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What's the Story Behind These Super-Creepy Door Hangers in the Mission and Pac Heights?

It's not mass surveillance—it's art.

The artwork in the field

The artwork in the field 

 

Thousands of San Franciscans in the Mission and Pacific Heights stumbled across an odd hanger on their front doors recently. On the glossy, mirror-like paper a stark note read: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”

Yikes. But it wasn’t a mass police action—it was art.

You wouldn’t know that at first. There was no identification on the door hanger—no url or signature. Just good advice for the digital world. “It’s like the guy who made a bad dick joke at a conference, and then a woman tweeted about it, and he got fired and she got fired,” says local artist Brian Singer, who was behind the door hanger project. “The reaction can outweigh the crime.”

Singer had thousands of the door hangers printed and distributed throughout two city neighborhoods, hiring a contracting company that usually passes out menus and ads for house cleaning services. “They’ll do anything,” he shrugs.

The project isn’t the first time that Singer has used his art to provoke. In one of his recent projects, Twitspotting, he took pictures of people using phones in stop and go traffic. The reaction to that project inspired the door hangers: “There was some negativity—even a couple of death threats. My mom was reading it and saying, ‘this is awful.’” Singer gave her some common advice—don’t read the comments section. But that experience led him to start thinking about ways to engage with the all-too common scenario of digital punishments that don’t fit the real life offense.

“I was curious about the reactions,” says Singer. “Those are two very different neighborhoods. There was a lot of interest from the Mission, and less from Pac Heights, but this pertains to anyone from the super wealthy to those struggling to get by.” So, what’s a better way to go about it? Singer says that as an artist, his job is to raise questions without necessarily answering them. But if he had to unpack his meaning, he says we’ve met the enemy, and it is us. “We’re doing this to ourselves. We’re bringing each other down.”

 

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