Contra is a not-for-profit annual magazine and arts organisation that explores the complex relationship between visual culture and conflict. The third issue of the magazine will feature the work of Factum Foundation with the Wauja community in recreating the sacred cave of Kamukuwaká, which was vandalised in 2018.
An online discussion retraced the steps of this project, which was completed a year ago. The importance of preserving cultural heritage in the face of iconoclastic vandalism is now more important than ever. Representatives of the Wauja community, People's Palace Projects and Factum Foundation talked about the impact of the 3D physical reconstruction a year later, and also about the impact of Covid-19 on indigenous communities in Mato Grosso.
After an intensive summer of recording at Wilton House, Ortigia island in Syracuse, the Hospital de la Caridad, the Queen's Gallery, Apsley House and the scanning of various privately-owned works of art, several of the Lucida 3D Scanners are back for servicing.
This system, or a variant of it, has been in use at Factum for 20 years. Conceived and developed by artist and engineer Manuel Franquelo with Factum Arte, the Lucida 3D Scanner still is the only system to date that can record the surface of entire paintings at a resolution that is meaningful for replication.
Over the past months, there has been a vast amount of interest in Factum Foundation's scanning of paintings - with Coronavirus and social distancing, blockbuster shows of originals, requiring large visitor numbers to justify costs, are out. The exact facsimile of the Raphael Cartoon The Sacrifice at Lystra, part of the show 'Raffaello 1520 - 1483' at the Scuderie de Quirinale, is establishing a new approach:
'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 indisputable; 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.’
Arnold Nesselrath, The Big Review: Raphael at the Scuderie del Quirinale
The Art Newspaper, August 2020
On August 17-18th a team from Factum Foundation worked in London's Apsley House to record two paintings by Velázquez: The Waterseller of Seville and Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table. The work was carried out using panoramic composite photography and the Lucida 3D Scanner to document the originals' colour and surface texture in high-resolution. The recording of the two paintings at the Wellington Collection was made possible by the generosity of the Duke of Wellington and English Heritage, particularly the Keeper of the Wellington Collection and their Paintings Conservators who care for the paintings.
The facsimiles will be produced in Factum Arte's studios in Madrid in the next weeks while the data will be given to Apsley House to help draw attention to the remarkable collection of paintings and assist in the preservation and study of these two works.
Al-Qatt al-Asiri Pattern Book is a folio format publication produced in collaboration with Art Jameel, that has been designed as a teaching aid for the the women of Asir. The aim is to revive an art form that has been designated as 'intangible cultural heritage’ by UNESCO. These colourful geometric patterns have decorated the interior of the domestic buildings of the region for many years but are disappearing.
The book, designed by Factum, is printed and bound by Book Works in London. Copies will soon be made available to the public, pre-order yours by writing to: email@example.com
Launched by the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt, Factum Foundation and the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative
In July 2020, Factum Foundation, the TNPI and Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities are launching the 3D virtual model of the tomb of Seti I. It is a work in progress but when finished it will be a complete record of the tomb from the time it was discovered to the moment at which recording ends.
The 3D virtual model is based on a LiDAR recording of the whole tomb, but it also includes high-resolution information that will continue to be fed into the platform as the work progresses. We are not only recording all the walls, pillars and ceilings but also all the elements that were removed from the tomb and are now scattered around the world in museums, store-rooms and private collections.
The platform works like a dynamic archive of the tomb that can allow closer study than is possible during a visit. By layering colour and 3D data, the walls can be seen at high magnification and the spectacular ceiling in the Sarcophagus Room can be studied as if you were on scaffolding with the painting in front of your nose.
But we are going further: the aim is to incorporate into the platform the watercolours made by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, the Egyptologist who discovered the tomb in 1817 (now in Bristol City Museum), Harry Burton’s black and white photographs from the 1920s (commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York) and approximately 8,000 fragments from the tomb of Seti I, collected by the University of Basel, that are now stored in the tomb of Ramesses X and being analysed and relocated by Florence Mauric Barberio.
We have also incorporated the 3D recordings made by Factum Arte in the Sarcophagus Room in 2001, clearly establishing the importance of this approach for condition monitoring.
In July 2020, a team of experts from Factum Foundation travelled to Seville to record two paintings by Valdés Leal: In Ictu Oculi and Finis Gloriae Mundi. This was done in collaboration with the Real Hermandad de la Santa Caridad de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo, in the Church of San Jorge.
The high-resolution recording in 3D and colour was carried out with the aim of rematerialising and disseminating the importance of both paintings by Valdés Leal, in the form of exact facsimiles which will be made at Factum's workshops.
2022 will also be the 400th anniversary of the birth of the major Spanish Baroque painter. After a previous collaboration on two of Murillo's masterpieces in 2018, Factum Foundation and the Real Hermandad de la Santa Caridad are looking into collaborating with key international institutions which are dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of Spanish Art, with the aim of celebrating the importance of La Caridad's unique artistic and cultural assets.
From 6th to 17th July, a team from Factum Foundation was in Venice to carry out the recording of the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Working with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Iconem, the aim was to record the entire island using several recording methods such as aerial and ground-based photogrammetry and LiDAR recording.
