The Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Preservation is a not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2009 in Madrid. It works alongside its sister company, Factum Arte: a multi-disciplinary workshop in Madrid dedicated to digital mediation in contemporary art and the production of facsimiles.
Factum Foundation aims to:
1) Use non-contact recording methods to document cultural heritage sites and objects to the highest possible standards.
2) Change attitudes towards the digital recording of cultural heritage, encouraging the creation of permanent and accessible public records of important objects and artworks.
3) Develop new recording and display technologies, and new uses for existing technologies.
4) Create practical, secure archiving and display systems for high-resolution data.
5) Create facsimiles of recorded objects – copies so accurate that the naked eye cannot tell them apart from the original – and use these facsimiles to do things which the originals cannot: to allow fragile objects to travel, fragmented objects to be reassembled, and untouchable objects to be touched.
6) Develop new techniques of digital preservation and restoration, expanding the range of possibilities open to curators and conservators by allowing objects to be restored in the virtual realm.
7) Share recording skills and technologies as widely as possible. The Foundation has set up training courses and centers in locations from Egypt to Dagestan to create local experts in digital preservation who are able to record their own cultural heritage.
8) Make digital records of works of art accessible to the widest possible public through the Creative Commons model.
9) Develop exhibitions that allow audiences to understand the dynamic nature of objects, using digital models and physical facsimiles to challenge the idea that an object in its current state – perhaps restored, damaged, and enhanced over a period of centuries – is the only key to understanding and appreciating that object.
10) Play an active role in the international effort to develop shared principles for the digital recording, archiving, and dissemination of cultural heritage.
11) Leave to future generations an archive of raw, unmanipulated data which they can analyse according to their own questions and perspectives and using their own technologies, allowing them to inherit the past in a condition in which they can study it in-depth and emotionally engage with it.
Iconoclastic destruction, mass tourism, war, natural disasters, imperfect restoration and commercial exploitation all pose serious threats to the preservation of many great works of art and culture. The conservation and preservation communities have realized the importance of high-resolution digital recording and this data is starting to be integrated into professional protocols and the discourse surrounding preservation. Central to this shift of attitude is a fundamental reappraisal of the cardinal role facsimiles can acquire when installed in their original location, or even when displaced and presented afresh in touring exhibitions. Facsimiles evidence the quality of the data retrievable through high-resolution recording. They are useful tools both to monitor the changes the original objects undergo throughout their existence and to raise awareness amongst the growing number of visitors that the preservation of the past is a delicate and difficult act. It is necessary to investigate an object’s historical and physical composition in order to develop better ways to protect it.
What people are saying:
"... But perhaps the most radical achievement of Factum, and one that’s acutely welcome in our new world of lockdown, is the way its creations can dissolve museum walls and reconnect their treasures not just with new audiences but with the raw, real world they came from. Lowe is certainly no fan of the way great art gets isolated and fetishised."
The Guardian - November 2020
"Technology, provided again by Factum Arte, enables the juxtaposition of a facsimile of Raphael’s Cartoon of 'The Sacrifice at Lystra' (around 1515-16) with the respective Vatican tapestry. The educational impact for the general public is indisputible: now scholars have to face the challenge of inserting these new tools into their research and exploiting their potential, before they are once more outwitted by commercial applications. The exhibition implicitly urges collaborations beyond the borders of museums and disciplines."
Review in The Art Newspaper - July 2020
"Factum's facsimiles have helped create a discussion around the idea that originality is not a fixed state."
The Art Newspaper - Spring 2020
"‘The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality is essential reading for everyone in the art, museum, and cultural heritage field. It is an extraordinary collection comprising some fifty essays by art historians and professionals in museums, architecture, the sciences, ethics, indigenous rights and other fields. Altogether, it is remarkable work of advocacy for connecting individuals, communities and countries through art.
The book and its many influential authors go far beyond the convention-bound approaches of institutions such as UNESCO and ICOMOS to challenge how we think about monuments and objects of art – how we stockpile or share them, and how digitization and documentation can facilitate a new dialog about art across cultures.
