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Portals, Pranks, and Proximity: The Tale of a Transatlantic Art Installation
Portals of Pandemonium - A Tale of Transatlantic Hijinks
Art Stuff 21 May 2024

In a world often divided by borders, languages, and time zones, Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys had a bright idea: a portal to connect strangers from Dublin and New York City. The installation, known simply as “The Portal,” promised to transcend geographical boundaries and offer a unique window into a world united as one. But as history has shown, when humans get access to technology, hilarity often ensues.

Gylys’ vision was pure: “Portals are an invitation to meet people above borders and differences and to experience our world as it really is — united and one.” And for a brief moment, it was magical. People exchanged smiles, dance lessons were taught, and even a few romantic connections blossomed across the 3,000-mile chasm. It was as if the Atlantic Ocean itself had shrunk to the size of a puddle.

But as the saying goes, the road to hilarity is paved with good intentions. Less than a week after its grand opening, “The Portal” was temporarily shut down due to what can only be described as “creative interpretations” of its purpose. It turns out, when you give people a live video link across the ocean, some will inevitably use it to moon their transatlantic neighbors, flash inappropriate body parts, and showcase an alarming variety of swear words.

One incident that sparked this outpouring involved an OnlyFans model who chose to flash the Dublin portal, much to the delight (or horror) of onlookers. It seems even in the age of digital connection, some things remain timelessly human. The chaos reached a crescendo when a Dublin user decided to broadcast a video of the 9/11 attacks, leading to the portal’s abrupt slumber. A somber message appeared on the blank screen: “Portal is asleep – back up soon.” And so, the grand experiment of global interconnectedness took a nap, possibly to dream of a more wholesome future. In a touching turn of events, some visitors began placing flowers at the Dublin portal after its closure, perhaps in memory of its brief yet eventful life.

Despite these setbacks, Dublin City Council remains optimistic. They announced that the portal would reopen with set hours: 1100 to 2100 local time in Dublin and 0600 to 1600 EDT in New York. To curb the shenanigans, new measures have been put in place. Stepping on the portal or holding phones up to the camera lens now triggers a blur effect, ensuring that the live stream remains PG-rated for all to enjoy.

But not everyone was deterred by the antics. The portals, situated in Dublin’s bustling O’Connell Street and New York’s vibrant Flatiron South Public Plaza, continue to draw tens of thousands of visitors. The installations have amassed almost two billion online impressions, a testament to their allure and the universal appeal of a good prank.

As the portals prepare to reopen, the spirit of joy and connectedness envisioned by Gylys endures. Dublin City Council reminds the public that the sculptures are not to be touched or stepped on, echoing the gentle admonishments of a museum guard protecting a cherished exhibit.

In the end, “The Portal” stands as a testament to our shared humanity, our penchant for mischief, and our enduring desire to connect — even if it means seeing a little more of each other than initially intended. So here’s to the portals, may they continue to unite us, one blurred livestream at a time.

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