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Downtown portal connects Colorado Springs to cities worldwide

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

You've probably seen it, the big golden box sitting out in front of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum downtown. Well, it's called a portal and was put there by the folks at Imagination Celebration ahead of this year's What If Festival.

"We love starting off with this mysterious gold box to begin with and trying to gin up people's curiosity because we feel like curiosity is really, really important," said Imagination Celebration Executive Director Deborah Thornton.

It's called a portal because when you step inside, you're technologically transported to another part of the world. A floor to ceiling projector displays a life-sized a live video conference call connected to a second portal thousands of miles away. The portals were created a group called Shared Studios, and are currently located in 20 cities worldwide.

On Saturday afternoon, local musician Archtop Eddy and his friends were performing for a group of people in Mexico City.

"It's an exciting opportunity to try something different," Eddy said.

Deborah asked Eddy and some of her other artist and musician friends to be the first to try out the portal.  She wants to share our "mountain of talent" with the rest of the world.

"We feel like this is a giant 'what if,'" Thornton said. "What if you could walk into the internet and what if you met a stranger from another side of the world? What would you talk about?"

The artists didn't quite know what to expect.

"It's not like just going there and visiting because you're put into almost an awkward situation where you sort of have to feel it out, you know, you're not even sure you can speak the same language," said artist Sean O'Meallie.

The surroundings inside the portal are identical on both sides of the camera, intentionally. That way the borders between countries can seem smaller, and cultural differences a little more distant.

"You feel a commonality, that's the important thing," said artist Senga Nengudi Fittz. "You kind of embrace each others differences as they say."

For Archtop Eddy, it represents a higher state of global consciousness.

"It was kind of like this is the stone age to the space age that's coming up ahead of us as in which the world is going to be really connected by whole means of ways other than just person to person connections."

The portal will stay outside of the Pioneers museum until the beginning of the What If Festival on September 9. It's free for the public to use. However, participants are encouraged to book a 20 minute window in advance.

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