CONTRIBUTOR

Stand in the front of The Portal on 23rd Street in Manhattan and it’s impossible not to wave a greeting to Dubliners on O’Connell Street on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. And they wave back. It just makes people feel a bit giddy.

The Portal is a 24/7 live stream link between the two cities that’s a sneaky feel-good project that combines technology and art in a uniquely public way, fostering a new method of communicating between far-flung lands. The circular Portal is more than just about waves: Cultural programming is set to begin mid-May and includes a visual program to celebrate New York Design Week May 16-23.

The Portal project is unabashedly high-minded and it is the brainchild of Lithuanian artist Beneditkas Gylys. “Portals are an invitation to meet people above borders and differences and to experience our world as it really is—united and one,” says Gylys. “The livestream provides a window between distant locations, allowing people to meet outside of their social circles and cultures, transcend geographical boundaries and embrace the beauty of global interconnectedness.”

Whether the governments of countries with real differences would permit portals in their own countries remains to be seen. The New York-Dublin portal enjoys high visibility but a portal link between Vilnius, Lithuania and Lublin, Poland actually preceded it. The Portals organization (portals.org) hopes to build more and says it is equipped to install as many as six per year. Ultimately, there may be enough portals for a networked link that would allow rotating images from multiple locations.

Perhaps inevitably, the Portal has seen some boorish behavior from the odd Dubliner as well as an exhibitionist display on the Manhattan side from an OnlyFans model actually from across the Hudson River in New Jersey (New Yorkers are too cool for such obvious fame-chasing antics.)

The Portal organization plans some technical solutions to mitigate such behavior, measures that may include the inability of images held up to the camera to be visible to people on the other side as well as a physical security presence.

For most participants, the Portal is a delightful experience with even one successful marriage proposal reported—fair play to the bride and groom as there is no audio link – since its early May debut. From its New York location, the portal captures the view of Dublin’s famous GPO building and the iconic Spire together. In New York, the portal is adjacent to the architecturally famous Flatiron Building.

“Two amazing global cities, connected in real-time and space,” remarked New York City chief public realm officer Ya-Ting Liu. “That is something you don’t see every day!”

The New York-Dublin Portal is scheduled to be live through next Fall.