The Australian artist duo Tin Nugyen and Ed Cutting have brought to life an animated installation that will be displayed in a new Apple store in London, the Art Newspaper reports. Originally conceived for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the installation is available to view through an augmented reality app called United Visions, which shares its name with the project itself.
United Visions is a modern-day spin on the works of William Blake, in particular the creature he painted in The Spirit of the Flea (ca. 1819–20). That creature is humanoid that looks impossibly strong, with a stunted neck and a misshapen skull.
Blake’s longtime friend John Varley explained that the painting was inspired by a spiritual vision of the ghost of a flea. “This spirit visited his imagination in such a figure as he never anticipated in an insect,” Varney is quoted as saying in wall text that has accompanied the work when it has been exhibited by Tate Britain in London, which owns the Blake piece.
The augmented reality works bring Blake’s flea spirit to life as five or six 3D animated figures that have been spliced with other creatures from Blake’s works. A tiger’s head is borrowed from Blake’s his poem “The Tyger” (1794), and an eagle’s head is lifted from Blake’s depictions of St. John the Baptist.
The installation includes an auditory element conceived by musician Just Blaze, who set Blake’s poetry, including works as “The Tyger,” to music. Accompanying that music are words read by Just Blaze’s son and the rapper and poet Oveous Maximus.