Public transport passengers wearing the iSphere (courtesy Plastique Fantastique)

It’s easy to focus on ways in which the future we were promised has failed to arrive (I refer, of course, to the lack of flying cars). Sometimes, these disappointments can distract us from those moments when the future looks exactly like we were promised. By this, I mean that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated some hardcore PPE options beginning to hit the mass market, and they look basically like Star Trek wardrobe items. And I am here for it (inasmuch as I am here for anything that does not involve leaving my house very much).

There’s this sweet option from VYZR Tech that “is a functional outer layer that shields your personal space and filters your air.” I guess we have different definitions of the word “functional,” but I suppose it beats being hooked up to a ventilator. It’s a type of PPE known as a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) and typically used in healthcare settings, but let’s get this thing to a clamoring public so we can all feel as safe as Elroy Jetson on our way to space school!

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There’s also the MicroClimate AIR, which trends in the direction of space helmet — or as I like to think of it, the “Mr. Freeze.”

But you can always count on artists to get in on the fun with aplomb. For style and purity, top marks go to the iSphere by art collective Plastique Fantastique, an art group which “samples the performative possibilities of urban environments.” The project is directed by Marco Canevacci and Yena Young, including collaborators Marco BarottiMarkus WüsteChristoph Tettenborn, Carsten Reith, Sabrina Pützer, and many other participants.

(courtesy Plastique Fantastique)

“The Coronavirus is changing our relation to each other and affecting our perception of reality,” reads a statement on the art group’s website. “In this time of lockdown, we wonder about the mutation of our social life and the effects of the deprivation of physical touch. iSphere represents the art installations of Plastique Fantastique on a smaller scale and the perspective into the post-pandemic world, beyond 2020.” The group’s website includes tutorials to construct your personal iSphere, so all of us can enjoy the disease apocalypse in style, comfort, and even a touch of whimsy.

iSphere variations (courtesy Plastique Fantastique)

Here in the darkest headline, we enjoy this futuristic headwear because it’s important to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Or to place the roses up against the protective shield covering your face and try to remember what life was like when we could just breathe the open air with the relative confidence that it wouldn’t immediately kill us.

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Sarah Rose Sharp

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit —...