A Banner is a Textile

A banner is a textile. A cloth of a chosen shape and color to denote an announcement, an alliance, an allegiance, a territory, an event, or an offering.

A banner is a building block of a web page; a container of space located at the top. Commonalities of the web banner include being bold and branded, long and lean to mirror the horizontal rule of screen space. A banner is a beginning.

So which came first: the blue of the banner, or the blue of the jean?

I ask because Facebook is branded by a blue banner of nearly equal parts cyan and magenta. And at some point in time, Mark Zuckerberg made the decision to wear, almost exclusively, an unassuming ensemble of blue jeans, sneakers, and a heather gray crewneck T-shirt. His dress is an embodied banner of the ideal: the working millennial man of affluent white, start-up culture. He is a Dorian Gray portrait of the precocious undergraduate white American man who need never concern himself with what he looks like or how he smells. Because the seriousness of Mark Zuckerberg’s content (his substance as a person, his value, his worth) is never called into question by the superfluity of his appearance—sadly so often the case for the rest of us. Occasionally his heather gray crewneck T-shirt is warmed by a charcoal gray hoodie, or smartened up with a black blazer, or traded temporarily for a white collared shirt and blue necktie. These are acceptable deviations.

In fact, it should reassure us to know that the elimination of choice in attire reduces his cognitive load each morning. Meaning: Mark Zuckerberg can allocate more of his neural processing to us. We, his subjects of the empire of Facebook. On the platform for the relational construction of the self, he is our banner. The blue and gray of his dress, and the millennial-pink whiteness of his person announce, align, allege, territorialize, eventuate, and offer himself, Mark Zuckerberg, as the default, as everyone’s friend, as a relatable, universalized container to hold the endlessly differentiated potentialities of our lives as individuals. [1] We, the content he contains.

Every moment of Mark Zuckerberg’s life is an event, and he encourages all of us to eventify each moment of our own lives. We are all friends, here. Nothing is TMI for the feed—from elaborate brunches to DIY remedies for athlete’s foot to Facebook Live streaming ICE Raids on our neighbors to Bar Mitzvah bloopers to toupée Trump memes to babies and bumps to marking ourselves safe in localized weather calamities, terrorist attacks, and geological events to knee selfies browning on a beach to training our smartphone cameras on the uniformed blue blurred police who shoot to death unarmed black men in the passenger seat of a car, in the grass, on the asphalt, who twist the bodies of barefoot black girls in bikinis, who post knee selfies browning on a boat who celebrate anniversaries and share DIY remedies for athlete’s foot.

A recent occasion was his visit to the Montana Glacier National Park. [2] Frozen in early millennial fashion, the figure of Mark Zuckerberg was framed and photographed in relation to the sublime yet ecologically fragile glacial landscape. Among the photographs, one stands out to me, in which he slouches casually on denimed knee and buries his hand affectionately into the thick, heather gray and white fur of a blue-eyed border collie »bark ranger.« Receding lines of snow punctuate the green foothills of the bald layer-cake peak behind them. A uniformed ranger supervises this human-canine encounter with leash in hand and a biodegradable green poop bag tied at his wrist. The specter of Joseph Beuys haunts the arrangement. I begin to hear the slightly unstable, analog voice of Beuys declaring, »I like America, and America likes me. I like America, and America likes me.« I am not sure if this voice is coming from the dog, the Mark Zuckerberg, or the mountain?

Perhaps it comes from the ranger, whose uniform so closely resembles the iconic outfit of the figure of Beuys: work slacks, heavy leather boots, collared shirt, cargo pockets on the breast. It is the working man’s attire of the previous century. Plus a felted wool hat. The face of Joseph Beuys is not so much millennial-pink as it is mid-century tallow, the yellow-sounding substance of slightly rendered fat. Felt and fat. A world of black and white with edges of khaki, charcoal, and brown.

The function of Beuys’s uniform was less an effort to reduce cognitive load than it was to announce him as an antihero. It was Beuys, after all, who first liberated us. He declared us (everyone) all artists. The non-artists were no longer left unmarked outside the circle. We, the everyone, became his content. We, the social sculpture. Beuys, the iconic banner of our liberation. And the artists, Beuys liberated from the laps of the bourgeoisie.

Coyotes. Not hounds.

I imagine myself dressing in the uniforms of Mark Zuckerberg, Joseph Beuys, and Steve Jobs. Each influential figure has promoted individualism and difference, while embodying and enforcing sameness and consistency. I thought I would photograph myself replicating a gestural drag of these powerful men.

nenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenenene [3]

Although I have heard them singing, I have never had an encounter with a coyote uncontained by glass. The glass of my car windows as coyotes loped through Los Angeles at night; the glass diorama of the nature conservancy; the glass of my house windows. I have not tried to imagine myself coyote.

But I have imagined myself mineral.

Who is to say that stones are exempt from metabolism and metaphysics? This mineralization requires observing and inhabiting one’s body throughout a medium-length human lifetime, as it undergoes metabolic transformation in a dialectic with its predetermined environment: patriarchy.

Patriarchy is a social trauma that does and undoes all of us. Everyone. And the individual acts of violence that infinitely compose patriarchy affect us all, reverberating across each and every relationship. Patriarchy is the platform for the relational construction of the self.

(The sexual coercion of your mother, for example, inevitably alters the way she relates to her partners, to herself, to the protection or chaos in which she enfolds her children. The rape of your sister changes her personality, and thus, how she relates to you. The distance between you and your father is haunted by his childhood incest. The past violence done to your partner is a constant negotiation in the terms of your present relationship.)

Seen as individual acts, these are in fact all modules that assemble within the container of patriarchy, under the banners of nation states, colonial empires, domestic labor, white supremacy. They alter the fundamental composition of our interrelation over the course of generational time.

Mineral deposits of patriarchy are, however, subject to geological transformation. Atmosphere is locked in rock in tiny bubbles. It can be released in a rupture, a high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, a smelting, a melting. Or an eruption. Minerals can be swept up into the atmosphere to travel great distances. Just as they can accrete into mountains, be melted and folded into crusts, and thrown by shifting tectonics into high altitudes.

Interventions and subductions into the geological time of patriarchy are led by an alliance of transfeminist [4] geologists who are monitoring this collective mineralization. They are attuning to our metabolic transformations. Communications arrive through this human-mineral network, reporting a shared, mutual desire to erupt. A simultaneous, molten renewal from the erosions and hollows of patriarchy.

In contrast to iconic singularity promoted by our patriarchal antiheros, I have designed an adaptable banner or costume for the network to wear. For we are an intersectional alliance, not a unity either of ego or of identity. Volcanic eruptions of atmospherized crystals are worn to denote this announcement, this alliance, this allegiance, these shared territories, these events, these offerings. To don these wearable banners is to shed the identity of artist or non-artist, and instead to shapeshift into the imaginary explosion of geological revolution. A banner is a beginning.

Everyone frets about how incapable we are of visualizing the future. The future. Because the present is terrifying. What are the alternatives? And yet, how might we find a way to form this visualized future, if we cannot find each other now? This is also the practice of culture as a collective project. Because the future is dependent upon friendship and mutual reliance. There is no horizon without ground. Alliances of friendship outlast and overcome any force of social or environmental trauma.

First we must find each other, and be in this being together. We must cohere. In alliance, we move together. We mineralize.


  1. Jump Up I just can’t seem to bring myself to simply call him, Mark.
  2. Jump Up Sarah Emerson: »Yikes, This Is Bad Press: Internal Emails Show Federal Employees Asking Why a Climate Scientist’s Meeting With Mark Zuckerberg Was Canceled.« in: Vice Motherboard, September 13, 2017. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/yw3m9m/yikes-this-is-bad-press-internal-emails-show-federal-employees-asking-why-a-climate-scientists-meeting-with-mark-zuckerberg-was-canceled-usgs-doi
  3. Jump Up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOsW5KUY36k&feature=youtu.be&t=13m53s
  4. Jump Up Emi Koyama: The Transfeminist Manifesto, 2001. http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/tfmanifesto.pdf