A World of Fragile Parts

Biennale di Architettura di Venezia, 2016

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In early 2016, the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Preservation was invited to work on a special project with the Victoria & Albert Museum for La Biennale di Architettura di Venezia, which ran from May 28th – November 27th 2016.

Image © Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

The exhibition, held at the Special Project Applied Arts Pavilion (at the Sale d’Armi, Arsenale in Venice) and curated by Brendan Cormier with help by Danielle Thom, explored the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and discussed how the production of copies can aid in the conservation of cultural sites and artefacts.

Museums have a long history of producing copies. In the 19th century, the V&A led an effort to produce and display plaster casts of significant works of art for the benefit of art students and local audiences who could not travel to important sites across Europe and its purpose built Cast Courts in the Museum still remain open today. Cast collections proliferated throughout Europe and America as an educational tool. However, in the early 20th century, attitudes towards the value of copies shifted, and many of these collections were discarded.

The rematerialisation of a piece from the Basilica di San Petronio, Bolognia

As sites of major cultural importance across the globe become increasingly threatened by human and environmental factors, and as three-dimensional digital technology becomes infinitely more refined, so the discussion regains major pertinence.

Factum has been at the forefront of this debate for almost two decades - using the latest, highest-resolution digital technologies to record sites and artifacts of significant importance around the world, and training others to do the same.

Paolina Borghese in glass, red wax and resin
Image © Andrea Avezzù, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Factum Foundation participated with the V&A for the reproduction of a panel from the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna, routed on resin and marble from previously recorded data, specially for the exhibition. Along with this facsimile, three Paolina Borhese statues were materialised in resin, wax and glass. Also sent was the bronze gilt bust of Stephen Rubin, recorded with Factum´s own Veronica Scanner which produces accurate, digital 3D models in just four seconds using photogrammetry.

The bust of Stephen Rubin - scanned with Factum Arte´s Veronica Scanner and reproduced in gilt bronze on a marble bust


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