THE IDEA behind BS3 is one of community.
In its first iteration, 2016’s BrainStorm, the focus was on shared process. It also set out to create something that our creative community desperately needs: follow-through.
“One of the problems with Savannah is we don’t gain momentum with anything,” says artist Troy Wandzel. “There’s no, ‘Here’s this project, and it keeps going.’”
Memory, momentum and creativity collide in BS3, on display now through Aug. 10 at Sulfur Studios.
Wandzel and A.J. Perez began the project in 2016 as a way to collaborate on a project.
“We were looking to do a project in here, something that had to do with the community and really stemmed from that idea of the wisdom of crowds,” says Wandzel. “That whole idea of the masses working as one unit, ended up being the greater good of the average guest.”
Wandzel and Perez brought wood pieces and paint into the gallery at Sulfur to serve as a springboard for creativity. Beyond that, they just asked people to show up and be creative.
“It was a big community ask. Some people showed up with just their minds and conversation, and some people brought other objects and things into the space,” remembers Perez.
The results were mixed—as it turns out, it’s difficult to be blindly creative.
“Where we thought someone would come in and really make their mark, like how they typically do, it was interesting to see some people being in that setting working with this material that wasn’t squares and rectangles—it was all crazy organic shapes working with that surface area,” says Perez. “There were all these different challenges that people faced and worked around them.”
“I don’t think anybody really was confident with the whole project,” adds Wandzel. “It may be just off-axis enough to not be in their comfort zone, the unfamiliarity of it. Also, people tend to do what other people are doing. People think creativity is imitation. We did have a theme, and that’s really difficult for people.”
“The fact that we were like, ‘We’re just going to take all this material and build some sort of structure out of that corner,’ that was part of the guidelines for what we were looking to do,” says Perez, “without even having a final idea of what it would be, not even a mock ketch or anything. It was a challenge for people—‘Well, what am I doing this for? What is it going towards?’”
With the second iteration, BrainstormRising in 2017, Wandzel and Perez added guest artist Emile Fu to use the exact same materials from BrainStorm and reinterpret that project.
Now, two years later, Wandzel and Perez see a unique opportunity for their third iteration. They’ve painted white over all the wood, removing the previous information, and projecting scenes and sounds onto the boards.
“Now, this has become other elements and the physical piece will be added to it,” says Wandzel. “Now we’re reacting to what the projection does to the space, so instead of having this physical thing and projecting on it, we have to work backwards, which is challenging us and how this place is viewed and how somebody typically shows. You question, ‘Is this right? Is this typical?’ Then we don’t do it.”
The result is a beautiful, introspective experience. Anyone who has been to an exhibition at Sulfur knows that the main gallery has two entry points, one at the front and one at the back. For BS3, entry is limited to the back space. The walls are completely white, as are the curved wood panels affixed to the walls, and the projection of light onto them creates an almost ethereal feeling. Step further into the gallery to see the videos from the previous iterations, splashing the colors and sounds around the room. By virtue of the projection, you as the viewer are inserted into the project—your shadowed figure joins the people at a reception from 2016.
That’s exactly what Perez and Wandzel wanted.
“That’s what these projections should be representing to us: a flicker of memory, a ghostlike sort of residual that happen when you take it off of the physical pieces,” says Wandzel.
“There’s that other element of the past and present and future coexisting in one space and then again playing back to memory,” adds Perez. “For those who were here and experienced the first and second ones, to be able to view I in a whole other way, it’ll be interesting to see the reaction from those who were here and also to maybe see themselves.”
As Wandzel points out, there are people in the video footage that have since passed away, like Kim Evans and Bobi Perry, giving the experience a transcendent feeling.
Now, the project will evolve into something else entirely, as it was designed.
“We want this to grow and expand exponentially quickly, but we realized that isn’t the case, so it became more drawn out year by year,” says Wandzel. “It’s still moving, but that momentum is one of the things our community lacks. We have these little moments, pop-up moments and things that are temporary. We talked about other ways to do [this project], like doing guerrilla-style sculptures from these things on the Jepson and then the next day it’s somewhere else. There have been expanding ideas constantly, so we’re keeping that momentum between each other hoping it just catches on. Once it gets traction, there’ll be more phases—it could move to another town.”
It will be interesting to see what future iterations of BrainStorm become.
“A.J. cares more about the community aspect than I do; I just want to be impressed,” laughs Wandzel. “It’s the idea of passing the torch in some way—you want to see phase four like, ‘I didn’t imagine that and I can’t believe that became that.’ That’s what I hope for.”