Lizard Language

Fence lizard head-bob decoder bandana, silkscreened ink on cloth, 22.5” x 21.5”, 2018

Besides scents, fence lizards use head-bob and push-up displays to communicate with one another across distances. These movements involve culturally learned patterns of movements, exhibit regional dialects, and contain syntax. In the process of working with lizards in the field, Martins discovered that fence lizards will respond with species-identification displays to finger bob movements that correctly mimic their head-bob patterns. This hikers bandana playfully pairs Martins notational system for the lizard’s gestural language with a human gestural language - American Sign Language. The blue, black, and white bandanas, worn around the neck to mimic the lizard’s neck patches, function as a handy reference for humans wishing to attempt interspecies communication with a lizard.

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