A Digital Mediation Studio

Factum Arte
Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Preservation
Madrid, Spain

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The emergence of computers and the opportunities offered by diverse types of digital mediation in C21st required a radical rethinking of the layout of a creative workshop and the way that contemporary artists work. Factum Arte is a direct response to this need. Its workshops have developed to create an experimental and open environment to meet the needs of artists from around the world. Factum Arte has been run since it started by Adam Lowe, a painter trained at Oxford University´s Ruskin School of Drawing and at the Royal College of Art in London. Many elements of these two very different institutions have shaped the radical studio that has emerged in Madrid. The Ruskin´s emphasis on traditional techniques and the interdisciplinary intellectual community of Oxford prompted an interest in creative processes that intersect science, art and technology. The Bauhaus environment of the Royal College of Art in 1980s mixing painters, sculptors, printmakers, ceramicists, metalworkers, jewellers, silver and goldsmiths, automotive designers, photographers, textile designers, woodworkers, filmmakers demonstrated the importance of communication across disciplines.

The studios that have grown in San Blas, Madrid over the past 18 years are a direct reaction against a heavily compartmentalised model. Digital mediation has changed how people work together and divisions based on materials are being replaced by a different approach to mediation, transformation, and making. Curiosity, collaboration, innovation and application have come to define Factum Arte´s working spaces that have been set up to maximise artists intentions. Everything is based on transforming an idea into its optimum form and understanding the mediations that are involved in the digital and the physical world.

Over 50 people work together in a space of 8000 sq meters. Their skills are diverse; architects, product designers, scientists, moulders and casters, welders, conservators, fine and applied artists, printers, electrical and physical engineers, machine operators, accountants, photographers, film-makers, 3D scanners, textile specialists, typographers, sculptors and furniture restorers all work together. Teamwork is at the heart of this C21st renaissance and the workshops are only the tip of the iceberg. They connect to precision engineering, CNC milling, foundry work in many materials (at every scale and level of detail), waterjet cutting, laser technologies of various kinds, structural engineering, architecture, museum collaborations, printing, exhibition design, 3D printing, electro-forming and electroplating, wood carving, stone carving, computer programming, film-making, anthropology, scientific innovation... the list responds to needs. The aim has been to create a ‘playground’ for artists who can work supported by skilled and creative digital artisans.

Factum Arte applies these skills to contemporary artists - Factum Foundation applies many of the same tools to the preservation of the past through high-resolution documentation, sharing information and the creation of exact facsimiles. What has emerged is an atemporal and anachronic approach to art - the past shapes the present and is shaped by it - both shape the future.

Paula Crown, Spiral - From the Universal Symbols series 2019. Stereolithographic printing, electroplating with copper and nickel encouraging additional growths to form at the extremities of each piece.

Rachid Koraichi This Long Journey Into Your Gaze at Casa Árabe in Madrid and Cordoba.


The ‘techne’ shelves for Madame de Pompadour in the Frame at Waddesdon Manor May to October 2019. These shelves contain fragments and samples from a range of projects using diverse materials and processes.

Preparing the final details of the case explaining how the facsimile of Boucher’s portrait of Madame de pompadour was made. The original portrait is in Alte Pinakothek, Munich while the facsimile hangs in what may

Adding the finishing touches to the frame belonging to the Sketch for Madame de Pompadour by Boucher. The merging of digital and craft skills is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Factum Arte

A team finishing the facsimile of the Sarcophagus of Seti I. The 3D recording took place at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, the CNC milling happened in the north of Spain and the Océ elevated printing was done in Venlo, Holland. All other work to prepare the files and make the facsimile happened at Factum Arte.

Jean Nouvel inspecting Jenny Holzer’s installation at Abu Dhabi Louvre

New CNC routed works for Marina Abramović near completion prior to display at Wilde Gallery during Art Basel 2019.

New experiments in rustication by Charlotte Skene Catling and Adam Lowe designed to introduce light and shadow into the surface of buildings.

Working with Venetian Heritage, Factum Foundation recorded, made and installed a facsimile of the ceiling painting by Salviati into its original location in Palazzo Grimani in April 2019.

Factum Arte have worked with Anish Kapoor since the workshops opened. The concrete printing machine was designed and built at Factum Arte and operated in Anish’s London studio for many years.

