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'Portal' livestream connecting New York and Dublin paused after 'inappropriate behavior'

The two cities unveiled the public art installations less than a week ago.
New York Dublin Ireland Video Portal
Posted at 2:36 PM, May 15, 2024

This is why we can’t have nice things. Less than a week after sculptures were unveiled in New York City and Dublin that connected the cities through a livestream, allowing people on either side to interact in real-time, the portals are being temporarily shut down because of “inappropriate behavior.”

The intentions behind the project were optimistic. The two cities unveiled the public art installations on May 8 — one facing O’Connell Street, the main street in Ireland’s capital city, and the other located in a plaza next to New York’s Flatiron Building in Manhattan.

The large, circular sculptures feature a screen in the center with a 24/7 live video stream — no audio — between the two cities. The purpose was to encourage global interconnectedness across the Atlantic Ocean.

“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,” said Lord Mayor of Dublin Daithí De Róiste in a statement. “We are delighted to connect Dublin with New York which we share a deep historical and cultural bond with.”

At first, videos shared on social media showed people on either side of “The Portal” waving, smiling and forming hearts with their hands.

But it didn’t take long for things to turn sour. As more videos circulated, people were seen flashing obscene body parts and making offensive gestures through the screens.

According to CNN and other outlets, the Dublin City Council said the installation’s livestream component has been shut down as they work with the team behind it to find a way to combat the bad behavior. The council noted that an overwhelming majority of people have used it “appropriately.”

The plan is to have the livestream back up by the end of this week, CNN reported.

This is the first time “The Portal” has been placed in a North American city, but the project has been around since 2021. The first installation, designed by Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys, connected the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and the Polish city of Lublin. It’s unclear if those cities had the same issue with inappropriate behavior.

Dublin officials said they plan to keep the installation up through the fall of this year and will eventually add connections to other cities in Lithuania, Poland and Brazil.