Artist to San Francisco: Get Off Your F*cking Phone

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The signs were first spotted in Alamo Square last month. Photo / Hoodline

Almost everyone I know is guilty of it: You're enjoying a beautiful day off, perhaps on a blanket in a park with a book and a beer while friends toss a Frisbee nearby, feeling happy and fulfilled with the sounds of being outdoors on a Saturday -- when all of a sudden you think, "Maaayyybe I'll just check Instagram real quick and see what everyone else I know is up to."

To describe it as a thought, even, ascribes too much consciousness, too much intent to the act. No, for most of us, checking our phones is reflexive at this point -- a sort of modern day touch-of-the-rosary-beads, only in this case you're counting on Facebook, Twitter or Tinder for a sense of security, as opposed to any religious deity.

Well, artist Ivan Cash has a message for you: Cut it out.

Cash, a New York native, revealed himself today as the person behind the mysterious "No Tech Zone" signs that have been popping up in San Francisco parks in recent weeks, threatening a $300 fine if the decree was violated.


The artist -- who seems far from anti-tech-boom in general, having worked for Facebook and Airbnb -- posted the signs as an "effort to spark a conversation about the role of technology and mobile devices, and the amount of time individuals spend with their eyes looking at a screen," according to an interview published today in The Guardian

Cash is careful, in said interview, to not come off as "hating" on the tech industry. He is also selling 100 special edition versions of his signs at $100 a pop, in order "to help recoup time and costs associated with this project."

Would you buy one? Does instantly monetizing a work of art allegedly designed to spark social commentary weaken its message? Do the signs actually spark thought or conversation in the first place? Who's bullsh*tting whom, San Francisco??

Be sure to comment on our Facebook or reply to KQED Pop on Twitter, preferably via mobile app, to weigh in.