What if you could talk to a stranger on the other side of the world as if you were in the same room together? Learn about the origins of Shared Studios and portals. The documentary follows middle schoolers as they step into the Richmond Portal and connect with two muralists in Mexico City. "Passion Projects" is a docuseries about turning passion into purpose and its impact on the world.
On a blustery Friday morning, Carolyn Rapkievian wrapped herself in a coat and gauzy scarf and walked a mile from her office to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She climbed to the second floor, stepped into a 16-foot-long, gold-painted shipping container, and settled onto a short wooden stool. It was the day after her 60th birthday.
Thousands of commuters buzz by it; dozens more see it from the Starbucks line less than 100 feet away. But only a few enter this gold box in the middle of downtown Los Angeles' Grand Park. "That was amazing," Bernadine Harris said as she stepped out of the shipping container covered in gold paint. Moments before, she was speaking live to an Iraqi refugee standing in front of her — on a large video screen.
A Portal at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza connects to Havana, Herat, and Tehran.
Nas Daily visited the Portal at the United Nations, hosted by the UN Live Museum, made possible by the Ikea Foundaton.
Chris Wallace visits a Portal in College Park at the University of Maryland and speaks to a stranger in Mexico City.
George Stephanopolous reports on global Portals.
When the Harvard- and Yale Law-educated artist and journalist Amar Bakshi, born and raised in Washington D.C., was traveling the globe seven years ago for his How the World Sees America interview series, he realized something: People often kept letters from American pen pals dating back to the 1980s, before the Internet made other modes of international correspondence possible.
I went into the portal and spoke with several Iranians about their lives and their country and how they see the U.S. Perhaps President Obama and Rouhani should meet this way – call it a diplomatic dance.
Weekly violin lessons from a teacher in Colorado Springs with a pupil in Kigali.
I was prepared for a pretty standard videoconference connection, but what I got was something infinitely more hygge. I was totally at home in the immersive, full-body viewing setup, feeling like I was chatting and making eye contact easily with my conversation partners, who were seated on a sofa in Berlin.
Think Skype on steroids. Inside a gold-painted shipping container, graduate students sit in front of a large screen watching a live video feed. They're chatting with Syrian refugees in another, identical shipping container located more than 4,000 miles away, in Jordan. First-year student Shannon Boley says when she first came face-to-face with a refugee in the portal, it felt as if they were in the same room.
“It was a beautiful, spiritual experience,” said Boley, her eyes still red. “On the other end of the world, you’re sharing this really intimate part of you. I’m singing this song that means so much to me, and I could tell her song meant so much to her.”
The Stream's Malika Bilal takes you inside the Washington DC portal.
When the Palestinians realized that the Harvard students spoke Arabic, “all of a sudden, they were like, ‘Whoa!’ ” Greenberg said. “There was kind of a spark, and a joy.” From there, the conversation continued mostly in Arabic, as they discussed popular American exports such as “Game of Thrones.”
Despite a surplus of communication services, the world can feel like a disconnected place. Innovations like social media make it possible to reach people all over the world, but these platforms often become echo chambers more than anything. A startup company called Shared Studios is trying to change that.
"In the four months I was there, I never had a connection with an Afghan citizen that was close to as powerful, as moving, as I did standing in that gold box. I was moved almost to tears. I was reminded why I got into the field of international affairs a thousand years ago: to understand people in other parts of the world, and how they thrive and survive under challenging circumstance. I was reconnected to that thread of my life.”
“I’ve had like some of the most meaningful conversations of my entire life in the portal,” says senior Emily Carder. “I’ve learned to salsa, danced with refugees from Congo, someone rapped in French to my best friend.” Carder was inspired to bring the portal to her high school after using it multiple times at its former location at Monroe Park in downtown Richmond. “I remember walking out absolutely shocked that I could communicate and relate so deeply to someone in such a short period of time across the world,” says Carder.
It’s dark and cool inside the Portal, a stark contrast to the summer heat and high sun. Wahid Rasooly, a 21-year-old civil engineering student, is standing in two places at once. His feet are in Herat, Afghanistan, but the screen inside the Portal shows a life-size version of him that can hear and talk in real time.
In demonstrations across the United States, protesters are questioning the role of police in communities. After the last challenge to police violence from Ferguson to Baltimore, we listened to approximately 1,500 individuals living in communities with long histories of police violence, asking: How do you feel about police in your community? Our findings suggest that protesters don’t just oppose troubling police practices; they also understand policing’s relationship to U.S. democracy.
A gold-painted shipping container equipped with an immersive audiovisual studio rests on Jack Poole Plaza outside TED Talks in Vancouver, ready to link whoever goes inside for a face-to-face conversation with someone somewhere else on the planet.
