Portals to Another World in a Shipping Container
In December 2014, Shared Studios launched the global public art initiative called Portals. Portals are gold-colored shipping containers equipped with immersive audiovisual technology and spread out in public sites around the world. When individuals enter a Portal, they feel as though they are sharing the same space as someone in an identical Portal somewhere else on Earth. As many participants have put it, they “feel like they are breathing the same air.”
Each Portal is staffed by a Portal Curator who works with Portal Curators around the world to run the space, provide language interpretation, and organize events.
Since launch, Portals have connected more than 60,000 people across twenty countries in one-on-one dialogues. They have engaged tens of thousands more in collaborations, classes and performances. Community partners have built permanent Portals in diverse locations around the globe, including Syrian refugee camps, American inner-cities, Afghan universities, and Mexican public parks. And notable guests have engaged the Portals network, including Barack Obama, Ban Ki-moon, John Kerry, Penny Pritzker, Samantha Power, Haider al-Abadi, Sergey Brin, Fareed Zakaria, Josh Radnor, Doug Liman and Ewan McGregor.
Shipping Containers Are Used to Share a Vision of Unity
Shared Studios states their vision clearly:
We have incredible technology at our fingertips, making it as easy to call someone down the street as across the globe. We harness that technology to connect communities to one another. We envision a world where no matter what the activity — work, exploration, play — people from all walks of life can enjoy the benefits of doing it with other human beings from communities unlike their own.
Shipping Containers Are Used to Fulfill One Man’s Vision
“We want to connect people who wouldn’t otherwise meet,” said Amar Bakshi, who started the project in 2014 with boxes connecting New York and Iran.
“This is a time when people see each other as ‘types’ too often,” Bakshi said. “This adds a level of depth that can break up those hardened narratives.”
The floor-to-ceiling screen inside the dimly-lit container gives users the feeling they’re talking to someone in the same room, while a sign on a message board next to the shipping container reads “This is better than Facebook!”
Bakshi said that Shared Studios is receiving calls from people all over the world desiring their own portals. The cost of the project is offset by payments from US and European locations that can afford the staff and technology. For example, the city of Los Angeles paid to have the portal for two weeks, and then money from L.A. was used to pay for free portals in underprivileged parts of the world.
The Portal project, so far, connects 2,000 refugees at the camp and has a full-time curator who can translate individual conversations and organize recurring events.
In all, the portals are available to 10,000 refugees in Irbil, Berlin, Gaza City and Amman, Jordan. “We are working to expand to six more refugee sites this year,” Bakshi said. “There are plans to put one inside a prison … and outside of a hospital in Liberia.”
What dreams or ideas do you have that finances, time and space have restrained you from fulfilling your vision? Have you considered portable shipping containers as a way to bring your dream to reality? ContainerOne would love to assist you in this process, and we have knowledge and friendly staff ready to answer your questions and assist you every step of the way.
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