As of Monday, April 27th, Berliners need to cover their mouth and nose when riding on trains, buses and trams to avoid the spread of the novel Coronavirus. While wearing a mask is the easiest thing to do, there’s other ways to comply with the regulation, such as wearing a scarf.
The Berlin-based art collective Plastique Fantastique adopted a much more creative approach: a transparent spherical helmet that looks like a prop from a low-budget sci-fi movie from the 50s. It’s called the iSphere, and it’s easy and inexpensive to make. Plastique Fantastique even published a quick-and-dirty tutorial to make your own starting from a couple of transparent plastic half-spheres available in any well stocked arts and crafts store. The object is fully open source and anyone can use it or modify as they please. Plastic Fantastique even suggests some customizations to the basic version they made for their public performance in Berlin, such as filter and air-vent, a microphone and speaker or even a snorkel, to easy the breathing inside the sphere.
“The iconic design (of the iSphere) is inspired by the science fiction comics of the 50s and the creations of the utopian movements of the 60s”, Plastique Fantastique explain on their website. “It is pop, and it belongs to everybody. The iSphere is a funny and serious object that stimulates how to approach this exceptional situation”.
What’s more important is not the object in itself, of course, but the commentary it’s conveying about the many different ways we’re dealing with an exceptional and never-before-seen situation that is affecting our social life, our ability to touch and get close to each other, and the way we live in our cities and our larger communities. “This virus is changing our relation to each other and affecting our perception of reality," say Yena Young and Marco Canevacci, founders of Plastique Fantastique. “In this time of lockdown, we wonder about the mutation of our social life and the effects of the deprivation of physical touch."
- Plastique Fantastique