One of the great dilemmas of the 21st century is the way technology and social media can distance us from those physically around us. In a paradoxical attempt to keep up with the ways people choose to present themselves online, we lose touch with their realities in real time. However, just as technology has the power to create distance between those physically close to us, it also has the power to bridge distances of thousands of miles between people around the world.
For a country like Honduras, bridging this distance has become imperative, now more than ever. Political unrest and impunity have made freedom of speech critical, but difficult to exercise. With Honduran voices being silenced, sometimes by their own government, the few glimpses of the country that are presented on global television sets are images of sensationalized poverty and violence. While these news stories have captured the attention of audiences worldwide, they do not provide a comprehensive picture of the country. These images, when existing as the sole images associated with Honduras, strip Hondurans of their resilient, culturally diverse, and prolific identities as academics, workers, businessmen and women, students, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters.
The Portals project, created in conjunction with Shared Studios and run by OYE staff members and youth, is challenging this status quo. A Portal is a gold shipping container enclosing an immersive audiovisual technology that, when inside, allows two people from different parts of the world to communicate as if in the same room. In its two short weeks of existence as the first Portal in all of Central America, the portal has served as a space for free expression. While inside, Honduran youth and Professors from the Perla Institute high school have engaged in conversations with Americans thousands of miles away, discussing politics, human rights, racism, tourism, food, culture and sharing personal challenges and dreams. In this way, the portal exerts its power, magnifying voices and deconstructing borders, one conversation at a time.
Credits: Video produced by Dylan Cassidy. Portals motion graphics by Anna Rottke, directed by Lilian Mehrel.