Since July, a gold-painted shipping container in Crissy Field has let everyday San Franciscans have 20-minute video chats with people anywhere from Afghanistan and Mexico to Germany to Rwanda.
The San Francisco Portal, which made its first appearance in Hayes Valley in 2015, is opening the door to global communication again at Crissy Field. You just have to book a reservation online (it's free of charge) to slip into the gold-painted box that's parked on the lawn; you can then have a 20-minutes live conversation with someone who lives on the other side of the world.
As the shipping container door closed, blocking out the sunlight and whipping wind of a San Francisco summer afternoon, I was instantly transported to Mexico City.
New Elon Musk-designed teleportation device? Nope. This is public art. Specifically, the return of Portals, a project by the local art and design collective Shared_Studios. Portals acts as a virtual bridge to Afghanistan, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Germany, Rwanda, and Mexico, where identical shipping containers have been furnished with a simple screen and black soundproof padding on the walls, allowing inhabitants to connect and communicate with people on the other side of the world. San Franciscans will be able to enter these gold-painted containers starting July 20 and—with a little help from some immersive audiovisual technology, the National Parks Service, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—be transported to another place.
Tracy Brandi looked at an 8-foot-tall projector screen in San Francisco’s Crissy Field on Thursday morning. Half a world away, three students at Catholic University in Nairobi, Kenya, looked back.
The screen, which sits inside a gold-painted shipping container, connects people around the world through video chats. For three years, a New York company has set up the screens they call “portals” to connect people who would otherwise never meet — and now there’s one in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Portal created by the group Shared Studios originally made a brief appearance in Hayes Valley in the fall of 2015, as you can see in the Instagram post below. At the time, KALW wrote about the project, begun in 2014 by artist Amar Bakshi, placing gold shipping containers in cities across the world, connected by Skype.
Bay Area residents will soon have a new way to see the likes of Mexico City and Kabul – in a shipping container.
While modest from the outside, those who enter the stranded crate in Crissy Field will immediately be connected to participants in another country. The live broadcast will allow each party to engage and interact for 20 minutes, something that is usually impossible without a plane ticket. Language barriers will also be torn down by an interpreter.
An upcoming art installation at San Francisco's Crissy Field will feature a meet and greet with strangers thousands of miles away.
The "Portal" exhibit, created by Shared_Studios and made possible by partnerships with Luminalt, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Park Service, brings a "gold-painted shipping container filled with immersive audiovisual equipment" to the park. The container will allow up to eight people at a time in San Francisco to enter and meet people at one of 20 other portals around the world, including Honduras, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, and elsewhere. Language interpretation assistance, of course, will be provided.
The future of communication has arrived in the Bay Area — and it looks an awful lot like a shipping container. A shipping container someone spray-painted gold. The container in question was perched behind a chain-link fence near San Francisco’s Hayes Green, next to other shipping containers that had retired from hauling stuff and were now home to shops selling clothes, coffee and ice cream.
There's a new tenant in Hayes Valley's Proxy space, sandwiched between the Smitten ice cream stand and the lager-slinging Biergarten. This time, though, the addition isn't another hipster-approved juice bar or gluten-free bakery: This is a wormhole to another country hosted by Shared Studios, a global public art project.
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.
Hayes Valley's new portal to the world opened its door to the neighborhood this morning, offering the opportunity to chat live through video with individuals in Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Afghanistan and Iran.
The portals are a project of interactive arts and technology collective Shared Studios, whose mission is "carving wormholes in the world." This portal is the first of its kind to come to San Francisco, but, as we noted last month, locations have previously been set up in New York, New Haven and Washington D.C.
The portal is housed in a gold shipping container located between Biergarten and Linden Street. The interior of the shipping container features carpeted walls and floors for soundproofing from the noisy neighborhood outside. Inside are two chairs and a table; on the far wall, a large image is projected of the person you'll be talking with.
20-minute appointments can be made on the Shared Studios site: you can connect with Cuba and Honduras from 11am-2pm, and with Afghanistan or Iran from 7:30pm to 10:30pm. Since the launch this morning, it's been a bit slow, but Friday night is already completely booked. However, the portal will be open until November 18th, so there'll be ample time to set up an appointment.
If you'd like to check out the setup, meet the creator and learn more about the project, Shared Studios will be hosting a grand opening event this Friday from 6-7:30pm. They'll hand out tokens for free Smitten ice cream to the first 20 people to arrive, and music will come courtesy of the City of Trees Brass Band. A live Q&A will start at 7pm with creator Amar Bakshi, and at 7:30pm the portal will connect to Afghanistan. More details can be found on the event page.