Skip to main content

#ConsumerCorner: NYC's Portal shows the power of thinking outside the box

The portal NYC
Consumer Industries
Consumer Campaigns & B2B

An art installation known as The Portal, which sends a live video feed between Dublin and New York, hit the headlines recently after it was temporarily shut down because too many people were using it to beam their backsides across the Atlantic. 

It reopened earlier this month and last week I was lucky enough to check it out for myself. The ability to see others in a different continent isn’t exactly new but the entire experience showed that we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel to attract a crowd.  

I stumbled across The Portal almost by accident, following a week in New York, filled with hot dogs, baseball, Memorial Day celebrations, and much-needed air conditioning. 

While strolling with friends towards Madison Square Park via 5th Avenue, a wrong turn led us to the Flatiron Building where the portal is based. 

The scene was captivating: people smiling, waving, holding "I love Dublin" signs, dancing, and laughing at the sight of others in a different country. 

Food trucks and drink stations surrounded it, attracting crowds eager to grab a bite and people-watch. An entire section was dedicated to food, drinks, and shopping opportunities. 

As we continued to the park, we noticed the sheer number of people the portal attracted, not just to the site itself but to the surrounding businesses. People were spending money around this free art piece, benefiting local shops. Coffee shops and boutiques were bustling, showing how a compelling attraction can boost local commerce. 

Conceptualized by Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys, this modern art installation allows people on either side of the Atlantic to interact. While it was fascinating to see people 3,000 miles away, the real intrigue lay in its potential to boost footfall and bring in shoppers by making the site a destination. 

Despite having various communication tools that bridge vast distances, the novelty of this installation offers an innovative way to draw people out and into stores. 

The experience, which was the highlight of my trip, demonstrated that businesses should leverage existing technology in novel and exciting ways instead of always thinking they must only look forward. 

The NYC-Dublin 'magical portal' is more than just art—it's a game-changer for local business. 

By transforming a simple interaction into a captivating experience, it draws crowds, sparks exploration, and drives sales in the surrounding areas. 

This innovative blend of technology and creativity shows businesses the power of thinking outside the box. 

The portal not only connects two cities across an ocean but also bridges the gap between art and commerce, proving that modern art, technology and activities can revitalise urban spaces and boost local economies. 

This innovative approach acknowledges technology as an integral part of daily life and, for once, shifts our focus from our individual screens to a shared, collective experience.