The Virgen de las Nieves, from Santa Cruz de la Palma, at different stages of the production of a facsimile and a protective casing to prevent damage to the 12th century sculpture when it is dressed and paraded through the streets.

Installing the bronze olive tree into Mercado del Duomo in Milan, 2015. The 7 meter sculpture of an olive tree and its roots was made in collaboration with the Italian architect and designer Michele de Lucchi.

Recording the frescoes of Dionisy at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in the Ferapontov Monastery, Russia. Digitalisation made by Factum Foundation in collaboration with Peri Foundation. Photograph by Shamil Gadzhidadaev.

The facsimile of the pillared part of the Sarcophagus room from the Tomb of Seti I on display in Basel at the exhibition Scanning Seti - the re-generation of a pharaonic tomb at the Antikenmuseum in 2017-2018

Jordi Pons doing the final retouching for the colour reproduction of Murillo´s Miracle of the loaves and fishes from the Hospital de la Caridad, Seville.


Factum Arte consists of a team of artists, technicians and conservators dedicated to digital mediation - The main focus is on the production of works for contemporary artists and to the application of new technologies to the creation of objectively accurate facsimiles that are part of a coherent approach understand and read the importance of material evidence. The emphasis is on cross-disciplinary communication, innovation and sharing information and ideas. The goal is to demonstrate what can happen when technology is developed and applied by creative thinkers and where the line between the digital and the physical no longer exists.

All logistics and management are coordinated from this office.

Established in 2001, Factum Arte was conceived by its founders Adam Lowe, Manuel Franquelo and Nando Guereta as an interdisciplinary studio where diverse skill-sets collide on a daily basis. Artists such as Marina Abramovic´, Anish Kapoor, Maya Lin, El Anatsui, Ahmed Mater, Paula Crown, Wang Yuyang, Marc Quinn, Gillian Wearing, Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Akram Zataari, Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joriege, Rachid Koraichi, Mariko Mori, Abdulnasser Gharem, Manal AlDowayan, Hrair Sarkissian, Shezad Dawood, Sarah Sze, Subodh Gupta, Michael Hansmeyer, Jenny Holzer and many others have enjoyed and taken advantage of Factum Arte´s craftsmanship and bespoke technology to create new works of art. There are now spaces in Madrid, London and Milan. More are planned.


The Factum Foundation was founded as a non-profit organisation in 2009 by Adam Lowe with the aim of using Factum Arte´s innovative processes and technologies for preservation, education and the development of thought-provoking exhibitions. Factum Foundation´s approach is effective and its facsimiles of Veronese´s Wedding at Cana and the tombs of Thutmosis III, Tutankhamun and Seti I have been widely acclaimed for their forensic accuracy. The Foundation regularly carries out projects and supports the documentation of artworks in institutions such as the British Museum, the Louvre Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museo del Prado, The V&A and the Pinacoteca di Brera. It is running and developing projects in conjunction with the Peri Foundation, Community Jameel, Juma Al Majid centre for Conservation and Heritage, Iconem, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. It currently has projects in Egypt, Canada, Russia, Pakistan, Italy, Nigeria, Spain, Chad, Scotland, France, US, England, Saudi Arabia, and many other parts of the world.

Different Input, Output and Display systems are built side by side. Quinner Baird is finalising the new flatbed printer alongside the new Replica 360 document recording system and the Veronica scanner that is undergoing modifications.

Factum Arte’s Manuscript Scanner was specifically designed to record Islamic manuscripts in Daghestan while the Replica 360 scanner was built to digitize the


There are various types of spaces devoted to digital input that are shared by programmers, engineers, digital modellers, colour specialists, photographers, 3D scanning specialists, digital conservators and technicians. Their interdisciplinary background facilitates the development of technologies such as the Lucida 3D Scanner, designed by Manuel Franquelo, and the Veronica Choreographic Scanner, designed by Manuel Franquelo Junior with Factum´s team, but also the refinement of techniques and approaches to digital restoration, composite photography, 3D recording and photogrammetry.

Equipment design and Engineering Studio

The work in and out of the studio requires equipment that is not always available commercially. Over the years, Factum Arte´s engineers have designed and built systems to digitise fragile cultural heritage. Different systems have been developed to record the surface, relief and texture of objects at the highest possible resolution. All systems are 100% non-contact and work with specially written open source software.

