Updated April 25, 2019​ 

Sri Lanka Express

Books, Arts, Entertainment

Facebook testing new business model in Sri Lanka, 5 other countries

Facebook is testing in Sri Lanka and five other countries to find out if people prefer to have separate places for personal and public content.

As part of the new test, Facebook is taking content from publishers and businesses out of its main feed and placing them in a separate, hard-to-find feed that Facebook recently launched for discovering new stuff, called the “Explore Feed.”

The social media giant says the point is to give people two feeds: One with stuff from their friends and family, and the other from businesses and publishers.

Here’s the full statement from Facebook:“With all of the possible stories in each person's feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages. To understand if people like these two different spaces, we will test a few things, such as how people engage with videos and other types of posts. These tests will start in Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia. We have no current plans to roll this out globally.”:

Sri Lankan-born designer's Freedom Sculpture puts Santa Monica Blvd. on the world map

You can't miss it if you're driving down historic Route 66, on Santa Monica Boulevard just outside the Westfield Century City mall, a thriving hub of high-end retail shops and eating places on the border of  Beverly Hills.  And if you're Sri Lankan, you can't help that little smugness that comes from knowing that the 20,000-pound stainless steel monument dubbed The Freedom Sculpture, set upon travertine stone in a permanent spot on the meridian, seen by thousands of motorists, and considered a symbol of cultural diversity by the City of Los Angeles, is the creation of internationally renowned Sri Lankan-British designer Cecil Balmond OBE.   Read more. 

Experience Ruwanwelisaya in Washington, DC

Sri Lanka Express News
August 1, 2017

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s Sackler gallery in Washington, DC  will be able to experience rituals at Sri Lanka’s Ruwanwelisaya through a three-channel digital film as part of the museum’s upcoming exhibition exploring the rich Buddhist heritage of  Asia.

“Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia,” opening Oct. 14  and on view through October 2020 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, reveals how art and place are central to Buddhist understanding and teachings.

“With more than 250 objects, two immersive environments and integrated digital platforms, the exhibition shares the stories of Buddhist objects and artworks, describing the beings that they represent and the people who engaged with them, their ritual use, their sacred power and their remarkable beauty.

“By juxtaposing sculptures, fascinating objects and sacred sites, we show how Buddhist visual culture conveys profound and often universal concepts, such as compassion or the urge to move beyond suffering,” said Debra Diamond, the Freer|Sackler’s curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. 

The exhibition examines Buddhism through a wide lens, touching upon the religion’s diverse expressions by considering objects that span the Buddhist world and Buddhist traditions. Two experiential spaces, one centered on a public site, the other evoking a domestic shrine, present specific examples of the interplay of place and practice.

The first immersive space features a three-channel digital film titled The Texture of Practice: Sri Lanka’s Great Stupa. Projected onto three large screens, this meditative installation invites visitors to experience a living Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. Tradition holds that the site, the Ruwanwelisaya stupa, was created in the third century B.C. to enshrine relics of the Historical Buddha; it remains the locus of vibrant activity today. Created exclusively for this exhibition, the film installation conveys the stupa’s enduring potency through the daily practices of monks, nuns and laypeople during the December full-moon (Poya) festival.

The second immersive installation is the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room.

Throughout the exhibition, digital tablets invite visitors to choose their own paths for further learning.   Among the tablets is one that permits visitors to explore the rituals taking place at the Ruwanwelisaya, Sri Lanka’s oldest stupa.

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., together comprise the nation’s contains one of the most important collections of Asian art in the world, featuring more than 40,000 objects ranging in time from the Neolithic to the present day.

Books, Art, Entertainment  (click here for older posts)

Sri Lanka: Beyond the beaches

Aoife Carrigy freewheels her way around the Indian Ocean island's wild interior.

"We debrief before heading into the jungle. "Stay close," our guide Sagara instructs us gravely. "And if you see an elephant, drop your bike and jump in the van.... It's the first time I've really considered meeting an elephant on a bicycle.