Artist and culture jammer, Ivan Cash, of San Francisco recently took it upon himself to have people look up and question the present moment. This was done in the form of official looking city signs he made and installed around several public parks in SF. The signs state: “No-Tech Zone; No cellphones, tablets, laptops, or smart devices permitted; Violators subject to $300 fine.” On any given afternoon in any of the numerous city parks in San Francisco, you can find city residents congregating and enjoying themselves in the open air. While activities and types of people may vary between the parks, one thing links them together – though persons may be in the outdoors relaxing with friends or having a solitary moment, almost always at some point the phone comes out and they begin the downward stare.
And this is by no means only happening in SF! What is the point of being outside and at the park if you are only staring down at your phone?! Cash’s urban intervention prompts this question. Discussions and debates on the SF tech-boom, gentrification, and housing crisis aside, this piece is simply a friendly reminder. About his project, he states: “We designed and installed “No-Tech Zone’ signs in parks across San Francisco, encouraging people to question the role technology plays in our lives and environment.” That role, here in SF and beyond, is perhaps something that we need to have a little more of a philosophical conversation with. Cash, himself, is no outsider to the tech industry, having worked with Facebook and Airbnb, and so the question comes from a humble yet critical place. Technology can be a great and wonderful the, but at what cost?