Allow this to be the millionth time this year that someone suggested that there may be too much tech pervading San Francisco. So, when street signs started popping up explaining cell-phone use was banned in the area last month in city parks and green spaces, some people took them seriously. Or at least raised an eyebrow. (The law can befuddle in San Francisco. You can parade around the street fully naked, but can't sit on the sidewalk fully clothed.)

Now, the artist Ivan Cash has fessed up to creating the signs--which read, "No tech-zone. No cell phones, tablets, laptops, or smart devices permitted. Violators subject to $300 fine"--and orchestrating their midnight installations.

Cash told the Guardian that he's looking to illuminate how devices can come to dominate one's daily routine. Especially in the middle of a park, an ostensible respite from urban chaos--an opportunity to engage one's ciliary muscles to gaze into the distance, rather than a high-contrast close-up screen. "The tech industry employs my friends, creates products and services I love, and helps pay my bills," he said. "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."

Clearly, Cash, who is a former Facebook employee who still earns a living in part by contracts with several startups, is not trying to ruffle any feathers. But he is trying to make a cultural comment, however obvious.

He says he chose the parks as sign locations due to the city's recent free public Wi-Fi campaign, which is seeking to turn parks and plazas into laptop-ready meeting spots. "By appropriating an authoritative tone, parkgoers are forced to seriously consider the sign's motives and implications," he said. Then again, he's assuming you're not already too deep into an Instagram scroll-through to even notice his shiny new signs.

But he's not taking them too seriously. He told the Guardian: "I hope the signs put a smile on people's faces."

Published on: Oct 12, 2015