<i>The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation</i>
The Materiality of the Aura. New Technologies for Preservation

On the second floor of Palazzo Fava, as part of the exhibition The Revealed Masterpiece that celebrates the return to Bologna of the Polittico Griffoni, visitors will be able to muse upon and engage with different applications of technology. The exhibition, curated by Adam Lowe, Guendalina Damone and designed by Carlos Bayod Lucini will explore the role of digital technology and reflect upon an object’s materiality and its “aura”.

The exhibition is open on appointment only from May 18th until the end of 2020. Visitors can purchase the tickets on Genus Bononiae's website.

Each of the six rooms will allow the visitor to engage with works of art in new ways, showcasing projects carried out by Factum Foundation since its creation in 2009. The city of Bologna, where Factum Foundation has been involved in projects since 2010, is the unifying factor tying together many of the rooms.

‘The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future’ (Silvana Editoriale, 2020) is a collection of essays looking at a variety of themes revealed by the application of new technologies in cultural heritage: from emerging machine-learning and artificial intelligence to access to digital information and the training of locals to carry out diverse types of digital recording resulting in the effective preservation and sharing of cultural heritage. The book is meant to accompany the exhibition and can be purchased from Factum Foundation's shop or read online.

Learn more about the exhibition

Chief Sylvanus "Orlando" Akong
Chief Sylvanus "Orlando" Akong


It is with great sadness that Factum Foundation reports the passing of Chief Sylvanus Akong, known to his friends as Orlando, and recognised by all as a friend of the Bakor monoliths.

In his early career, Orlando was an educator and he successfully founded and ran two schools. Then, in 1983 he was appointed by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, at the recommendation of the great Nigerian archaeologist Ekpo Eyo, as the curator of the Alok Open Air Museum, located in his home village.

Respected and admired throughout the Bakor communities, Orlando was an invaluable source of knowledge and help to UNICAL, ABU, Factum Foundation and the Trust for African Rock Art's collaborative project to preserve the monoliths and he will be sorely missed by all those who encountered him.

For more information about the project, click here.

Preliminary research and diagnostics begin on <i>The Assumption of Mary and Saints</i>
Preliminary research and diagnostics begin on The Assumption of Mary and Saints

The Assumption of Mary and Saints attributed to the workshops of Sandro Botticelli, in the Monumental Complex of Pilotta in Parma was the winner of the Bando Lucida 2020, a competition for the analysis through 3d technology of the artwork and its restoration sponsored by Open Care and Factum Foundation with the support of Euromobiliare Advisory SIM.

The artwork has entered the preliminary phase of research and diagnostics preceding its future restoration within the Open Care facilities.

Learn more about Lucida Lab

Learn more about Lucida 3D Scanner

This Week in Art - Can tech recreate the hand of an Old Master? (April 2020)

Ahead of the three live discussions in collaboration with The Art Newspaper on 1, 2, 3 May 2020, Adam Lowe, founder of Factum Foundation, was interviewed by Ben Luke of This Week in Art on how technologies like digital scanning and artificial intelligence (AI) are being used to create facsimiles of historic paintings.

1/2/3 May 2020: Online discussions organised by The Art Newspaper and Factum Foundation, with Il Giornale dell'Arte
1/2/3 May 2020: Online discussions organised by The Art Newspaper and Factum Foundation, with Il Giornale dell'Arte

The three, 80-minute, online discussions brought together contributors to Factum Foundation’s new book, The Aura in The Age of Digital Materiality – Rethinking Preservation in the Shadow of an Uncertain Future, with other experts from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. The discussions considered the increasing prominence of high-resolution recordings of cultural heritage and their place in the display spaces of the present and the future.

Discussion 1 - Friday 1 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST
Discussion 2 - Saturday 2 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST
Discussion 3 - Sunday 3 May - 17:00 BST, 12:00 EST

More information about the event here

Recording the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Niccolò dell'Arca in Bologna

The sculptural group of the Compianto sul Cristo morto (Lamentation over the Dead Christ) by Niccolò dell’Arca is located in the main chapel of the Church of Santa Maria della Vita, Bologna. The fragility of the seven terracotta statues led Factum Foundation, in collaboration with Genus Bononiae, to record the group in December 2019, as part of the exhibition La Materialità dell’Aura at Palazzo Fava, commissioned by Fabio Roversi Monaco.

While the primary aim of the recording was to provide accurate data for condition monitoring, it will also facilitate new research into the figures, particularly with regard to their original positioning. In the current display, the terracotta figures are fixed to the ground, with visitors and scholars kept at a safe distance from the group. Learn more about the project

A film by Óscar Parasiego and Otto Lowe for Factum Foundation

Progress following the recording in Easter Island: the eye of the Moai?
Progress following the recording in Easter Island: the eye of the Moai?

