The Six-Fingered Hand – An Interview With Artist DanCoyote Antonelli

by Alphaville Herald on 03/08/06 at 5:41 pm

by Fiend Ludwig (with photos by DanCoyote Antonelli)


“Do you want a table and chair?” he asked me. It was earlier in the year and DanCoyote (DC) Antonelli was preparing the first showing of his art in Second Life, part of Rubaiyat Shatner’s “The Real” at the Ars Virtua New Media Centre, in the Dowden sim. A huge, complex, beautiful piece of his work casually leaned against a window. Another hovered over the grass nearby. We had just been introduced.

Now, several months later, I caught up with DanCoyote again as he was preparing for a show at the New World Gallery in Second Life, to run throughout August and September (Contact curator Vlad Bjornson for details). The show also has a tie-in to the ZeroOne Arts and Technology Festival at the San Jose Arts Museum.

I asked DC how he came to be an artist working in the digital realm. “I started working with kids at risk, for a nonprofit in San Francisco. A friend of mine saw a show of my RL art [DC was already an 'analog' artist working in a range of media] and he asked me to teach his class; in return he would teach me the Macintosh. This was 1987 or so. I used an application called Video Paint and then I got Photoshop 1.0.”

“My intent in working in pixels was always to make fine art. However, shown on the web in a web browser it looks like a graphic, like a file. Have you noticed that the art world doesn’t have any new movements? That is because it has institutionally ignored the digital realm as it matured and grew beyond graphics. In SL the work is transformed into the fine art I always intended it to be. Through the use of scale and architecture I can plan for the viewing conditions. I have been making work for SL for a decade before it existed.”


DC describes his work as hyperformalism, a term he lays claim to having invented. (For more, check out some of DC’s essays.) I asked him to elaborate. “Hyperformalism invented itself. It is simply my name for a phenomena naturally occurring on the web. A singularity of creators connecting with tools. Much of my work is conceptual, and I love language, so I call myself a neologist. I make up words to fill in spaces that aren’t taken by existing words,” he tells me “It is important to note that some of my terms encompass a lot of history. For instance Formalism is an art history construct to describe work that features line, shape, color: form.”

Suddenly it dawns on me. It’s form-alism, not formal-ism. “Yes”, he replies, “it’s not about tuxedos and good manners.”

DC’s emblem in SL is the black six-fingered hand. He explains: “The 6th finger symbolizes humanity’s intervention into the metaverse. It is the mouse cursor and scripting. It is the human adaptation to the metaverse. Used with the black hand it ties artists together over 16,000 years of history. Cave artists in Lasceau France painted their hand and stamped it on the rock. ‘I am here. I made this!’”

Indeed he is. Indeed he did.

DanCoyote’s floating, multi-level show at The Bluffs

Leave a Reply