Colomboscope's on its fourth annual installment now. A festival celebrating contemporary and multidisciplinary arts, this edition explores digital culture, and how Sri Lanka is making its way in an increasingly digitized global space. With over 50 local and international artists, the space draws you in and the exhibits range from clinical to tactile.
You can also dabble in a couple of workshops, free film screenings, and renditions of performance theatre.
After seeing this year's venue for Cinnamon Colomboscope, we weren't quite as wistful for 2014's Whist Bungalow. The Old General Post Office is an essay in erstwhile colonial glamour, all warped wooden floors and crumbling Grecian pillars.
The venue's dilapidated chic wasn't the only reason for the organizers' choice. There's a strong thematic correlation between the General Post Office's century-long purpose as the island's primary communication hub and the festival's purpose of opening dialogue on digital culture, technology, and art.
The old GPO lends a musty gravitas to the exhibits, and we had a great time just wafting around, exploring, and photographing. Keep an eye out for the gorgeous Edwardian windows with their peeling paint and the high, wooden ceilings.
Wondering why you should go all the way out to Fort? Frankly because Colombo doesn't really see a lot of inspired initiatives of local and global art. Shying away from the usual barriers created by having to produce feasible or commercially-appealing art, the artists and performers have been given free reign to create art, for art's sake.
Some of it won't resonate, while some may reel you in with the sheer innovation of medium used. One of the pieces that stood out to me was Emerge + Tech, an installation that features touch sensors that set off soothing xylophone water-conduced sounds in plants. It explores the relationship between humans and nature, and the lilting gongs are a sensory representation of that.
The Colombo Project also stood out, again for its physical manifestation of the socio-economic divide in Sri Lanka's residential areas, and how this effects communication. It's a beautiful and serene walk-through, so take your time.
The cutting social commentary of YAMU veteran Imaad's Revery is a vibrant look at concepts of identity, minority politics, and questions of Sri Lankan digital culture. We highly recommend it, not just because we're nepotistic. Walking up the stairs, keep an ear out for Daniel Keller's "arbitrary profundity" of the Ted Talks Tag Cloud Coconut, and make your way up to the visual beauty of the Ramadan Project.
Personally, I found "Seance" incredibly emotive. A mechanical sound installation reflecting "routine human actions like working, sleeping, etc", the room is fitted out with devices that spasm or sharply tap the wall whenever key words are tweeted in different time zones. It's a bit jarring watching the "help" mechanism going off.
We're also keen to check out Close to the Bone, an immersive performance through which the audience will be allowed digital insight into character's streams of consciousness via their mobile phones.
Opening Hours for the exhibits :
|12 NOON – 10 PM
|27/08 & 28/08 (Saturday & Sunday)
|10 AM – 10 PM
|29/08 – 01/08 (Monday – Thursday)
|12 NOON – 10 PM
Admission is free for all events and exhibits except for Close to the Bone. Tickets for the performances from Friday- Thursday will be sold at the Goethe Institut.
Peckish, thirsty, and down for a stroll? Head to the shiny new repub.lk or the less shiny Grand Oriental Hotel's Harbour Room to soak in some drink after you're done soaking in all the culture. Feeling some crab? If you're fancy head down the street to Ministry of Crab. If you're not fancy, go to Mayura.