doors of perception

This sculpture connects two cities through a virtual portal
By Finn Blythe | Art | 5 July 2021

From Narnia to Beetlejuice and Back To The Future, portals have long been a staple of sci-fi and fantasy, offering mystical doorways across time and space. A new sculpture twinning the cities of Vilnius in Lithuania and Lublin in Poland turns this age-old concept into reality, uniting disparate populations at a time of restricted travel.

PORTAL is the brainchild of Benediktas Gylys, a Lithuanian-based entrepreneur whose eponymous foundation delivers public projects promoting creativity and innovation among young people. For this project, Gylys designed two circular portals to be placed in busy public squares with the hope of re-thinking the idea of international unity. Each sculpture displays a live video feed of the other city through a large circular screen that looks like something straight out of Stargate, allowing residents to interact with one another some 375 miles apart.

“Humanity is facing many potentially deadly challenges; be it social polarisation, climate change or economic issues,” says Gylys in an accompanying press release. “However, if we look closely, it’s not a lack of brilliant scientists, activists, leaders, knowledge or technology causing these challenges. It’s tribalism, a lack of empathy and a narrow perception of the world, which is often limited to our national borders.” Five years in the making, Gylys is hoping this portal will be the first of many, with plans for several others across Europe.

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