Digitisation encompasses a series of activities that have expanded the creative process and the possibilities for making, studying and preserving works or art. Factum Arte’s digital specialists are using these technologies to restore objects digitally and produce applications to visualise data. The move from physical object or idea to digital data and back into the physical world requires new skill sets and a different way of thinking that is transforming the way artists work and the way cultural heritage is preserved and shared.

The technologies are being used to create new works of arts, produce accurate facsimiles of existing objects and to recover and re-imagine lost works based on available records.

Otto Lowe is one of the team working with Photogrammetry and training others to use the process.

Enrique Esteban and Jorge Cano are part of Factum’s team of engineers that have designed, built and written software for numerous systems including manuscript scanners, face scanners, relief scanners and more.

Carlos Bayod, Teresa Casado and Óscar Parasiego recording Fra Angelico´s The Annunciation in the Museo del Prado using the Lucida Scanner.

Portable manuscript scanner being used at the State Archives in Makhachkala, Dagaestan to record their collection of Arabic manuscripts.

In the colour and composite photography lab Gabriel Scarpa, Teresa Casado and Anna Paola Ferrara work to stitch together and restor digital images.

The 3D and Photogrammetry room is where digitized objects become 3D models that can be printed or milled.

The dark room: a space for experimenting with photography and photogrammetry

Merging modelled and scanned data to make a silver coffeepot by Piranesi.

The digital team specializes in digital restoration, colour matching and the production of various application for visualizing data.

3D animation produced from etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

3D modelling from an eighteenth century print.

Some of Shezad Dawood´s sculptures have been 3D modelled at Factum Arte.


The techniques, technologies and processes of re-materialisation adapt to each project. Many projects involve CNC milling in stone or metal and 3D printing prototypes in nylon, resin and plastics. These spaces remain flexible and evolve as new technologies become available. The facilities are equipped with six CNC milling machines, a cement printer, a fulgurite printer, a 7-Axis robot, and small 3D printers. Factum Arte relies on a number of local and international companies for specialised process and large-scale 3D printing.

One part of the digital output area.

The second concrete printer working in Anish Kapoor’s studio.

The Fulgarite printer in development for Ahmed Mater.

Precision milling of componants for new recording and output systems.

3D printing, using the material extrusion process that pushes a thermoplastic material through a heated nozzle.

Routing plaster blocks.

CNC milling aluminium

Stone cutting


Laser cutting

Large-scale precision engineering

Robot polishing.

Stone cutting

Waterjet cutting

Large-scale stone lathe.

Laser sintering.

Wire cutting stone.

Elevated printing technology developed by Océ.

Large painting chamber.

Centrifugal casting

3D printing with Materialise´s Mammoth SLA printer.


The digital printing area is at the heart of studios and plays a central role in Factum’s approach to the relationship between tone and form. It has been developed around a flatbed printer designed by Dwight Perry. A new version of this printer is currently being developed by Quinner Baird. Both systems enable Rafa Rachewsky, Jordi Pons and Eduardo López to print onto diverse surfaces (coated in house) by building up layers of colour. This approach has created new possibilities for artists and facilitated the creation of exact facsimiles of paintings.

Printing one of the panels of the Griffoni Polyptych with Factum’s flatbed printer.

Factum´s digital print studio

Printing one of the panels of the tomb of Seti I with Factum’s flatbed printer.

The coating room where gesso, gelatine and other materials are applied to different surfaces


The cutting-edge digital printing technology co-exists with a traditional printing presses making intaglio and relief prints. Traditional techniques such as mezzotint and woodburytype are being reinvigorated by the possibilities for plate making with CNC machines. Cyanotype is another process that has benefitted from the ability to print large scale negatives. Historical photographic process are also in use.

The photographic dark room where cyanotypes, woodburytypes and other traditional photographic process are carried out.

A facsimile of Goya´s etching press is still used alongside an electric press that once belonged to Lucio Muñoz.

Michael Ward working with CNC milled aluminium plates to produce new prints for El Anatsui.


A number of spaces have been designated for craft work. The ‘dirty workshop’ is for moulding and sculpting in materials such as fibreglass, resin, scagliola, wood and gesso. This space is large and various projects are carried out simultaneously. In this area, different teams work on diverse projects.

