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."
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.
Whenever Brooklyn and Berlin appear in the same sentence, the word “hipster” always lurks nearby like a smug intruder. True, both places are littered with hipster bait, with store after store peddling expensive coffee and fixed-gear bikes. But there’s far more to Brooklyn and Berlin, of course. Right now the communities are working together to create something many hipsters don’t seem to care that much about: jobs. The idea is to drive growth and innovation by connecting the two emerging tech startup scenes.
While celebrating May Day in Kigali this year, University of Rwanda student INNOCENT UDAHEMUKA stopped by Stanford for a visit – well, almost.
Stepping into a gold-painted, soundproofed shipping container, Udahemuka stood in just the right spot for the mic to pick him up, the cameras to provide a full-body projection and the 4G connection to deliver him to a similar container in front of Crothers Hall on the Stanford campus. Udahemuka was in Rwanda.