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NYC to Dublin portal returns, with changes made due to ‘inappropriate behavior,’ tech issues



What to Know

  • A new round-the-clock live stream sculpture is connecting NYC and Dublin.
  • The portal has garnered attention from those instigating “inappropriate behavior” by flashing body parts and disturbing images.
  • The installation was temporarily closed due to tech updates and the bad behavior, but reopened Sunday with additional security measures

The virtual portal connecting New York City and Dublin is back — but with some changes in order to discourage the bad behavior that in part led to it closing temporarily.

Organizers said the live stream was restarted at 9 a.m. (or 2 p.m. in Dublin) Sunday along Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street after it was temporarily shut down earlier in the week due to “inappropriate behavior” and some tech issues. It will no longer be running 24/7, instead only being open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

There will also be new new security measures in place, including a fence around the portal, more signage and spacing decals to help with crowd control, on-site security guards monitoring the crowds during all hours of operation, and a failsafe that blurs the livestream if people obstruct the camera.

“The Portal sculptures are not meant to be touched or stepped upon. We have taken steps to limit instances of people stepping on the Portal and holding phones up to the camera lens,” a joint statement from the organizer said. “If individuals step on the Portal and obstruct the camera, it will trigger a blurring of the livestream for everyone on both sides of the Atlantic. The team will continue making updates as needed to ensure that everyone can continue to enjoy the Portal.

The livestream garnered lots of attention — thousands of visitors in just a week of existence, as well as nearly two billion online impressions, according to the organizers. But not all went for the right reasons, according to the nonprofit Flatiron Nomad Partnership.

“Instances of inappropriate behavior have come from a very small minority of Portal visitors and have been amplified on social media,” the organization previously said in a statement to News 4. “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.”

In one instance, an OnlyFans model, Ava Louise, flashed the camera. Separately, a visitor shared images of the attack on the Twin Towers during 9/11.

The portal is a piece of sculpture art by Portals founder and artist, Benediktas Gylys, originally from Lithuania. The idea to create a virtual link between countries started in 2016 when Gylys wanted to find a way to bridge international gaps, a passion further driven by the COVID pandemic.

“It became too difficult for me to live on a planet of constant separation, constant hatred. I felt a deep need to create something different, something new that would talk to the human heart instead of just rationally talking to the human brain,” Gylys told NBC New York during an interview in front of the NYC portal.

The NYC Portal made its North American debut on May 8 working with the Flatiron NoMad Partnership.

Gylys understands the portal as a 24/7 project and a work in progress, so the piece can be periodically closed to run technical updates to ensure the “experience is lovely for everyone.”

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

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