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June 2015


In Madrid the new workshop is almost finished and is already in use - It has caused a certain amount of disruption but the logic of the new space is starting to condition the way we think, the connections that are made and the articulate objects that we produce. One clear example that has already emerged is the preparation of a group of depth maps of scans of the plasticine works by Henry Hudson printed as tonal information - the mixture of depth and tone led to discussions about woodburytype printing - a beautiful C19th process that used depth to form black and white photographic prints. The depth maps were routed in aluminium on the CNC machines, filled with pigmented gelatin and transferred onto gelatin coated paper - within 3 days we had a result that was promising - with more time we should be offering digitally routed woodburytype prints alongside the other types of printing that are proliferating. Another example is an amazing edition with EL Anatsui that is starting to take form in collaboration with the October Gallery, London. The addition of intaglio printing and other pressure based processes is having a dramatic impact.

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Factum Arte in Egypt

Factum Arte and Factum Foundation’s long term commitment to Egypt continues!
Recently we received news that the Permanent Committee has granted the University of Basel a renewal of the permission to fully document the tomb of Seti I in colour and 3D and has granted permission for the restoration of Hassan Fathy’s great building Stoppelaere's House. The Minister of Antiquities had been supporting this project since last September. Stoppelaere house will become a 3D scanning and training centre and will demonstrate the importance of transferring the equipment and skills to the places where they are most needed. For over 8 months Aliaa Ismael has been in Madrid learning all the skills needed to run the centre - recently she was in London training a team of conservators from the National Gallery. We hope she will be able to return to Egypt before the end of the year.

 

Photogrammetry

Three weeks ago Alexander Peck was in Lebanon working with the Ministry of Culture and APSAD to demonstrate the central role photogrammetry can play in high-resolution high-speed recording of cultural artefacts. In one day he took over 300 photographs and fully recorded two Stele at Nahr El Kalb - a UNESCO 'Memory of the World’ site. Photogrammetry can provide a way to record the surface of reliefs and inscriptions in great detail. 3D recording systems are increasingly important for the study of historic artifacts but it is only in recent years that a 35mm camera used with the right software has been capable of producing 3D recordings with enough detail to be used for epigraphy and forensic study. Photogrammetry is a low cost, highly portable non-contact method to record 3D data in the field. It can be used to document sites that are at risk from the effects of mass tourism, iconoclastic attacks or a variety of other reasons. This documentation project is an example of how new technologies can be used to record 'At Risk' Cultural heritage and provide a tool for study, monitoring and preserving vulnerable sites. One of the next trips will be to Chad to record petroglyphs with TARA (Trust for African Rock Art).

 

Experiment with a block of Salt

Experimentation with different materials has always been at the core of the work Factum Arte does. At the moment this is focused on three main areas - the deposition and mixes of concrete, the casting and coating of salt and the vitrification of sand. You can watch here an amusing video about watching salt melt and an inspiring one (here) about using the heat from a plasma spark to form glass tubes in the sand. The new concrete deposition system is installed and awaiting its final modifications before it starts a series of experiments into slump and sheer aimed at developing methods that 'go with' the materials rather than try to force them to do things they don't want to do. I hope in the next newsletter we will be able to share information about two members of the Factum team bridging between academia and practical research. These are exciting times for digital and physical artisans.

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