‘Portal' installation linking Dublin and New York reopens after ‘inappropriate behavior'

Each sculpture broadcasts a livestream from the portal in the other city, allowing real-time interaction between people on both sides of the Atlantic

The livestream video portal connecting Manhattan’s Flatiron District with a portal in Dublin on May 10.

A livestream portal linking New York and Dublin reopened Sunday after it was briefly shut down last week amid reports of people flashing body parts, doing drugs on camera and trolling viewers on the other side.

The visual art exhibit dubbed “The Portal” features a pair of installations that each have a giant screen and a video camera, with one placed next to the Flatiron Building in New York and one on O’Connell Street, the Irish capital’s main thoroughfare, NBC News reported. Each side of the portal broadcasts a livestream from its counterpart in the other city, enabling visitors on both sides to interact with each other in real time — as if the two cities were participating in a giant video call.

The display has attracted tens of thousands of visitors since it opened earlier this month. But its popularity has also prompted some mayhem.

On Tuesday, the Dublin City Council announced it would be closing the portal due to “inappropriate behavior by a small minority of people” after videos circulated online of a woman baring her breasts to the portal, a man mooning the camera and someone at the Dublin portal holding up a photo of 9/11. Others appeared to show themselves taking drugs or pretending to.

In a statement announcing the portal’s reopening Sunday, the installation’s organizers in both cities said they have implemented a “proximity-based solution” by taking action to prevent people from stepping on the portals and holding phones up to the cameras.

Aside from having added fencing and spacing decals in front of the New York portal, stepping onto the installation and obstructing the camera will now trigger a blurring of the livestream on both sides, according to the organizers.

Brianna Jacobson in New York held up a sign for her friend Sarah, whom she hadn’t seen in more than a year. When asked if it made her day, she said tearfully, “My month.”
Brianna Jacobson in New York held up a sign for her friend Sarah, whom she hadn’t seen in more than a year. When asked if it made her day, she said tearfully, “My month.” (NBC News)

“As humans we are creating the Portals experience together,” founder Benediktas Gylys said in a statement Sunday. “I invite local communities not only to enjoy but to care about their Portals and how other community members are approaching the sculptures.”

He told NBC News last week that the portals “received 500 million people” in the five days after they first opened.

When NBC News visited the Dublin portal on Tuesday, the day it was shut down, people danced and waved hello in front of the portal. Some played Rock, Paper, Scissors with Americans on the other side.

“[‘The Portal’ is] about recognizing those people, seeing that we all share more in common than what separates us,” Gylys said on Tuesday.

Having set up a similar portal linking his native Lithuania with Poland, Gylys said he has plans for future portals in Brazil and Ethiopia as well.

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