For those unfamiliar, an isovist is a term that describes the total visible space from a given point, including the point itself. Isovists play roles in areas of study such as architecture and computational geometry, amongst others. The concept of an isovist perhaps appeals in its comfortableness as an exactitude; viewing becomes a phenomenological and positivist experience, we compress to a simpler understanding, to the seen and the unseen.
As an example of the isovists ability to delineate between the seen and the unseen, we turn to the Art Gallery Problem, an explored concern in the field of computational geometry. The heart of the problem asks 'How do you cover an art gallery with as few invigilators as possible, whilst still ensuring the whole gallery is supervised?'. Computer scientist Václav Chvátal solved this conundrum in 1975; a gallery can always be covered by the number of corners in the gallery, divided by three. Within this discovery comes a proven rule, a determination of what can be controlled and known.
The term enforces the notion that some elements can not be seen. We admit there are things we cannot ingest immediately through our given senses. So, what of this 'other', the unseen? One of the aims of Isovist is to help indulge these crevices; a concession back to the out-of-shot. Art not isolated, but repositioned with respect to the artist and the viewer, finding meaning through the totality of these elements.
As with any concept, however appealing, we must examine it critically. There is a concession that the binary logic of the isovist can be reductionist. Indeed, to see cannot be condensed to an algorithmic or even phenomenological experience. To be human is to process, to interpret, to connect to other signs and signifiers. Seeing is unable to be prised from feeling and the rest of the human condition that follows.
The project has stemmed from a wanting to contextualise the work experienced in physical spaces, whilst also giving those artists the platform to speak directly. The desired outcome here is to better understand the 'out of view'. Often, even when the artist is present in these spaces, there can be depths in conversation that get evaded or feel out of context over the light patter and prepaid drinks of a private view. The aim is to offer such a context and tease out the subtleties of the art, the practice and the artist. The dialogues enacted in these interviews will help make space for the complexities of their works.
Isovist as a project aims to give spotlights to emerging UK artists, predominantly through the form of written interviews about their practice. In the next few weeks, we hope to post our first selection of interviews. In the future, there is a hope that Isovist will expand beyond this towards other facets such as exhibition reviews, online exhibitions, collections of art writing and potential collaborations with galleries or arts organisations.
If you are interested in talking more, feel free to message the Isovist Instagram account or drop us an email.
Published 09 May 2020