This initiative will serve as a pilot project to record the whole of Venice. Factum Foundation and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini have been working together since 2006 and launched ARCHiVe (Analysis and Recording of Cultural Heritage in Venice) in 2018.
On 9th July, Factum Foundation’s recreation of Raphael’s Christ Falls on the Route to Cavalry, nicknamed Lo Spasimo di Sicilia, was installed in the monastery of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo, where the painting hung until the middle of the 16th century.
The original painting by Raphael, now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, was transferred from a wooden panel onto a canvas after being taken to Paris by Napoleon, during the Spanish War of Independence. Factum Foundation addressed this fact with the recreation of the painting on a rigid panel, in order to install it into its original frame in its original location in Palermo.
The return of Lo Spasimo to Palermo coincides with the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death. It also coincides with a series of high-resolution recording, facsimile and recreation projects by Factum Foundation, as well as several exhibitions and a publication about the role of new technologies for the preservation, sharing and understanding of cultural heritage.
The Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative's team and Factum Foundation are glad to announce that work has restarted in the Valley of the Kings, after the shutdown imposed by the COVID-19 crisis. After more than 100 days of interruption, the TNPI team is the first mission to resume work and will pursue the high- resolution recording in 3D and colour of the entire tomb of Seti I. The Burial Chamber and Corridor G will be the main points of focus for the next days. This was made possible with the support of the Ministry of Antiquities.
In line with the Ministry of Antiquities' COVID-19 safety measures, the team returns at a 25% of workforce: Aliaa Ismail, Abdo Ghaba, Mosa El-Sayed and the appointed inspector Mohamed Wahba are keen on resuming this ambitious project and on completing the recording of the entire site.
Recording and rematerialising the whole of the tomb of Seti I and all known scattered fragments is the current main goal of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative, mainly funded by the Factum Foundation with the generous help of international donors. We would like to thank the following individuals and entities for their constant support: his Excellency the Minister of Antiquities Dr. Khaled Anany, the Secretary General of the Supreme council of Antiquities Dr. Mostafa Waziri, the permanent committees of the Ministry of Antiquities, Dr. Mohamed Abd El-Badee, Dr. Nashwa Gaber, Director of Upper Egyptian Antiquity Dr. Mohamed Yehia, Director of West Bank Antiquity Dr. Fathy Yassin, the Director of West Bank Missions Dr. Ramadan, Director of the Valley of Kings Mr. Aly Reda. Furthermore, the TNPI team thanks the staff and the guards, who have welcomed and encouraged their return on-site.
Working in collaboration with Seville's Archivo Histórico Provincial, Parroquia de San Pedro and Parroquia de San Juan Bautista, a team from Factum Foundation recorded in high resolution a selection of documents related to Diego Velázquez' life. Exact reproductions of these documents, in addition to facsimiles of paintings and recreations of the objects that appear in them, will become part of the permanent exhibition itinerary of the Casa Natal de Velázquez, due to open in 2021.
Thanks to digital technology, this collection of unique objects will help putting in context the artist's early years in Seville. The documents include Velázquez's certificate of baptism, his contract of apprenticeship under Francisco Pacheco and his official certificate of acceptance into the guild of painters.
On the 4th and 5th February 2020, a team from Factum Foundation carried out the high-resolution digitisation in 3D and colour of An Old Woman Cooking Eggs at the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh. In this video, Aidan Weston-Lewis, chief curator at National Galleries of Scotland, and Enrique Bocanegra, director of the Casa Natal de Velázquez, talk about the importance and relevance of this collaboration and the potential for digital technologies to recover Velázquez’ legacy, as part of a wider collaboration with CEEH (Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica).
A film by Óscar Parasiego for Factum Foundation
Before the shutdown of museums in the UK, a team from Factum Foundation was in the process of recording Anthony van Dyck's Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, with his Family held at Wilton House, near Salisbury.
Through a high-resolution recording in 3D and colour, it will be possible to generate an archive of the painting's surface as a resource for conservation, study and dissemination purposes. The data, which will belong to the owner of the painting, could also be used to make an exact facsimile of the painting if required in the future.
The colour recording of the painting was completed in March employing panoramic composite photography, and the recording of the surface relief using the Lucida 3D Scanner has been carried out from July 6th to 23rd. We hope that this major project will be the first of many digital preservation initiatives involving English Heritage.
On June 10th, the urban planning committee at Seville’s city council authorised the beginning of construction works that will create the Casa Natal de Velázquez, an interpretation centre inside the painter's birthplace in Seville. The project is in collaboration with CEEH and supported by the Sevilla City Hall.
The facsimile of the Old Woman Cooking Eggs, recorded in February at the National Galleries of Scotland, is in its last stages of production. The next paintings to be recorded are the The Waterseller of Seville (1618–1622) and Two Young Men Eating at a Humble Table (1618–1620) in the Wellington Collection at Apsley House. The recording will start as soon as the quarantine the UK is lifted.
The winner of Bando Lucida 2020, The Assumption of Mary and Saints attributed to the workshops of Sandro Botticelli, in the Monumental Complex of Pilotta in Parma has been recorded with the Lucida 3D Scanner in Factum Foundation's Milan headquarters. The digital data will be of use during the phases of research and diagnostics preceding its restoration in the Open Care facilities.
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 2020 until January 10th 2021. 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
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.
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
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.