Published: March 22, 2017


The University of Colorado Boulder will take global communication to a new level April 3 through May 9 with the opening of a shipping container transformed into a high-tech portal for Skype-like global conversations.

The shipping container features sophisticated life-size screens that allow participants to experience live conversations with people in Herat, Afghanistan; El Progreso, Honduras; Erbil, Iraq; Mexico City, Mexico; and other locations.

Join a chat

Schedule a chat: Time slots for one-on-one exchanges will be available via “open hours” and can be reserved at no cost at the Shared Studios website

CWA talk: Creator and artist Amar Bakshi will be on campus for several Conference on World Affairs panels, including one at 2 p.m. Monday, April 10, that will focus on the portals project.

“It will provide an immersive media experience that connects our community with communities around the world,” said Jeff Motter, associate director of BoulderTalks, a College of Media, Communication and Information center that fosters community and knowledge through democratic engagement.

The installation will be located on the brick plaza between the Gold Biosciences building and Folsom Stadium on Colorado Avenue. It is hosted by CMCI and BoulderTalks.

Ten professors plan to integrate the portal into spring coursework. Students from Professor Pete Simonson’s Senior Seminar on Listening and Conversation will talk with Syrian refugees in Erbil, Iraq, to hear about their experiences and the struggle of fleeing one’s country. Students from Associate Professor David Boromisza-Habashi’s class on Intercultural Communications will connect with people in Mexico City.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from people who live around the world, create empathy about our shared human experience and engage in cross-cultural dialogue with others,” CMCI Dean Lori Bergen said. “This is the kind of experience that is very rare and one that is perfect for our college to make available to the campus and Boulder community.”

In addition to the conversations students and faculty will be having, the public can also sign up to have a conversation. Time slots for one-on-one exchanges will be available via “open hours” and can be reserved at no cost.

The portal installations are managed by Shared Studios and were created in 2014 by artist Amar Bakshi, whose work focuses on how to integrate technology into environments across distance to create new forms of digital-physical public spaces that challenge and subvert existing norms.

Since their launch in 2014, Shared Studios' portals have connected more than 20,000 people around the world.