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<i>Material Sound</i>: the first body of work created at Factum Arte, by Factum Arte
Material Sound: the first body of work created at Factum Arte, by Factum Arte

Factum Arte is known for helping other artists to give material shape to their ideas, but Material Sound is the work of Factum’s own artists, engineers, sound specialists, and designers - a collaborative artwork created through conversation, experiment, and a close understanding of the physical properties of the material world we inhabit.

Starting with the 18th-century experiments of Ernst Chladni and merging them with the work of Margaret Watts Hughes in the 1890s and Hans Jenny in the 1960s, Factum's research has focused on the synaesthetic nature of digital data. The brass plates which make up the work vibrate according to the resonant frequencies of the plates themselves when excited by sound.

A custom-made transducer system including a piezoelectric device is attached to the underside of each plate. When a plate resonates, the sand particles realign along the peaks and troughs of the soundwaves - they disperse where the plate is in motion and settle in clearly-defined lines on the still nodes where no movement takes place. The size, shape, and thickness of a plate all contribute to the ever-changing patterns; in this work the plates are 6mm thick and up to 2m in length. One of the innovative aspects is that we are working in both audible and inaudible frequencies of sound, creating a mesmerising series of transformations.

A second work is using lycopodium powder on a vibrating membrane, an approach taken by Hans Jenny in his cymatic experiments. Here, the focus is on how the particles move both across the surface and in the space above it.

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The recreation of the Risco Caído: finalising a facsimile for the recently declared World Heritage Site
The recreation of the Risco Caído: finalising a facsimile for the recently declared World Heritage Site

Over the past 6 months, Factum Arte's craftsmen have been working on the production of an exact facsimile of the Risco Caído cave, which will be set up in January and will be on permanent view at the new Risco Caído Interpretation Centre in the town of Artenara, Gran Canaria. The facsimile of the cave will be installed inside a space adjacent to the Interpretation Centre, which was itself purposefully carved into the mountain.

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Larissa Sansour's <i>Monument for Lost Time</i> on show at Copenhagen Contemporary
Larissa Sansour's Monument for Lost Time on show at Copenhagen Contemporary

Following the success of Larissa Sansour's Monument for Lost Time, at the 58th International Biennale di Venezia's Danish Pavillion, the monumental sculpture is now on show at Copenhagen Contemporary. A team from Factum Arte took care of the installation ahead of the artist's exhibition Heirloom (13th December 2019 – 10th May 2020), which focuses on Sansour's collaboration with the writer and artist Søren Lind.

Find out more about this work of art


A new flatbed printer
A new flatbed printer

Factum’s flatbed printer is unique in that it enables the operator to precisely over-print in perfect registration. This means that a printed image can be built up in layers of ink of varying opacity and therefore that the tonal range of Factum's system is much greater than that of commercially available printers.
The printer can print an area of 1.6 x 4.5 meters. The substrate can be re-positioned to provide a continuous surface with total control over the printed joint; it is thus possible to print an image that is 4 meters high and, in theory, any length.

The development has taken over a year and has been primarily carried out by Quinner Baird, with support from Dwight Perry, Jorge Cano and Enrique Esteban. Factum's ability to develop both hardware and software is a key part of the experimental workshop mentality that underpins our work.


Hrair Sarkissian's <i>Final Flight</i> on show next year at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas
Hrair Sarkissian's Final Flight on show next year at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas

A new edition of Factum Arte’s 2017 collaboration with Syrian artist Hrair Sarkissian will soon be showcased at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, as part of the exhibition centered on his most famous projects, from January 24, 2020 to March 15, 2020.

Final Flight is a collection of seven facsimiles of Northern bald ibis skulls: considered one of the rarest birds in the world, it was regarded as extinct until a colony of seven was found in Palmyra in 2002. The birds have disappeared yet again between 2011 and 2014 following the political situation in Syria, nullifying the conservation efforts that were protecting their annual winter migration to Ethiopia.


