Someone Finally Invented Screen-Blocking Glasses
Ivan Cash cleverly critiques large corporations — and they love him for it
There’s a running gag in The Circle, Dave Eggers’s 2013 Silicon Valley satire, in which more monitors are added to a person’s desk as they rise in the ranks at a very FacebookGoogleAppleTwitter-esque tech giant. At one point, the protagonist’s desk balances nine screens, each beckoning, summoning, and passive-aggressively demanding her acknowledgment.
Eggers was onto something. In 2018, screens are everywhere. Screens are on our desks at work, of course, but they’re also flashing information on the subway, at bus stops, cycling ads on restroom walls, in elevators, displaying cooking segments in doctors’ waiting rooms, broadcasting the NBA at restaurants, and news in the backs of taxis. They’re streaming at us from the gas pump, the elliptical machine, and the airplane seat back. They’re in our pockets and on our wrists.
It’s gotten so bad, the New York Times recently reported, that parents in Silicon Valley won’t even let their kids near a screen, charging their nannies with enforcing rules around the very technology they themselves create.
Ivan Cash, a 32-year-old creative director, filmmaker, and artist living in Oakland, California, thinks he has a solution: He and his collaborators, including head of product Scott Blew, have created IRL Glasses, tinted shades capable of blocking most screens, turning the unceasing flow of images into a set of blissful blank slates. A Kickstarter campaign launched in October with the modest goal of raising $25,000 to create a beta version, which boast an ’80s-style design, inspired by John Carpenter’s They Live. As of this writing, IRL Glasses has attracted $140,920 in backing. (No word yet on whether they’re planning a kids’ version.)
Cash, who has positioned himself somewhere in a Venn diagram that includes culture jammer, internet era ad man, and viral huckster, cites Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Adbusters, and other provocateurs as inspirations. His previous projects include Snail Mail My Email, which crowdsourced and delivered hand drawn mail art based on people’s emails; Selfless Portraits, wherein people’s Facebook avatars were…