Shia LaBeouf’s anti-Trump art installation resurfaced Wednesday, kicking off round eight of a global “capture the flag” game.
LaBeouf launched “He Will Not Divide Us,” an “art installation” designed to foment resistance to President Donald Trump, on Inauguration Day in 2017. Initially, the installation was a live-stream camera placed outside the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City, and visitors were expected to look into the lens and announce, “He will not divide us!” in reference to Trump’s agenda.
The Museum of the Moving Image dropped the installation after several altercations — some involving LaBeouf himself — took place on the live-stream, leaving the museum questioning its liability in LaBeouf’s project.
Days later, the project relocated to the El Rey Theater, Albuquerque, where it was similarly co-opted by forces at odds with LaBeouf’s apparent message of “unity.”
Fearing the worst, LaBeouf began hiding the “He Will Not Divide Us” project, focusing his live-stream camera not on passersby making off-the-cuff “resistance” statements against the president, but instead on a simple white flag emblazoned with the words, “He Will Not Divide Us.”
Instead of setting off a wave of warm feelings, LaBeouf unintentionally set off a game of capture-the-flag as internet sleuths on 4Chan and Reddit studied clues — including cloud and weather patterns, flight paths, maps, and even recorded sound — to locate the live-stream camera and capture LaBeouf’s flag.
The Internet went to great lengths.
“When LaBeouf posted pictures of him in a rental cabin, 4chan users matched wood patterns to the precise location of the rental cabin. Then 4chan users were able to determine its more general location using the weather, plane routes, and star patterns,” the Daily Caller reported. “Then someone drove around in a car, honking the car’s horn, and that person was notified if the horn was getting louder or quieter in the live-stream.”
Eventually, they found the flag in Tennessee and replaced it with a red “Make America Great Again” flag in the middle of the night.
Undaunted, LaBeouf moved the flag overseas, contending that “events have shown that America is simply not safe enough for this artwork to exist.” It appeared first to the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool, UK (where it lasted all of 24 hours), then to “le lieu unique” in France, then to the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, Poland.
At some point, LaBeouf and his partners in the art installation became so obsessed with outsmarting their trolls that they moved into a remote cabin in Lapland, Finland. No surprise, they found him there, too, by mobilizing local 4chan and 8chan denizens to locate LaBeouf’s cabin in the relatively small — 34,000 square mile — Lapland region.
Defeated, LaBeouf retired the flag….until late Tuesday, just in time for the mid-term elections.
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) October 30, 2018
It’s not clear whether the internet is undertaking the same operation to capture LaBeouf’s flag, but social media users are watching the live-stream with bated breath, anticipating the flag’s inevitable demise.