The skull of an Andalusian specimen preserved in and generously lent by the Zoo of Jerez de la Frontera in Southern Spain was digitized at Factum Arte in Madrid using high-resolution photogrammetry and processed into a 3D model that could be 3D printed, moulded and then cast in a mix of calcium and resin, which best resembles the appearance of bones. The skulls were subsequently hand painted and each of the finalized seven facsimiles hangs on 30 cm metal rod attached to a stone base.
Hrair Sarkissian uses these seven migrating ibises that were lost or never returned to create an elegant metaphor for the current displacement and migration of Syrians.

Learn more about this project


New successes for the church bell foundry at Whitechapel
New successes for the church bell foundry at Whitechapel

On December 10th two 6kg bells were cast at UCL’s Here East facility by Peter Scully, technical director at the Bartlett, and a team of four students. The event employed the ceramic shell investment process, one of the methods which would be used by a restored church bell foundry at Whitechapel, and demonstrated that the casting of bells in London is safe, practical, and environmentally viable.

In an introductory talk, Scully spoke about the lack of meaningful apprenticeships available in the creative industries, and emphasised the importance of universities like UCL retaining creative and industrial links to local communities at a time when many facilities like this one are moving out of central London. He also assuaged fears about the possible environmental impact of a foundry in Whitechapel: the filtered air which emerges following a casting process like this one is far cleaner than that of its surrounding environment.

In a separate event on December 17th, independent mayoral candidate Rory Stewart affirmed his support for the campaign to save the bell foundry. Stewart’s support is part of a wider swell of interest in the foundry at the highest political level and from both left and right, demonstrating its importance to Londoners of all political stripes.

To find out more about the ongoing campaign to save the church bell foundry at Whitechapel, click here


Recording of graffitis by Banksy in Venice
Recording of graffitis by Banksy in Venice

Last week, amid rumours that it will soon be removed, the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Factum Foundation decided, in the light of all the recent flooding, to demonstrate that high-resolution recording in colour and 3D must be done before the object is lost or damaged. Banksy’s graffiti has now been digitised at a resolution that will allow for the production of an exact facsimile if the artist ever desires for this to happen.

The exact facsimile of Veronese’s vast painting The Wedding at Cana can be seen in the refectory on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and the facsimile of Salviati’s ceiling can be seen in Palazzo Grimani. The recording is part of the work being carried out by ARCHiVe (Analysis and Recording of Cultural Heritage in Venice), funded by the Helen Hamlyn Trust.


Jan Hendrix at the Bonnefanten Museum
Jan Hendrix at the Bonnefanten Museum

Hot on the heels of an exhibition at the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, Jan Hendrix’s Yagul tapestry series is travelling to Europe. The tapestries will be shown as part of an overview of the artist’s work at the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht (Tierra Firme, 26th November 2019 – 26th April 2020).

These vast graphic images are drawn by Hendrix before being converted in Factum Arte’s digital tapestry studio into files suitable for weaving. Threads are chosen, colours adjusted, and weaving techniques decided on before the files can be sent to Flanders Tapestries, where they are woven on electronic Jacquard looms. In the case of the Yagul tapestries, different types of thread – some silk, some wool – were used for the different colours, and a new weave was developed especially for the series.

Jan Hendrix has been making work at Factum Arte since 2006, when he started using laser-cut steel and water-cut aluminium to create large-scale immersive artworks. As monumental as his installation pieces, the subtle weave of these tapestries transforms the represented landscapes yet again, inviting new encounters with these complex rock formations and tree canopies.


Return of the Lost Paintings at Palazzo Abatellis
Return of the Lost Paintings at Palazzo Abatellis

A new exhibition at Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo (until 8th December) celebrates ‘The Return of the Lost Paintings’: seven paintings, all lost, destroyed, or stolen over the course of the 20th century, which were recreated by Factum Arte for a 2018 Sky Arts series made by Ballandi Multimedia, Rome. The exhibition allows these paintings to have a new lease of life - raising questions about their complex histories. Digital restoration and rematerialisation are fast-growing parts of Factum Arte’s work.

Palazzo Abatellis is just a short walk away from the Oratorio di San Lorenzo, where Factum Arte’s recreation of Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence is permanently installed in the frame once occupied by the original, which was stolen 50 years ago this month.

Find out more about the Lost Paintings


Factum Arte's diary: Shezad Dawood

Shezad Dawood has worked with Factum Arte since 2014 in a variety of media, on projects which complicate and reimagine received historical narratives and imagery. In this new profile, filmed in Factum Arte's Madrid workshops, he talks about the ideas and ideals which drive his work, and how the collaborative studio environment of Factum Arte helps to bring them to life.

