Kensy Cooperrider: University of California San DiegoThe human pointing gesture may be viewed from many angles. On a
neutral description, it is an intentional movement, often of the hand, by which one person tries to direct another’s attention—it is, in short, a bodily command to look. But this bland definition is only a start. Pointing may also be seen as a semiotic primitive, a philosophical puzzle, a communicative workhorse, a protean universal, a social tool, a widespread taboo, a partner of language, a part of language, a fixture of art, a graphical icon, a cognitive prop, a developmental milestone, a diagnostic window, a cross-species litmus test, and an evolutionary stepping-stone. These fifteen ways of looking highlight the diverse dimensions of one our most unassuming, ubiquitous behaviors. Pointing appears so widely, and in so many guises, because of what it embodies: a distinctively human preoccupation with attention.