Lucida Lab Milano

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Lucida Lab Milano is an extension of the Factum Foundation, dedicated to promoting the application of digital, non-invasive and non-contact modern technology for the preservation of works of art as well as sites of historical and cultural importance.

The studio, directed by Guendalina Damone and Carlos Bayod, was launched through a collaboration between Factum Foundation and Open Care (a Milan-based conservation and restoration laboratory and art services workshop), and is located within its building, in the Open Care Conservation and Restoration Department in Via Piranesi, Milan. The lab is equipped with a Lucida 3D Scanner which is used for a number of projects throughout Italy - two panels by Francesco del Cossa in the Pinacoteca di Brera (before and after restoration), Giovanni Donato da Montorfano’s Crucifixion fresco in the Cenacolo Vinciano, a series of panels by Bernardino Luini in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and a painting by Alberto Burri in Bergamo, represent only a fraction of the artworks scanned by the Lucida Lab since its establishment in late 2014. 

The Lucida 3D Scanner in Open Care’s Conservation and Restoration Department

The Lucida 3D scanner, designed and developed by artist and engineer Manuel Franquelo and funded by the Factum Foundation, enables the non-contact high-resolution digitalization of the surface of works of art, such as paintings and textiles of low relief. It is this quality which makes this scanner one of the most advanced systems for investigating the physical side of a given surface. One of the Lucida 3D scanner´s defining points of differentiation from other scanners is that it features the ability to record even the darkest, shiniest of most reflective of surfaces - something that simply cannot be achieved in such high levels of detail by other recording systems which have been developed to record shape and volume rather than relief.

3D data generated with the Lucida is then processed using special in-house developed software and stored in various readable formats that can be shared for research and communication purposes - enabling the easy verification of the authenticity of a work, and the easy monitoring of a work´s state of conservation or condition before, during and after a transportation or restoration. It is also possible to create a digital archive with the obtained data produced by the Lucida, which, when integrated into a diagnostic profile, can generate a concise identity card for the work of art.

The Lucida scans and records low relief surfaces in a completely safe and non contact operation

Manuel Franquelo's Lucida 3D scanner recording the surface of the panels "Angelo Annunciante" and "Vergine Annunciata" - Museo di Villa Cagnola, Gazzada.

As well as the wide-range of digitizing projects, of which some are mentioned above, the Lucida Lab Milano dedicates the rest of its time disseminating valuable information on the role new digital technologies play in the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage, as well as its benefits for the materialisation of contemporary projects. To transmit this information, visits and seminars are often held at the studio, creating a platform on which people are invited to discuss the importance of 3D scanning for cultural heritage. The Lucida Lab is also a place where conservators, restorers and students may come together to participate in introductory training sessions on the use of the Lucida scanner, and the post-processing of obtained data. In these sessions, special attention is paid to exploring the different ways in which digital data may be worked and encourages the experimentation of restoration techniques within conventional practice. Thanks to these and other initiatives, the Lucida Lab is receiving increasing attention from the Italian public and private institutions in the art and preservation fields. 

Presentation of the Lucida Lab Milano in March 2015

Guendalina Damone explaining the importance of the Lucida Scanner during a Lucida 3D scanner demonstration

The aim of the Lab is to show that the way we understand the original object is as part of a dynamic process, that object is not in a fixed state of being. This shift can be used to turn cultural interest into a pro-active force assisting in and encouraging the preservation of important monuments and works of art. The Foundation is working to ensure that future generations can inherit the past in a condition at least as we received it and where it can be studied in depth by this and future generations – using secure, archived digital data that does not age and encouraging because what we do and what we stand for is beginning to resonate strongly within the conservation and heritage communities. These communities have realised the importance of high-resolution digital recording, and recording protocols are starting to be integrated into institutional practice. Central to this shift of attitude is a fundamental reappraisal of the role of exact facsimiles in instances where issues such as re-location, re-unification, re-construction, restoration, re-creation and research are to be addressed.

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