MAstars 2010: Satvinder Sehmbey, MA Art & Design

MAstars 2010: Satvinder Sehmbey, MA Art & Design Satvinder Sehmbey, Project Ranj, 2010. Installation

Marguerite Nugent selects Satvinder Sehmbey from the University of Wolverhampton for MAstars

Satvinder Sehmbey is a versatile artist with an impressive range of skills. In addition to the MA in Art and Design that he has just completed at Wolverhampton University he is currently undertaking a BA in Tabla studies at Ravi Music College in Birmingham. Sehmbey uses his music as well as a range of methodologies including photography and digital technology in his practice and his starting point is the visualisation of sound through performance, music and interaction. 

One of the strengths of his degree show presentation is the special care and attention that has been given to engaging the viewer in the process of the work. Interactivity is a key component. ‘Without the participant, my work doesn’t exist', writes the artist in his accompanying statement. He uses a mixture of still and moving imagery and short written statements to explain his journey from inspiration, conception and process through to application. This greatly enhances the viewer’s understanding of the work and puts it in context. The presentation is slick and strikingly clear.

The first film, 'Unknown Strange Dance' is a film of a performance which took place in a Korean park at night. Two dancers improvise to the rhythms of a band of musicians. They begin a little uncertainly but as the sequence progresses a narrative starts to develop and their movements become increasingly interwoven with the rhythm of the sound. This is followed by an explanation of the ideas and influences on Sehmbey’s work. Work by a range of artists working in different disciplines is presented, with painting by Wassily Kandinsky and animation by Oskar Fischinger, including his 1936 film 'Komposition in blau'. Sehmbey next demonstrates the opportunities that new computer hardware and software have offered in the development of new media art. The section concludes with a film of a performance by media artist Toshio Iwai of a collaborative project with Yamaha, where audiences were able to participate in the piece.

The presentation then shifts to photographic images of water, first in black and white and then with colour pigment added. This is the first stage of 'Project Ranj' (2010), a project focusing on how sound can be visually controlled by the participant through the use of new technology. Using sound, in this case the rhythm of the tabla, and computer software participants can manipulate imagery and create their own unique designs. As the beat of the Tabla intensifies the water images transform and the viewer becomes absorbed in the patterns. The result is a mesmerising experience where the senses merge and one becomes increasingly drawn into a different state of consciousness. ‘Ranj’ is the Persian word to ‘colour the mind’ and reflects the concept behind this experimental piece of work.

This body of work takes a subject that artists have grabbled with for many years but approaches it in new and challenging ways. It has been well researched and is skilfully put together. On the basis of this debut, Satvinder Sehmbey, will be someone to watch over the coming years.

Selected by Marguerite Nugent
Published October, 2010

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