The world’s biggest conversation on the climate crisis launches simultaneously in New York City, Mexico City and Kigali
Wellington College welcomed back “The Big Gold Box” for two weeks in December. This offered the opportunity for transformational conversations between pupils and different communities across the globe such as activists in Mexico and entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, amongst others. Conversations centred around themes of Belief & Belonging, Climate Activism, Global Education, Human Rights and Interculturalism.
The Internet of People podcast explores topics from NFTs, Blockchain, DAOs, crypto, and what it means to be a Web3 first org. In this episode, the hosts are joined by Amar Bakshi, the founder of Shared_Studios. Together, they discuss the common issues of virtual technology that plague modern day work. They dive into how Shared_Studios has created real-life experiences through portals, which are interconnected, immersive audiovisual spaces that bring people across the world live and full-body, as if in the same room. And they discuss the impacts of connecting people virtually, the implications on having impactful conversations at work, and more importantly building trust and highly collaborative environments. The future of work doesn’t require minimum days in the office, but it does require a major upgrade to the video chat we use.
Twitter drives conversation across the globe every day, but now it’s making the experience more personal with real-world #Tweetups, connecting people via video chat in dozens of places as varied as a refugee camp in Greece and New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
The truck-size metal container sitting in a downtown park here isn't meant to raise awareness about the global shipping industry, though it may nudge some people's curiosity in that direction.
What do Newark, New Jersey, and Milwaukee’s Amani neighborhood have in common? They’re both high-crime, high-homicide and highly policed, and right now, a public park in each is hosting a gold-painted shipping container designed to facilitate conversations between the two cities about criminal justice and incarceration.
Iman, Dania and Marwa are talking about their lives in Zaatari, the largest refugee camp in the Middle East and home to more than 82,000 Syrians. Iman wants to be a journalist, Dania is focused on improving her English, and Marwa misses her three children, who live with their father in Syria.
Batool Matter and Michelle Graham stood shoulder to shoulder in front of a panel of judges, ready to present their design for a better ambulance emergency triage system for low-resource settings. They and four other team members had spent the better part of a week working on the design, and they had carefully rehearsed their presentation.
We at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum found ourselves asking, “How can we help visitors better understand the human consequences of mass atrocities and genocide?” For three months, our answer was the Portal: an immersive, audio visual experience created and facilitated by Shared Studios that connects strangers across the world in real time. The Portal was part of the Museum’s exhibition, “Genocide: The Threat Continues,” which focuses on the work of the Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide to bring attention to people and places at risk today for genocide and mass atrocities. The video screen is large, allowing participants to see each other in full scale. The Museum partnered with Shared Studios to connect our visitors with individuals who had fled the Assad regime in Syria or ISIS-occupied areas of Syria and Iraq and who are living in the Harsham internally displaced persons camp in Erbil, Iraq and at a refugee resettlement site in Berlin.
When Shared Studios brought its Portals project to Times Square last month, it brought in one of its star curators to take a turn on Broadway. Lewis Lee, who with his generous and engaging nature embodies the Portals mission to connect people around the world, flew in from Milwaukee to connect visitors with friends and strangers. Or more specifically, strangers who become friends.
The Portal underwent a dramatic upgrade as UNICEF prepared to connect Ali Ismail, a young entrepreneur from Baghdad, to a special Portal at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, California. The man on the other end of the videoconference would be the President of the United States, Barack Obama speaking to people in four other Portals across the world. Or at least we hoped so.
We recently stood at a door in New York. We walked through that door and faced a person inside Iran. That was the concept of an art installation which started in New York and whose creators hope to take it elsewhere. They invited us to try. Walk into a common steel shipping container painted gold.
Amar Bakshi explored the relationship between AV technology and public spaces when he spoke at the InfoComm 2018 TIDE conference. Anna Mitchell catches up with him about his recent project: Portals.
In a cozy space on Harvard’s campus, a small group of students sat down Sunday morning facing another cluster of young people and chatted about TV, music, and sports. Their conversation was casual, even ordinary. It hardly mattered that the groups were roughly 5,500 miles apart.
A trip to the other side of the world is now as short as a drive to Latham Park. A new interactive audiovisual installation called Portal has just opened at the downtown park, allowing residents and passersby to have an impromptu conversation with someone in a different country, continent, or hemisphere
With her white kitten scurrying around the room, Mira Bakri pulled up a chair and started telling three high schoolers from Conshohocken’s AIM Academy about her life and work in conflict-torn Gaza City, where she teaches high-tech coding skills to Palestinian youths amid their daily struggles for fresh water or electricity.
In August, in the middle of the night, a long truck maneuvered, and a crane gently deposited, a large gold-painted “box” on the ground at the western edge of Safra Square in Jerusalem, parallel to the light train rails.
Sitting inside the shipping container like it’s their clubhouse, Walton and Lee talk about changes in the neighborhood, including the local vocabulary. The word “trauma” has crept into the neighborhood vocabulary.