#SFPortal Connects Locals With Strangers Around the Globe

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"What would make today a good day for you?" That is the question curious visitors to this fancy gold shipping container, now at Proxy in Hayes Valley, are asking complete strangers from around the world in a groundbreaking public art project. 

Portals, an art initiative that redefines the old chat room by connecting people in different countries for live face-to-face conversations, opened at Proxy SF on Friday. Started by Shared_Studios, a "multidisciplinary arts, design and technology collective focused on carving wormholes in the world," the project has previously connected Americans on the East Coast with folks in Afghanistan, Iran, and Cuba. Along with the SF installation, new portals have been added in Mexico City and El Progreso, Honduras.

A San Franciscan reads up on the Portals project before entering the new installation at Proxy to chat live with someone in a similar portal in Mexico City. (Photo via Shared_Studios)

“This project is about creating space and time for strangers to encounter one another as individual works of art," said Shared_Studios creator, artist Amar C. Bakshi.

Here's how it works: Every 20 minutes, participants enter a gold-painted shipping container, with insulated walls and outfitted with audiovisual equipment, to engage in a live video conversation with a person in a similar portal located in Tehran, Herat, El Progreso, or Mexico City. For a few brief moments, strangers are able to get a glimpse inside the life and mind of a person in an entirely different place. Conversations are private and translations are available.  //  The Portal at Proxy SF will remain open through November 14, 2015, 432 Octavia St (Hayes Valley), proxysf.net, #sfportal

 

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