Photo: Ivan Cash/Vimeo
In 2013, thanks to a $600,000 gift from Google, San Francisco began offering free WiFi service in 32 public spaces, including parks, plazas and recreation centers. While the network has provided the city with many benefits (like fewer lost tourists, the ability to check email on the go, find an open parking spot, etc.), some believe it has caused San Franciscans to become more tech-obsessed than ever.
Tired of seeing people scrolling through Instagram instead of enjoying the outdoors, artist and filmmaker Ivan Cash created “No Tech Zone” signs that, at first glance, appeared to be totally legitimate. With help from friends, Cash put up the fake signs in several parks, including Alamo, Duboce and Dolores. The notices warned against the use of cellphones, tablets, laptops or smartphone devices, with a hefty $300 fine for violators.
The signs began to appear in city parks last month, but most were removed soonthereafter. Cash, a former Facebook employee, asserts the “PSA” is not an attack on the tech industry. “I see this as a broader issue, one facing the global community as more and more people across the world own smartphones. It just so happens to be heightened in San Francisco,” Cash told The Guardian.
The film Cash created, also called “No Tech Zone,” depicts a scenic park with a couple using a selfie sticks, a group of friends staring off into their own tiny screens and a man eating lunch alone (albeit away from his desk), using his phone as a distraction from an equally miserable salad. “Aren’t parks supposed to a natural escape from the modern world?” the text reads. “Maybe we just need a little reminder…”
Cash is selling one hundred 18”x24” metal signs to help cover the costs of the publicity stunt. They’re signed by the artist and retail for $100 each. Cash does not condone illegal installation of the signs, however, it is perfectly acceptable to post them near the dinner table to deter guests from texting their way through a meal.