Find out more about Shezad Dawood's projects with Factum Arte


New tapestry by Grayson Perry: 'Large Expensive Abstract Painting'
New tapestry by Grayson Perry: 'Large Expensive Abstract Painting'

Grayson Perry’s latest tapestry, ‘Large Expensive Abstract Painting’, is on show until 20th December at Victoria Miró Mayfair as part of the solo exhibition Super Rich Interior Decoration.

Perry has been producing his extraordinary tapestries at Factum Arte since 2009, when the design for The Walthamstowe Tapestry was sent to Factum's digital tapestry studio. Perry's digital files are processed in Madrid for weaving on Jacquard looms at Flanders Tapestries in Belgium.

Another set of tapestries, Julie Cope’s Grand Tour, is currently on display at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh until 2nd November.

Find out more about Grayson Perry's work with Factum Arte


Recreation of <i> Six Sunflowers in a Vase </i> on show in Tokyo exhibition
Recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase on show in Tokyo exhibition

The exhibition ‘Superclone Cultural Properties’ (Sep. 16 –29) at the Tokyo University of the Arts Museum introduces the concepts and material realities that lie behind the reproduction of cultural heritage. The University is currently deeply engaged in research and development relating to cultural heritage protection and the creation of faithful reproductions of cultural assets from around the world.

Factum Foundation participates in this exciting project with a re-creation a lost painting by Vincent Van Gogh – Six Sunflowers in a Vase (1888). The painting, which once belonged to a Japanese collector, was destroyed in the American bombing of Ashiya in 1945. With very little material evidence of the original – one black & white collector’s photograph and a small colour image – Factum’s experts in digital restoration produced a striking recreation of the original based on Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings dating from the same period. The project was filmed for the documentary series ‘Mystery of the Lost Paintings', produced with Ballandi Multimedia and broadcast by Sky Arts.

Find out more about the recreation of Six Sunflowers in a Vase.


Wandering Odysseus returns to Corfu
Wandering Odysseus returns to Corfu

Halfway home to Ithaca, Odysseus reached the island of Scheria, where he was found on the seashore by Nausicaa, princess of the hyper-civilised Phaecians. The scene was recreated in 1948 by the Greek artist Niko Ghika using two maquettes, which show the bedraggled hero attempting to hide his nakedness behind a tree while the princess plays ball with her companions on the shore.

Factum Arte has now transformed these two small figures into a monumental tableau. The 30cm maquettes were recorded using photogrammetry and digitally enlarged to around 2.5m before being CNC-milled in medium density polyurethane. The routed forms were then cast in bronze.

The figures are now face to face on a promontory looking out from Corfu towards Albania, on the terrace of a house belonging to Jacob Rothschild. The setting is an apt one: not only has tradition long associated Corfu with the mythical island of Scheria, but the Rothschild property there is one which was restored by Niko Ghika himself, together with Barbara Hutchinson, Jacob Rothschild’s mother, who married the artist in 1961.


<i> Spiral </i> by Paula Crown
Spiral by Paula Crown

Chicago-based artist Paula Crown's creative exploration of the earliest man-made symbols has led to a new series of sculptural works in production at Factum Arte. Spiral (2019) elaborates the basic spiral into a highly complex structure, asking the question – how far can the basic sign be taken before it becomes illegible?

The sculpture was digitally modelled and 3D printed in one piece. The secondary nickel electroplating process resulted in arborescent nickel formations whose fractal qualities evoke organic protrusions from the hyper-stylised 3D modelled form.

Learn more.


Rachid Koraïchi builds cemetery for drowned migrants in Tunisia
Rachid Koraïchi builds cemetery for drowned migrants in Tunisia

Rachid Koraïchi is currently building a non-denominational cemetery and memorial in Zarzis, Tunisia for migrants who have drowned while crossing the Mediterranean. Jardin d'Afrique will open next year, although 56 anonymous bodies have already been buried in a temporary grave at the site.

Image: Construction of Jardin Afrique - Courtesy Rachid Koraïchi


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