Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Art Of Tastelessness, New York To Dublin Portal Closed

It was an exciting concept, a bridge between two cities through art. Two sculptures were erected, acting as portals between New York and Dublin, with the aim of fostering visual communication between everyday people in the two cities. However, this excitement was short-lived when “inappropriate behavior” prompted officials in both cities to initiate what they hope will be a temporary shutdown.

The portals are lens-like structures that provide a 24/7 live stream between the two cities. On the New York side, the portal is located on the Flatiron South Public Plaza at Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street. In Dublin, the portal faces the capital city’s main street, O’Connell Street. The idea, of course, is to give a sense of not only the people but the backdrop of each city.

Still, the best-laid plans can always be outdone by good old-fashioned human stupidity. While most people visiting the portals behaved appropriately, a small minority decided to flash body parts and conduct themselves in unseemly ways.

The Flatiron NoMad Partnership, one of the project’s organizers, made this statement about the issue.

“In New York, we have had a set of protocols in place since the Portal’s launch, including 24/7 on-site security and barriers to prevent people from stepping onto the Portal.”

Unfortunately, the protocols were not stringent enough to prevent a few knuckleheads from causing the shutdown. According to the Dublin City Council, the structures’ creators are “investigating possible technical solutions to inappropriate behavior by a small minority of people in front of the Portal.”

“Dublin City Council had hoped to have a solution in place today, but unfortunately, the preferred solution, which would have involved blurring, was not satisfactory,” the City Council expressed their disappointment late Tuesday. The team behind the sculptures, Portals.org, is now exploring other options.

According to Flatiron NoMad Partnership, the New York Portal was turned off for a few days starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday while the creators and their partners in both cities work on additional solutions to limit such behavior appearing on the livestream. The statement added:

“We are delighted by how many people have been enjoying the Portal since it was launched last week. It has become a global phenomenon, and it is important to note that the overwhelming majority of people interacting with the Dublin Portal have behaved appropriately.”

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Daithí de Róiste, embraced the idea of expanding global connections. Before opening the structures, Roiste released a statement alluding to that goal.

“One of my key aims as Lord Mayor is to make the City more inclusive. The Portals project embodies this, bringing together technology, engineering and art to bring communities from across the world closer together and to allow people to meet and connect outside of their social circles and cultures.”

De Roiste mentioned that the portals project is part of the events scheduled to coincide with Dublin’s 2024 EU Capital of Smart Tourism Designation. In July, Dublin expects to connect to destinations in Poland, Brazil, and Lithuania.

The New York – Dublin connection is not the first attempt to culturally connect two cities. In 2021, portals connected Vilnius, Lithuania, with Lublin, Poland.

We can only hope that the connection will be successfully reopened. I’m a natural optimist but judging by the current state of things in New York, there are no guarantees. I won’t be holding my breath.