The ‘clean studio’ specializes in metal assembly, glass works and special projects requiring precision. The ‘metal studio’ is composed of two designated areas, one for large complex fabrication and the other for precise work with metals. Other spaces are used for experimentation and innovation.

Moulding, casting and transforming materials are at the heart of Factum’s production.

Factum’s craftsmen working on small and big scale contemporary art pieces in the ‘dirty’ space

The clean workshop for precision work in glass, stainless steel, silver and many different materials.

The workshop for mould-making and casting.

A space where the team work with delicate materials such as Murano glass

Metal studio for fabricating works in metal

A studio for precision finishing.

The dirty studio in action.

The workshop for mould-making and casting.

Different teams carry out different processes and work with diverse materials.

Electronic and audio work being carried out in an experimental studio

Preparing Jenny Holzer’s installation for Abu Dhabi Louvre in Factum Arte’s largest workshop space

Bottom: Finishing a 5 meter bronze tree for Marc Quinn.

Experiments with resin and electricity are taking place both in Factum´s studios and in Chicago.


The textile studio is used for the design and preparation of all digital stages involved in Jacquard weaving. Factum doesnt have a loom and works with craftsmen in Belgium to weave the tapestries. All finishing and assembly is done in Madrid. The Textile Studio is also involved in making replica tapestries and fabrics for museums and historic buildings where the fragile original materials can no longer be exhibited. Handtufting and embroidary is also carried out under the supervision of Blanca Nieto and Isabel Fernández.

The textile studio specializes in digital preservation and digital restoration

The textile studio specializes in contemporary tapestry and textile preservation

Factum has made many tapestries for different artists.

Factum Arte works with artists to push the boundaries of this versatile medium by researching new formats, fabrics and fibers


3D scanning and printing are leading to new innovations in frame making that depend on both new technology and traditional skill.

Experts in gilding and conservation create facsimiles of frames. The frame-making studio specializes in traditional gilding and finishing over 3D printed surfaces.




While Factum Arte never restores original objects, many traditional conservation skills are used to finish the works that are being made in the workshops.

Working on the re-creation of paintings destroyed in the C20th for the Sky Arts series Lost Paintings.


The transfer of data between image and form means we often depend on painting and manual work as well as printing.

The large painting studio.

One of the painting studios.

The workshop also contains a pressurized heated painting chamber for special paintings finishes


This section of the studio is reserved for special activities requiring a large and quiet space. This area is often used to mount exhibitions or to teach special workshops about art techniques and recording technology.


Facsimiles of a pair of Lamassu installed at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden.

Installing Jenny Holzer's Bilingual Creation Myth at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Facsimile of Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo´s Borgherini Chapel installed at the National Gallery, London.


Glass: Canova’s Paulina Borghese cast in glass by Giberto Arrivabene, Venice.

Stainless Steel: Marc Quinn, 8 meter long fragment of a shell cast in stainless steel 316 at Fademesa foundry, Madrid.

Aluminium: Mariko Mori Moebius strip cast in aluminium.

Brass tree for the Mercato del Duomo, Milan. Cast at Esfinge, Madrid.

Flexible alloys - experimentation and material science.

Concrete: Marc Quinn Eye of History cast in concrete.

Corten: Conrad Shawcross Manifest cast in corten

Silver: Piranesi’s coffeepot cast in silver cast at Pangolin, UK.


Salt: Marina Abramović cast in salt.

Cast Lava

CNC milled alabaster: Marina Abramović, 5 Stages of Maya Dance.

Fibreglass: Shezad Dawood, Why Depend on Space and Time cast in fibreglass with trichromate paint.

CNC mezzotint burnishing.

3D large-scale stereo-lithographic printing.

CNC milled woodburytype mould.



PENELOPE’S LABOUR - WEAVING WORDS AND IMAGES Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 2011.


FACSIMILE OF THE TOMB OF TUTANKHAMUN Installed at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings, 2014.





Factum Arte web
Factum Foundation web

2016 Factum Foundation report
2014 The complex relationship between image and skin (text by Adam Lowe)

2019 CBS News on the re-materialisation of the tomb of Seti I
2018 Patek Philippe video
2017 PBS news report
2016 The Veronica Scanner

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