Apple is teaming up with Getty to unleash some William Blake-inspired augmented reality demons at its new London store

William Blake’s artwork is known for its highly charged spiritual energy. Now they get a high-tech new incarnation in United Visions, an augmented reality (AR) experience from creative technologists Tin&Ed (Tin Nguyen and Edward Cutting), developed in collaboration with Apple for the Getty Museum.

The tech giant’s purpose-built Blake app will be unveiled as part of the launch of its newest London office in Brompton Road, where you can book in for sessions to see it demonstrated. (Note: Experience requires iPhone 11, iPad Pro, or newer Apple device.)

As users survey the space around them through the app’s window, they encounter fantastical creatures recognizable from some of Blake’s most famous works. These life-size apparitions were modeled using 3D software and brought to life using motion capture technology.

Among the monsters seen are large snakes, a frequent motif for Blake. Tin&Ed were specifically inspired by Satan exults over Eve (1795), a picture in the Getty and Tate Collections.

William Blake, Satan exults over Eve (1795). Photo by Ben Davis.

In a statement, the duo promised that the AR work “leaves Blake’s imagination wide open.” United Visions sets out to celebrate the hybrid nature of Blake’s angels, demons and beasts, they wrote, “No identities are fixed. Instead, they undergo constant transformation, creating and dissolving themselves.”

The Just Blaze app’s soundtrack also helps carry Blake’s visionary interweaving of poetry and art into the modern age. The hip-hop producer, who has worked with Jay-Z, Drake and Beyoncé in the past, included some of Blake’s own verse, including The Tiger read by his son Solomon Smith, as well as other lines by the “urban poet and actor” Oveous Maximus.

Tin&Ed are Australian artists based in New York. Both are members of NEW INC, an arts and technology incubator run by the New Museum. They have previously shown work at the Rockefeller Center in New York, the Sydney Opera House and the Barbican Center in London.

The new commission follows the trend seen in popular shows like Immersive Van Gogh and Frida: The Immersive Experience to engage with precious art historical figures through the lens of immersive modern technologies. Previously, Apple has partnered with the New Museum to work on AR experiences with contemporary artists like Nick Cave.

This isn’t William Blake’s first tech spin either. Last year, the artist The Ancient of Days (1794) was digitized using multispectral image analysis, producing a similarly striking but more evocative effect. This work was sold as a series of 50 NFTs at the Hic Et Nunc marketplace by the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester in partnership with Vastari.

A major exhibition of Blake’s work is planned for late next year at the Getty.

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