LOS ANGELES (CN) – Inside the gleaming dark gold shipping container in LA’s Grand Park, the three art students giggled uneasily. They sat in a room carpeted from floor to ceiling in charcoal gray, facing a screen that showed two Iraqi men, Muhammad and Rami, sitting on lime-green plastic chairs in a similarly enclosed space.
According to Shared Studios’ founder Amar Bakshi, “the idea is to create a global network of these publicly accessible one-on-one booths”. Imagine that! Once facing your opposite number, you can more or less do what you want – aided by a curator/translator staffing each Portal, you can talk about your day, the weather, your childhood, or if you like just sit there in silence … the beauty of Portals is that the interactions are essentially pressure-less. There is no agenda other than to spend time with each other. To exchange ideas. To learn from a stranger precisely because of everything you don’t know about them. And, best of all, to genuinely engage with somebody in a way that most other social networks – for all the vastness of their reach – actively discourage.
"The context of art is critical to Portals. The contemporary gallery absolutely is not. Portals is a global public artwork that can exist only because there is a common global understanding of at least one definition of art that positions art as de-instrumentalized, without purpose, without objective measure of its worth. This vision has been nurtured by museums, galleries, art schools, collectors, fairs, public art institutions, and others. Now, because of their work, Portals can exist as art outside the art world institutions as long as participants understand it as such."
Developed in 2014 by Shared_Studios, there are now more than 20 Portals located around the world. They provide participants with an opportunity to meet individuals from entirely different backgrounds and cultures. The immersive technology and enclosed setting transcends popular video technologies. When President Obama experienced the Portal at the 2016 Entrepreneurship Summit he said, “It seems like you’re standing right in front of me.”
Amar Bakshi is an artist and the creator of Shared_Studios, a multidisciplinary art collective that connects people across all forms of distance. In 2014, the studio launched Portals, which uses custom spaces, usually gold shipping containers, equipped with audio-visual technology to allow participants to converse with others in identical spaces around the world. Since launching, more than 25,000 people have spoken to one another through Portals spread across twenty countries, including participants such as Barack Obama and artist Tania Bruguera. Amar is a graduate of Harvard University and also holds degrees from Johns Hopkins and Yale Law School.
By Pamela Campani December 15, 2015
On Dec. 5 the Sagamore known as the art hotel welcomed over 3000 of the world’s most prominent artist, curators gallerists and art lovers to the 14th Annual Art Basel Brunch. The following week they exhibited many artworks in collaboration with several artist and organizations.
At the entrance of the hotel was an interactive installation titled Portal that connected residents and guests to strangers in Portal locations around the world, including Afghanistan, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and more. This work is a global public art initiative linking locations around the world through gold shipping containers equipped with immersive audio-visual technology. Inside the portal you come face-to-face with a life-size person in a distant location as if they were in the same room. Postals created by Shared studios and artist Amar Bakshi currently exist in seven locations, including a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. More thanks 7,000 people have engaged with each other through Portals, artists have collaborated thorough and even families have been reunited.
A massive hotel-wide video installation was curated by Lori Zippay, EAI’s Executive Director. All media artworks were selected from the extensive EAI archive from several artist, and presented formal, conceptual or perceptual transformations of natural landscapes and environments. The works cover five decades and range from playful to socially resonant.
Another piece on display was a site-specific installation created by renowned sculptor, Alan Sonfist. The installation was inspired by the artist’s stay at the Sagamore and the natural beauty of the elements that surround the beautiful property. It features a metal frozen in time visualizing the invisible elements such as time and space, and creates a remarkable contrast between man-made objects and nature. A time-lapse video of the building of the sculptor was shown during the brunch and on the hotel televisions.
Some of the notable attendees included renowned art critic and curator, Jerome Sans; Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Bass Museum of Art Miami Beach, Silvia Karman Cubiña; Owner of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Fred Snitzer; philanthropist Griselda Breene; renowned photographer Robin Hill; Art Basel VIP Director Stephanie Reed and guest curator Lori Zippay.
“What is beautiful to you?” It's the question that curators will ask participants around the world when they step inside a large gold shipping container for a project titled Portals that seeks to interface with the global art world. The initiative, part of Art Basel Miami Beach, is taking place this week outside of the Sagamore Hotel in Miami with real-time connections to counterparts in Afghanistan, Cuba, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, and Zimbabwe.
The Sagamore is known as the Art Hotel because of its permanent and changing exhibitions. But this year’s highlight, The Portal, is designed to foster understanding in ways far beyond the visual. For 20 minutes at a time, visitors can step inside a gold, internet-enabled shipping container and talk with an individual in Afghanistan, Cuba or Iran. The year-old project was founded by Amar Bakshi, a former journalist who wanted others to experience the kind of meaningful interactions with strangers he had while traveling. “We’re creating a space where people encounter one another with no particular purpose” — a kind of global public square. Language won’t be an issue; each portal is staffed with both a translator and a local curator.
Es un época complicada para conocer gente cara a cara; cada vez hay más alternativas digitales que le quitan lo personal a los encuentros, magníficas herramientas para socializar, pero no siempre para conocerse.
Portales es justamente una alternativa digital a lo impersonal, es una forma casi mágica de conocer gente de otros países mediante una ‘tecnología audiovisual inmersiva’ en la que sientes que prácticamente puedes tocar a tu contraparte.