World’s first ‘virtual door’ connects Lublin to Lithuanian capital Vilnius in real time
Though 600 kilometres apart, a ‘virtual door’ has been unveiled connecting the cities of Lublin and Vilnius together – the first such project anywhere in the world.
Seeking to foster a sense of global unity, the portal was unveiled on Lublin’s Pl. Litewski and has already proved to be something of a public curiosity in both cities.
Built from concrete, the project has seen the two cities linked by a pair of circular screens capable of beaming real time images between the towns.
Created in cooperation with the Benediktas Gylys Foundation, the Crossroads Center for Intercultural Creative Initiatives, and the respective city halls in Lublin and the Lithuanian capital, organizers hope the bizarre portal will encourage communication and trust.
According to them, it is these values that have been eroded over the course of mankind’s charge towards the future: “in creating the world, we have learned to divide it into two – one that belongs to ‘us’ and another that belongs to ‘them’.
“It is east to surround ourselves with people we are close to, and we half-heartedly understand that being together we feel a little safer and stronger – however, our need for security and openness is offset by an indifference and distrust of things we don’t know.”
By bringing strangers in two completely different countries together, the organizers hope a bridge will be built between people who would otherwise never meet.
“Being with people who are close to us and speak the same language gives us a sense of stability,” say the organizers, “but this also limits our perspective of the world into a narrow circle.
“That alone is often enough to awake our insecurities and gives us an excuse to be careless about a world that belongs not to ‘us’ but to ‘them’.”
Because of this, qualities relating to open dialogue, empathy and compassion are often left forgotten, with people naturally inclined to overlook the bigger picture.
“It’s easy to believe we are each a wave and forget that we are also part of a wider ocean,” says Benediktas Gylys, President of the Benediktas Gylys Foundation.
This has become even more accented in recent years, he says, especially given the polarizing nature of the ideas and narratives that society is now fed on a seemingly consistent basis. This initiative, adds Gylys, seeks to transcend the sense of separation we may have.
Moreover, according to Alina Sheyda of Lublin’s Crossroads centre, the PORTAL project will provide a unique chance for not just people, but also the cities involved, to share their vision and energy with each other.
“The main assumption is to create a communication platform for not just passers-by, but also for institutions and organizations,” says Sheyda. “Through this, we’ll have the opportunity to showcase projects in Lublin and vice versa.”
Uniquely, the installation will also give its users the sort of visual sensation previously only enjoyed by astronauts looking out onto the world below.
“Thanks to the use of new technologies,” says Sheyda, “we’ll create a visual bridge that will enable people to experience a feeling known as the ‘overview effect’.”
In layman’s terms, this is the cognitive shift in awareness that astronauts commonly report during space flight, with the radical sensation often triggering a feeling of community and fragility among those that experience it.
Set to stand in Lublin until August, the project will soon be joined by similar initiatives in London and Reykjavik.
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