Dublin video portal to New York shuts temporarily due to unruly behaviour

<span>Children in New York City signal to people in Dublin through the livestream Portal on Tuesday 14 May.</span><span>Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP</span>
Children in New York City signal to people in Dublin through the livestream Portal on Tuesday 14 May.Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

Authorities in Dublin are to temporarily shut down the live video portal with New York because of unruly behaviour.

The city council said in a statement on Tuesday it would switch off the interactive webcam at 10pm Irish time while technicians try to tweak – or censor – a project that has brought delight and notoriety.

“The team behind the Portal art sculpture … has been investigating possible technical solutions to inappropriate behaviour by a small minority of people,” the statement said.

“Dublin city council had hoped to have a solution in place today, but unfortunately the preferred solution, which would have involved blurring, was not satisfactory.”

The Portals.org team was investigating other options, said the council. “As a result the Portal will be switched off at 10pm tonight and the team at Portals.org have told us they expect it will be switched back on later this week.”

The art installation has become a global phenomenon and source of controversy since launching on 8 May. Some people on the Irish side have thrown eggs, flashed body parts and displayed images of swastikas and the twin towers burning on 9/11, prompting the New York Post to dub it the “portal to hell”.

Designed by a Lithuanian artist, Benediktas Gylys, each structure has a screen with a diameter of 2.4 metres (8ft) and weighing 3.5 tonnes. The New York portal is at the junction of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street. Its counterpart in Ireland’s capital is at the corner of North Earl Street and O’Connell Street in the heart of the city.

“It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of people interacting with the Dublin Portal have behaved appropriately,” said the council statement.

That is accurate – most people simply wave and smile at people on the New York side. Some also dance, mime and hold up jokey signs in the sort of fleeting, playful interactions envisaged by authorities when they launched the project as a “bridge to a united planet”.

However those who have mooned, hurled objects or shown provocative images have become viral sensations. The council did not elaborate on its efforts to blur imagery.

“Not even a week in and Dubliners have truly embarrassed us around the world,” Amy Donohoe lamented in an Irish Independent column. “Anyone who goes and stands in front of the portal is representing our little country, but if we’re showing off a drunken culture and being offensive, it could potentially affect tourism in Ireland in the long run. People may not want to come here if this is what they’re seeing.”