Headbob lizard interaction, site document, Joshua Tree National Park, 2019
Fence lizards use head-bob and push-up displays to communicate across distances. Like human language, their species-specific movements are socially learned, make use of syntax, and exhibit regional dialects. Lizards respond to anything that mimics their movement patterns, including bobbing fingers. Dr. Martins use videos, mirrors, lizard robots, and her own bobbing finger to decode the fence lizard’s gestural language.
For Every Word Was Once an Animal, hand blown mirrored glass “rocks” and silicone robotic hands programmed with lizard movement patterns were distributed in the landscape to evoke lizard displays. In the museum gallery space, robotic hands “spoke” to one another across the gallery.