares that an increase in potential engenders joy.

Tools are made up of a set of complex relations of movement and rest among the particles of metal of which they are composed, metals that have been created from virtually nothing within the core of stars and that have lain in the interior of the earth, like embryos, until they are extracted by the Caesarean process of metallurgy.

Put to work, they are subject to friction, nicks, and all kinds of deterioration, which produces a decline in strength as they shed their constituent particles and in consequence lose their ability to carry out relationships with the objects that they affect and that in turn sculpt them.

Mined tools are transformed with the passage of time into sculptures; in other words, they acquire what we might call a “poetic potential,” one that reaches its zenith and permanence when their use potential has been completely exhausted.

Spinoza urges us to accept that all things possess a soul, and that body and soul are strictly one and the same thing when viewed as the two different attributes of one Being: Extension and Thought. The soul of a tool is shaped by all of the internal tensions that strive to persevere in its Being, and that soul is transformed when the use modifies its internal relations.

The bodies of tools, in their own way, store the images of the hands that use them and of the objects that affect them and modify their constituent relations as particles are lost. The “poetic potential” consists in the reintegration of the particles of the Being from which they arose. Their soul also changes when they lack the totality of their particles; their internal tensions are transformed, producing a variation in the sounds that inhere in the structure of the metal. They are particles of dust, body and soul returning to the Being; flowing like a river.

Skip to content