Home Tech The artist behind the portal that links New York and Dublin: ‘People got carried away’

The artist behind the portal that links New York and Dublin: ‘People got carried away’

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The artist behind the portal that links New York and Dublin: 'People got carried away'

tThe artist behind the controversial “Portal” art exhibition that visually linked New York and Dublin in real time, but was later closed due to the noisy and extreme behavior of the public using it, admitted he was surprised by the reaction.

Benediktas Gylys also promised to continue his project, which aims to connect people and communities around the world and which is expected to reopen soon.

It is debatable whether it will be possible for the New York-Dublin connection to work better when it is restarted. Gylys has floated the idea of ​​some kind of monitoring software that would make the screen go blurry for a few seconds if bad behavior is detected at a recently built construction site in New York’s Madison Park.

Gylys, 34, says he and his small team were so focused on installing and connecting the 8-foot-tall sculpture that they hadn’t given much thought to how it might be used or misused.

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“We were thinking about some potential incidents and took some measures, but now we see that they were not enough,” he told The Guardian.

“But for me it is just us, the human species, who together build this work of art and a representation of our current state of humanity,” he added. “We see a lot of love, light, smiles, a marriage proposal was made a couple of years ago.” Days ago, but we also have some darkness, people seeking attention, who only think about themselves, trying to jump into the narrative to get more views and followers.”

In fact, he claims, there was no incident that led to its deactivation. “It’s all part of the portal’s journey,” he said, but he hopes that whatever the public may broadcast across the Atlantic, they will stop jumping on his sculpture. “It’s supposed to be family friendly, to be enjoyed and cared for, not disrespected,” she said.

At the moment, the text on the circular steel and concrete sculpture reads “The portal is asleep, it will be operational again soon.”

“Soon” is a vague term. It could be tomorrow. It could be Sunday. But whatever the case, the Lithuanian artist hopes that the future of his entire project to connect humans with each other through international portals like this one will be a smoother journey than it has been to date.

The Portal, as it was called, made headlines when New Yorkers in the Flatiron district began communicating with Dubliners on O’Connell Street, and vice versa, in ways that were perhaps not in the spirit of Gylys’s artistic goal of ” Hug the life”. the beauty of global interconnection.”

New Yorkers greet people in Dublin during the Portal reveal in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, New York, on May 8, 2024. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Days after the Portal came to life on May 8, it abruptly shut down after OnlyFans model Ava Louise pulled up her top at Dubliners because she “thought the people of Dublin deserved to see two homegrown potatoes from NY”.

The authorities in New York and Dublin decided that this was more communication than they intended to convey. But there were other problems too. Dubliners held swastikas and showed images of New York’s twin towers burning on 9/11.

The Portal went dark.

In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Flatiron NoMad Partnership, the sculpture’s sponsor, said that “instances of inappropriate behavior come from a very small minority of Portal visitors and have been amplified on social media.”

Dublin City Council said that although those who behaved inappropriately were few and far between, videos of the controversial behavior went viral online.

“While we cannot control all of these actions, we are implementing some technical solutions to address this and they will go live in the next 24 hours,” the council said in a statement, adding that it would “continue to monitor the situation” to “ensure that the portals continue to offer a positive experience for both cities and the world.”

Gylys hopes to bring back the intention of the sculpture and its ambition to connect cities around the world. The United States’ visit to Ireland was not the first in the series; Lithuania to Poland was in 2021.

But the Lithuanians and Poles showed less talent for polemical gesticulation.

“Everyone is obsessed with Dublin and New York, but I am trying to communicate the message that it is not just about New York and Dublin, but about countries around the world joining the portal network to create the work largest art museum in the world.

The artist Benediktas Gylys in front of the Portal Photograph: Edward Helmore/The Guardian

If they can make it work, subject to human nature, the Dublin portal connecting with other cities and destinations, including Brazil, will be next.

Gylys says that in 2015 he was searching for the meaning of life, he was depressed and admitted to himself that he didn’t know anything about life. He came to feel united with all living beings and found it difficult, he says, “to experience the world with narratives of separation and conflict.”

Thus the idea of ​​an interconnected Portal was born.

But even in its dark state last week, the Portal continues to attract visitors in New York. Aaron Cohen, who described himself as an actor and satirist, said he had brought publicity and visitors to the neighborhood.

Cohen, 72, said he had brought unity because people could see what everyone in Ireland or New York does every day. “It was a good idea, but unfortunately people took advantage and brought out their lewd side. “People got carried away.”

He said authorities should have expected that “because in a crowd of ordinary people there would be some who would not act appropriately.” If the new censorship filters work, he added: “People who acted inappropriately will have to find another way out.”

Dounia Elfarah, who works in the cafe behind the sculpture, said she thought the piece had gone a long way to uniting the American and Irish communities. “They just sign because they can’t hear each other. It’s good for the community and some celebrities came too, like the guy from the reality show 90 Day Fiance.”

Aside from damaging it, how New Yorkers and Dubliners chose to use or interpret the sculpture is perhaps out of the artist’s hands, as any painting or installation might be. It is a question he has considered.

“Portals exist and humans create the portal experience,” Gylys said. “I’m not here to tell anyone how they should feel or react, but if they want the portal’s journey to continue, we would love support,” including financial support.

But if Dubliners and New Yorkers want to show up and point fingers at each other, there’s plenty they can each do.

“We are building this project as a bridge to a united planet,” says Gylys. “I think we’re ready to build that bridge, but maybe we’re not. Don’t know. “I can’t control behavior and I don’t want to, but my dream is to expand the portal network.”

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