Kate Fitz Gibbon
Cultural Property News - Spring 2020
"Lowe ha trasformato la sua ossessione, registrare la superficie delle cose, in un argomento fondamentale per la preservazione e la condivisione del patrimonio artistico minacciato dal tempo, dalla follia umana, dal cambiamento climatico."
Vogue Italia - Spring 2020
"Indeed, the healing of historical wounds has become an essential aspect of Factum Arte’s endeavours, as, fittingly for a postquantum era, it enables iconic objects to exist in two places simultaneously."
Country Life Magazine - Summer 2019
“Factum preserves evidence, neither reconstructing nor reformulating narratives.”
Harpers Bazaar Arabia - Autumn 2018
“The vast size of many of the artworks in Factum, combined with the high-tech carving and 3D printing machinery, gives room after room the air of a Willy Wonka factory, but one where art, not candy, is the treat of choice. Lowe, who presides over all of it, is here to make sure that the artists who enter have the tools, technology, and support staff to make whatever they dream up.”
Bloomberg - March 2018
“Reproduction today by companies of this sort of quality, we see, is more than just a technical achievement - it is the window to lost works, to mysterious worlds of great beauty, and is a vital educational tool helping bring the stories of myriad cultures to a much wider audience."
Lucia van der Post
Spears - May/June 2018
“Bringing together these strands – technical, human, aesthetic – combined with fanatical attention to detail has secured the company’s reputation.”
Patek Philippe - October 2017
"That immaculate eye for detail is typical of the work of Factum Arte, a Madrid-based studio whose combination of digital analysis with assiduous craft is transforming the way we see art. I have been watching their work develop for nearly a decade. I am now convinced it is the most important thing happening in 21st-century art – because it can quite literally save civilisation."
The Guardian - February 2017
“The point is not just to save those tombs. It is also to challenge our assumptions about what we think is original, or authentic, in a work of art.”
Christie’s Magazine - November 2015
"The projects of the Factum Foundation involve some of the most urgent and exciting developments in contemporary cultural heritage. Digital artisans and their collaborative skills are so impressive that it’s easy to imagine that objects’ conservation and reproduction simply leave things just as they are, unchanged and immortal. But the enterprise of documentation through advanced digital recording has the power entirely to transform the worlds of material culture and alter the forms of memory and artistry they sustain. The challenges of these new kinds of digital objects and cultural memories must be collectively understood and productively directed. Wounded artifacts may sometimes need heroic surgery, but they always need nursing, forms of artful care that sustain objects’ lives and maintain their vivacity. This is why the Factum Foundation needs every support in its plans to encourage state of the art digital curatorship, and to use this curatorship to help transform the arts of the cultural state."
Professor of History and the Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge & author/presenter of Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams, a BBC documentary - 2013
"The exhibition Mindful Hands that opened last night at the Cini Foundation sets a new high standard for exhibitions on medieval miniatures... The design by the architect (Studio Michele de Lucci) of the display is breathtaking, the miniatures themselves spectacular (some of the best in the world) and in great condition and beautifully lit to be appreciated. This collection is one of the largest and most important worldwide and it has never been exhibited or fully catalogued and only a tiny part ever studied. There is a video by Adam Lowe of Factum Arte that is a work of genius (on making medieval manuscripts), also breathtaking. It is, quite literally, the very best show of its kind I have ever seen, and I've seen them all for the last nearly 50 years."
Professor Emeritus of Art History, Northwestern University, after the opening of the exhibition Mindful Hands. Masterpieces of Illumination, 2016
"Because it connects the most advanced technology with the deepest care for the materiality, history and intricacies of works of art, Factum Arte occupies now a central place at the crossroads of all the issues concerning the restoration, conservation and politics of treasures spread in many different countries. What the Factum Arte team has managed to assemble allows for a set of skills impossible to find anywhere else to not only probe deeply into works so as to reproduce them, but also, to produce new works of art. Or rather, it has given to the words ‘reproduce’ and ‘facsimile’ a completely new sense and direction that has become synonymous with creation and innovation."