In early March, a team of photogrammetry and LiDAR experts from Factum Foundation travelled to Easter Island at the suggestion of Francisco Torres Hochstetter, to start a high-resolution recording initiative made possible by a generous donation from Sir Paul Ruddock.

During this trip, Pedro Miró and Ferdinand Saumarez Smith recorded an object regarded as an "eye" of the Moai, found in 1978 and now in the Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert. The data has been processed into a 3D render that can be shared with experts to help with further studies.

Will it be possible to match the "eyes” to specific Moai in the future? High-resolution recording and new technologies are making many things possible.

Learn more about the recordings on Easter Island

Photogrammetry training with two students from Saudi Arabia in collaboration with RCU and Art Jameel
Photogrammetry training with two students from Saudi Arabia in collaboration with RCU and Art Jameel

In November 2019, two students from Saudi Arabia, Jawharah Albalawi and Abdulrahim Sugair, started a two-week photogrammetry training in Factum Foundation’s headquarters in Madrid. The training was the second step of a collaborative project between Factum Foundation, Art Jameel, and the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU).

It was conducted by Factum’s 3D expert Otto Lowe and Art Jameel's senior programme manager for heritage, Fatima Mazeh, who spent two weeks in the town of AlUla in 2018, teaching a group of fifteen residents how to record cultural heritage. The local students were first taught of the core concepts and technical processes behind photogrammetry and were then able to practically apply this knowledge to the recording of three different petroglyph sites in the vicinity of AlUla.

This course in Madrid aimed to teach them the more complex elements of photogrammetry so that they could return to AlUla and teach fellow Saudi nationals how to record cultural heritage using the techniques. This will enable them to create a local team with the knowledge, skills and experience to responsibly safeguard their cultural heritage, in line with the RCU's Cultural Manifesto and overall plans to welcome the world to AlUla in October 2020.

You can now watch the full video about this project on our Vimeo.

New publication available: <i>The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future</i>
New publication available: The Aura in the Age of Digital Materiality. Rethinking preservation in the shadow of an uncertain future

This publication focuses on Factum Foundation's work to promote the use of high-resolution recording, digital restoration and creative re-materialisation while bringing into focus the changing attitudes towards owning, sharing, preserving and displaying cultural artefacts. It accompanies the exhibition 'La Riscoperta di un Capolavoro' (12 March - 28 June 2020, currently postponed) at Palazzo Fava, Bologna.

Order now from Factum Foundation's shop

Read the online version

New video available: <I>A quick guide to Factum’s multi-layered browsers</I>
New video available: A quick guide to Factum’s multi-layered browsers

Factum Foundation has developed a multi-layered browser that enables the visualisation of the 3D scanned relief data, as well as the colour data of digitised artifacts, at an extremely high resolution. The multi-layered viewers allow you to move around the scanned surfaces and zoom into macro-level photographic data with a resolution of 400 dpi on a scale of 1:1. This allows the inspection of every single detail of the artifact, from any computer screen or mobile device.

Surface relief data has been recorded either with Factum’s Lucida 3D Scanner or with photogrammetry. Colour data has been recorded using either panoramic photography or photogrammetry and all colour management has been performed by Factum. Please note that different monitors, display screens or browsers can all give different impressions of the colour data.

Other data such as X-Ray and Infrared, if shown in a viewer, has been provided by the owner of the object and mapped onto the relief or colour data by Factum.

This new video will help you understand how to navigate the browsers.
Access Tutankhamun's Tomb browser
Access Factum's browsers

New recording on Isla de Pascua
New recording on Isla de Pascua

In early March, a team from Factum Foundation travelled to Easter Island to collaborate on a series of projects with the Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert. The first items to be recorded were a collection of painted stone panels from the Birdman Cult period that were removed from their original location at a site called Orongo by the Thomson expedition in 1886.

The team also recorded the only female Moai on the island of Rapa Nui, some petroglyphs and an unusual object that is believed to be the eye of one of the giant Moai.

Following the trip, made possible by a generous donation from Sir Paul Ruddock, further projects at various sites around the island are under discussion with Francisco Torres Hochstetter and members of the Indigenous community who care for the cultural heritage on the island. A training and transfer of skills and technology is also under discussion. In line with Factum Foundation’s policy, all the data recorded belongs in full to the custodians of the objects for all current and future applications.

New film about recording Malevich's Black Square

The Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) has produced a short film about how recording Kazimir Malevich's Black Square (1915) with Factum Foundation is helping conservators and researchers find out more about what lies beneath the surface of the most famous painting of the Russian avant-garde.

Factum Foundation captured high-resolution 3D and colour data of the painting in 2018. Later, 3D and colour were merged with X-ray and infrared data produced by the Tretyakov to create an online data viewer - the digital facsimile - that allows the user to see the images in relation to one another rather than in isolation.

