Apple and the Getty Museum have collaborated to release an immersive William Blake expo by using augmented reality. The installation’s AR, United Visions, was originally crafted for Getty Museum Los Angeles but was displayed in Apple Store London for its grand opening. Technologists Tin Nguyen and Ed Cutting utilized Apple’s M1 Ultra CPU during the development of United Visions.
One of the major works augmented through AR in this selection is William Blake’s The Ghost of a Flea (ca 1819-1820). In Treatise on Zodiacal Physiognomy (1882), John Varley, a close friend of Blake’s, said the work was inspired by Blake’s interpretation of the spirit of the flea. ‘This spirit visited his imagination in such a figure as he never anticipated in an insect.’ Varley said. He elaborated on Blake’s inspiration, explaining that the spirit also reflects those of the souls of men who, subconsciously, were ‘bloodthirsty to excess.’ Other characters from Blake’s works such as a tiger’s head from The Tyger (1794) and an eagle’s head from Beatrice Addressing Dante from the Car (1824-27) were digitally highlighted and showcased in this project.
The release of United Visions serves as a reminder of William Blake’s profound skill and variance as a writer and artist while illuminating his impact as a cultural icon of the late 18th and early 19th century in 21st-century media. His 1794 work, The Ancient of Days, was digitally augmented using multispectral image processing to offer the work as a 50-piece NFT collection sold by the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and Vastari. By making use of generational advancements, more generations will be able to gaze upon his work and learn of his impact through technical interpretation.