Sociologist of Science and anthropologist, Professor at Sciences Po, Paris & recipient of the Holberg Prize - 2013
“Whether to rewrite history or reinterpret masterpieces, replicas made with a palette of high-tech tools are changing the way tourists see art.”
Wall Street Journal - March 2010
"Ces magiciens du numérique sont aussi des érudits et des pédagogues des arts anciens. Ils opéraient jusqu’ici en ordre dispersé."
Académie Française and Académie des Inscriptions, Emeritus Professor of Rhetoric and Society in Europe, Collège de France, recipient of the Balzac Prize - 2001
"La muestra que se exhibe ahora en Madrid, en CaixaForum, “Las artes de Piranesi, arquitecto, grabador, anticuario, vedutista y diseñador”, es extraordinaria. Tiene, entre otros, el mérito de mostrar buen número de los objetos que Piranesi concibió y diseñó pero nunca llegó a ver materializados, pues eran demasiado excéntricos e insólitos para el gusto de sus contemporáneos. Los ha producido, con escrupulosa fidelidad y utilizando la tecnología más avanzada, el laboratorio madrileño Factum Arte que dirige Adam Lowe. Esos candelabros, trípodes, sillas, chimeneas, adornos, apliques, jarrones en los que Piranesi dio rienda suelta a su desbocada fantasía y su amor por las civilizaciones del pasado – Roma, Egipto, los etruscos – fascinan casi tanto como las invenciones carcelarias que lo han hecho famoso o las Vistas de esa Roma de los siglos grandiosos que él creyó documentar en sus grabados cuando en realidad la rehacía e inventaba."
Mario Vargas Llosa,
Nobel Prize winner in Literature - 2010
"At a time when control over big data is one of the most vital issues we face, Factum Arte is a leader in its field, providing cutting-edge technology and an ethical approach to conservation and artistic practice that offers international best practice for anyone working in the arts and humanities. Their remarkable fusion of art, science and digital technology has created unsurpassed methods of 3D scanning and printing that is transforming our understanding of originals and facsimiles. From the surface of an Old Master painting, to the recreation of Egyptian tombs and previously unrealised designs by Piranesi, Factum Arte leads the way in understanding how we can retain the integrity of the cultural heritage of the past, and preserve it for the future."
Professor of Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary’s, University of London. Author of A History of the World in Twelve Maps
"The gift of the facsimile is a metaphor for the relationship between Europe and Egypt - the skills and technology that have been developed in Europe to create the facsimile are going to be transferred to Egypt where the local workers will be trained and those very skills and technology will become Egyptian"
EU High Representative on the occasion of giving the facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun to Egypt; Cairo - November 14th 2012
|Adam Lowe||Juan Carlos Arias||Carmen G. Figueras||Damián López Rojo||Rafa Rachewsky||Carlos Bayod Lucini|
|Blanca Nieto||Dwight Perry||Pedro de Miró Infante||Gabriel Scarpa||Francesco Cigognetti||María Carmen Pascual|
|Michael Ward||Angel Jorquera||José Menéndez||Carlos Alonso||Manuel Franquelo||Aliaa Ismail|
|Aniuska Martín||Jorge Cano||Isabel Fernández||Charlie Westgarth||Jordi García Pons||Otto Lowe|
|Ferdinand Saumarez Smith||Giulia Fornaciari||Voula Paraskevi Natsi||Natalia P. Buesa||Silvia Álvarez||Carlos Sanz Sayalero|
|Ana de las Heras||Jacinto de Manuel||Oak Taylor-Smith||Quinner Baird||Irene Gaumé||Eduardo L. Rodríguez|
|Iván Allende||Teresa Casado||Miguel Hernando||Victoria Matatagui||Nicolas Béliard||Oscar Parasiego|
|Esperanza González||Amanda Blázquez||Florencio Martínez||Matt Marshall||Osama Dawod||Celestia Antrusther|
|Nathaniel Mann||René Servisi||Larissa van Morsel||Ricardo Renedo||Pedro Salafranca|
|In Memoriam: Piers Wardle|