New discovery in Tutankhamun's tomb
New discovery in Tutankhamun's tomb

A team of archaeologists led by former Egyptian minister of antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty, while conducting a radar survey over the area surrounding Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, has detected evidence of an additional chamber behind the wall paintings. The theory by Nicholas Reeves, backed in 2015 by Factum Foundation's high-resolution recordings of the tomb, hinted at the possibility of hidden chambers containing Nefertiti's resting place. If verified, the media claims it could be "the biggest archaeological discovery ever". You can find the full article on Nature here.

Find out more about Factum Foundation's work in Tutankhamon's tomb

Facsimile of Djehuty funerary garden has been installed in Luxor
Facsimile of Djehuty funerary garden has been installed in Luxor

The facsimile of the Djehuty Garden, commissioned by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) to be part of the protective framework built to safeguard the original in Luxor, has been installed to protect the fragile ancient structure from further erosion.

Dated to circa 2000 BCE, the dawn of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, the mud-brick structure stands as an unprecedented example of an Egyptian garden of this type remaining to this day.

Learn more about the Djehuty Garden

New recording at the National Galleries of Scotland
New recording at the National Galleries of Scotland

On the 4th and 5th February 2020, a team from Factum Foundation will carry out the high-resolution digitisation in 3D and colour of Old Woman Cooking Eggs by Diego Velázquez at the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Painted between 1618 and 1623 during Velázquez’s early life in Seville, Old Woman is considered one of the most emblematic of the works painted while he lived in his hometown. The digitisation marks the first phase of a wider collaboration between Factum Foundation and CEEH (Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica) that will culminate in a display and exhibitions project for the new Casa Natal de Velázquez in Seville, which is projected to open in 2021.

Working together with CEEH’s director José Luis Colomer, Factum Foundation will carry out the digital recording of several paintings from the artist’s early years with the aim of producing an ‘exact’ facsimile of each work – a facsimile that will be indistinguishable from the original to the naked eye. The paintings will be scanned using state-of-the-art technology to capture high-resolution relief and colour information of their surfaces. The facsimiles will be made at Factum Arte’s Madrid workshops using the data recorded and employing new technologies combined with traditional artistic and craft techniques. The data will also provide vital documentation about the current conservation state of each recorded work.

Find out more about the Casa Natal de Velázquez

Stoppelaëre House nominated for ICCROM-Sharjah Award 2019
Stoppelaëre House nominated for ICCROM-Sharjah Award 2019

The restoration of the Stoppelaëre House, carried out in 2017 by the Tarek Waly Center with support from Factum Foundation, has been nominated for the ICCROM-Sharjah Award for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in the Arab region 2019. This Biennial Award seeks to honour and reward outstanding work that contributes to the protection and vitality of tangible cultural heritage in the Arab region. The Stoppelaëre House currently houses the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative (TNPI) headquarters in Luxor, working towards its aim to train and equip local actors in the uses of technology to preserve and promote cultural heritage.
Find out more about the project

Upcoming exhibition: Bakor monoliths at British Museum will tour to Nigeria
Upcoming exhibition: Bakor monoliths at British Museum will tour to Nigeria

Factum Foundation and Carène Foundation are working together with the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA) and the University of Calabar (UNICAL) on a a project aimed at documenting, conserving and raising awareness about the Bakor monoliths.

The upcoming exhibition at British Museum in November 2020 will be traveling to the recording sites in Nigeria and then will be installed in Alok as a permanent display thanks to the generous grant of the Carène Foundation.

Find out more about the Bakor Monoliths

The Auckland Project
The Auckland Project

Factum Foundation is working on an exciting new initiative to bring some of the masterpieces of Spanish art to County Durham, UK. Led by the art collector Jonathan Ruffer, the Auckland Project is working to regenerate large sections of the town of Bishop Auckland.

The fully restored Auckland Castle, for hundreds of years the seat of a powerful bishopric, was opened to the public last month, and is again home to Zurbaran’s famous series Jacob and his twelve sons, bought in 1756 by Bishop Trevor. Factum Foundation has been commissioned by the Auckland Project to create a digital resource and produce facsimiles of other major paintings and sculptural works for display within the new Spanish Gallery – the first museum in the UK to be devoted to Spanish art. Factum is a Spanish foundation and is honoured to be working on this important initiative.

Among the works being rematerialised are Berrugete's masterpiece, the sepulchre for Cardinal Tavera, and El Greco's portrait of Cardinal Tavera. Both works are from the Hospital of Cardinal Tavera in Toledo and are evidence of the close collaboration between the Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, the Auckland Project and Factum Foundation.

El Greco's tabernacle has also been recorded and a digital restoration is underway. One of El Greco's few sculptures was housed in a gilded architectural construction that was paraded through the streets of Toledo. The digital reconstruction uses the material evidence available and historical research to reconstruct the theatrical impact of this dynamic sculpture.

Have a look at the digital reconstruction of El Greco’s Cristo resucitado and its tabernacle.

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