The Vimana Kiranaavarta Observatory

Audio portion featured in Syma Tariq's project: A Thousand Channels - Asymmetrical Islands:

Colombo scope, Sri Lanka, Shadow Scenes, Curated by Natasha Ginwala and Menika van del Poorten, 2015

At the top of Colombo’s semi-abandoned, Rio complex building, audiences are invited to sit in one of five chairs. The chairs are fitted with headphones for a sound component and a slow motor that threads through the ceiling and that lowers a block of wood in front of them as they listen.

This work refers to the mythical belief that the tops of buildings used to be flying machines, Vimanas, that came to rest above constructions throughout Sri Lanka. The text in the sound element uses the venue as a vantage point from where one can see the history of the surrounding area as a botanical past or a post-apocalyptic future. The soundtrack narrates the landscape in a slow descent whilst describing the flora that used to be found in the kilometres that are, or would be, visible from this perspective.

With excerpts from “Vimana Shastra” by Maharshi Bharadwaaja and R.L Brohier’s “The Changing Face of Colombo”.

Text: Pedro Gómez-Egaña with excerpts from the Vymaanika Shaastra by Subbaraya Shastry and A Descent into the Maelström by Edgar Allan Poe
Research Advisor: Deborah Philip
Technical Assistance: Lakruwan mallawaarchchi
Dramaturgical Advisor: Bojana Bauer
Development Advisor: Anne-Cécile Sibué-Birkeland


At the top, the crowning art event, so to speak, was sitting in a chair and putting on headphones and listening to Colombian artist Pedro Gomez-Egana intoning a prose poem about descending on the country in a mythical flying machine and taking in the view – a fantasia of real and imagined landscapes.

From review at The Sunday Times by Stephen Prins

WIth the support of the Goethe Institut - Sri Lanka and the Bergen Academy of Art and Design


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