My two new college-aged friends -- at least I think we're friends, we just met -- love to hang out with their friends, shop and hit the beach when it's not too crowded. One of them loves horror movies, the other is really into action films. They've both gearing up for exams coming up in their studies of English and French literature
A stream of some 10 fourth-grade girls poured out of a metallic gold shipping container into the bright sunshine at Greenwich Academy. "Oh my gosh, that was so fun," several said, smiles on their faces. Inside, the students had been speaking with students in Honduras through a live stream, full-body video connection. They talked about their favorite parts of school and what they like to do for fun with the help of a translator.
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.
San Francisco will soon be home to the latest gateway in the Portals Project, a public art project curated by Shared_Studios that uses design and technology to connect strangers and artists across the globe. So what exactly is a portal? A portal is a retrofitted shipping container painted gold and immersed with audio and visual technology inside.
The large gold shipping container seems out of place in a courtyard of the University of Maryland’s performing arts center. But when it comes to art, expect the unexpected - this container is actually a portal, an entryway for a visitor to be teleported. Here you can have a conversation with a stranger in a far-off place who appears to be standing right in front of you.
Imagine stepping inside a shipping container and coming face-to-face with a live feed of a stranger inside another container in Tehran. Thanks to audio-visual technology, that’s exactly what you can experience September 10 through 15 during the NextNOW Fest at the Clarice.
These so-called “Portals” operate like wormholes, connecting people in Washington to people in cities like Herat, Afghanistan or El Progreso, Honduras. A translator stands on the opposite end, enabling a 20-minute conversation between two people who live in completely different parts of the world. Inside these gold-painted containers, though, they might feel like they’re in the same room.