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Dublin-New York Portal Reopens After Flashing and Other Shenanigans

The Portal is back. For now.

At 11 a.m. in Dublin on Monday, a big, round art installation that livestreams video between Dublin’s city center and the Flatiron district in Manhattan returned after being shut off on May 14 because of questionable behavior by visitors on both sides.

Some of that behavior showed up in videos on social media that showed an OnlyFans model lifting her shirt in New York and people in Dublin displaying swastikas and images of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. In less than a week since its unveiling on May 8, the Portal had “attracted tens of thousands of visitors,” the installation’s organizers said in a statement.

Then, on Sunday, at 2 p.m. local time in Dublin, the Portal returned, without much fanfare.

Located just off O’Connell Street, next to a statue of the Irish writer James Joyce, the big round screen sits close to a busy thoroughfare in the center of Dublin. On Monday morning, it attracted a steady crowd of onlookers — made up of locals, tourists and Bruce Springsteen fans in town for his concert on Sunday night — for the second day of its reawakening.

What the crowd saw seemed to be equal parts exciting and underwhelming: an empty street in the Flatiron district with the occasional commuter or dog walker.

“I don’t really understand what the point of it is,” said Patrick Grant, a Canadian who has been living in Ireland for seven years. He said he wasn’t surprised that people behaved the way they did. “Lads are going to be lads.”

The goal of the artwork had been to “redefine the boundaries of artistic expression and connectivity” and create a sense of “joy and connectedness” for participants, according to a statement from its organizers, the Dublin City Council, the Flatiron NoMad Partnership and Portals.org.

Still, the audience in Dublin cheered excitedly at New Yorkers who were up at 6 a.m.

“It’s obviously very entertaining, even if there’s nothing happening on the other side,” said Matthias Rebbert, who was visiting from Germany. “I would love to see it in Berlin as well.”

Christine Santen, who was visiting from Paris, said she had tried to see the Portal every day of her five-day trip to the Irish capital. She was delighted to have finally caught a glimpse and called it “merveilleux!”

Most people said they were happy to witness the art installation, standing in the rare Irish sunshine, waving excitedly at strangers across the Atlantic whom they’d probably never see again.

Many people who gathered in front of the screen said they had heard about the Portal, as well as its problems, on social media, but thought it was an interesting way for people to connect.

Because of last week’s issues, organizers have instituted changes. Rather than operating around the clock, the Portal will be open from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. Eastern, or 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Dublin. On the New York side, the Portal will continue to have security during its hours of operation.

Another measure is the presence of two “Portal ambassadors” on either side of the installation in Dublin, wearing neon-yellow jackets, to deter people from misbehaving. Both declined to comment, but held a steady gaze on the crowd.

And to deter people from blocking the camera, the organizers said that stepping too close to it would “trigger a blurring of the livestream for everyone on both sides of the Atlantic.”

There appeared to be no misbehavior on Monday. A man played a game of rock, paper, scissors with someone across the pond (America won that round). A woman tried to start a trans-Atlantic Macarena dance (it did not catch on). In New York, dogs wagged their tails.

Ivey Lowe, a Brooklyn resident on vacation in Dublin, said she used to work in the Flatiron district and did not necessarily want to look at her onetime commute from thousands of miles away. Still, she said, “I love that it exists.”

The video connection is not an entirely new concept for New Yorkers. In 2008, a 12-foot art installation called the “Telectroscope” connected the city with London, though there did not seem to be comparable instances of misbehavior then.

The Portal also has installations connecting Lublin, Poland, to Vilnius, Lithuania. There may be more in other places, according to Portals.org.

In Dublin on Monday, the stream of visitors moved quickly, with most people lingering for only a few minutes before moving on with their days, while acknowledging that the New Yorkers on the other side probably needed to get to work.

“The Yanks, they like to get on with their work, they don’t stand around on a Monday morning,” said Ryan McMahon, who was in Dublin from Northern Ireland for the Springsteen concert on Sunday night. “They probably don’t have a whole lot of time for this.”

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