As you swing open the heavy door at one end of the container, you’re in New Haven. But once you step inside, you’re whisked to another part of the world — a Syrian refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq, for instance, or a university in Herat, Afghanistan
This week, a golden shipping container will be standing in front of Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library. It’s an installation called a Shared Studio Portal, and it’s one of several around the world that connect strangers for 20-minute video chats.
Inside Yale University Art Gallery there is an exhibit of James Whistler’s etchings from the 1800s; outside, there is an installation of a large golden box with writing engraved on it some 200 years later, inviting people to interconnect between Teheran and New Haven, Connecticut. The bolted door reads, “Strangers in Tehran are encouraged to consider the prompt, what would make it a good day for you?”
I walked by the Yale Art Gallery last week on my usual trek to class, head bowed down to shield my face from the onslaught of snow. Fixated only on my increasingly numb toes, I glanced up just in time to avoid running headfirst into the large, golden box planted on the sidewalk in front of me. Curious, I stepped closer, peering at the words carved on its shimmering exterior: “A Portal Between Tehran and New Haven.” First thought: had I missed humanity’s leap into teleportation? I decided to investigate further.