While most anatomical structures tend to serve discrete and specialized ends, the hand, because of its plasticity, is designed to serve a wide range of needs. In a certain position, with only slight shifts in tension or direction, it can be used for very different purposes and can even express very different meanings. You will see this subtle shift in use and meaning in the drawings in this chapter. After you have explored the various ways the hand can function as a tool or an instrument as shown here, go on to other exercises of your own and explore new possibilities of the hand as an instrument.
The simple position of palm open, with fingers taut and extended, is one in which the hand can function in a number of actions, depending on the energy, strength, or tension used, if the hand is brought down in side position, as shown in the upper drawing, driving the force against the little finger side, it acts as a chopper.
When palm is front, as in the lower drawing, the hand becomes a slapping or batting instrument, as in a handball game. If the same position is turned palm upward, the hand becomes a spatula or a wedge to pr>' something open with extended fingers. And if the palm is rotated downward, it can pat gently or spank with force. If the wrist tension is cased, the palm can wave back and forth like a fan.
Two examples of the hand shown w jih fingers closed and only the index finger extended convey different meanings depending on attitude and projection. In the top sketch, if the finger points downward on some yielding surface, then briskly tums in a twisting motion, the hand becomes an awl or an auger. If the hand is still, fingertip slowly tapped, it signifies decision or command.
The hand in the bottom drawing, finger projected outward, becomes a pointer. If this finger has force behind it, the jabbing gesture makes the hand into a stiletto or knife point. But slowdown the motion and rotate the finger hesitatingly and repetitively toward the palm, and it becomes a probing finger, searching, palpating.
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