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.
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.
We’re taught from a young age to not talk to strangers, a lesson that’s been reinforced by the Taken franchise and most episodes of CSI. But Amar Bakshi, founder of the multidisciplinary collective Shared Studios, has come up with an exception to that rule. Bakshi is the creator of Portals, a global art project that could be described as the 21st century’s answer to a pen pal. The idea is to provide a space—in this case a gold-painted shipping container outfitted with a giant video screen—where two strangers can have a face-to-face conversation despite being half a world apart. One such portal is stationed in Grand Park from April 10 through 23.
The 92nd Street Y's annual 7 Days of Genius festival wants to dismantle the idea that "genius" comes from hubs like Silicon Valley, and show that it really happens when people work together. At the end of the long hallway that bisects New Lab—a tech and manufacturing coworking space that opened in an old industrial building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard last September—a crowd gathers outside a gold shipping container, waiting for their turn to walk inside.
A Myrna y Osama no hay nada que les guste más que ir al colegio. Durante meses, las atrocidades de Estado Islámico y las bombas impidieron que cogiesen los libros pero ahora, poco a poco, sus vidas vuelven a la normalidad. Lo hace en medio de la nada. En uno de los 23 campo de refugiados que las organizaciones internacionales han habilitado para los desplazados de la guerra en Mosul. Están a solo 60 kilómetros de distancia, pero allí, la vida vuelve a tomar forma, lejos de las atrocidades de los bárbaros.
Portals exist all over the world, right from New York City to refugee sites in Berlin and Iraq to a tech incubator in Gaza, Palestine. They have been used by Barrack Obama, Ban Ki Moon, Morgan Spurlock, Ewan McGreggor, John Kerry and 20,000 other individuals. It is for the first time that a portal is being set up in Mumbai, India.
On World Refugee Day, a golden shipping container was brought on to the grounds of the United Nations General Assembly hall in New York. Inside, cutting-edge audiovisual technology allowed delegates to converse via live video chat with children inside Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp, as though they were standing in the same room.
Visitors can also watch curated portal experiences focusing on particular interests or activities. For example, a high school world history class will connect with teenagers in Gaza City Monday; on Wednesday, Chicago-based hip-hop artist Ric Wilson will perform for a crowd in Mexico City before artists there perform; and musicians Eddie Taylor Jr. and Harmonica Hinds will perform a blues concert for an audience in Kigali, Rwanda Saturday.
During the United Nations' 70th General Assembly last week, the U.N. attempted to bridge the gap between world leaders and Syrian refugees with a mix of virtual reality, documentary-style videos and good, old-fashioned conversation. It's an example of modern storytelling on one of the world's biggest stages that tech-minded marketers could learn from