Different parts of the process of making the facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
Full Article: https://www.factum-arte.com/pag/5/Laser-Scanning
New developments: Factum Arte’s Lucida scanner
A new 3D laser scanner for the Art world designed built and programmed by Factum Arte has been released: The Lucida 3D scanner, a dual camera with one laser scanner.
From the general conception to the smallest detail, everything in this system has been purpose-built and programmed to provide solutions to the specific problems we have faced in ten years we have been scanning paintings and other surfaces that require the highest accuracy and resolution.
The fundamental principle of the Lucida scanner, fairly well understood by anyone familiar with these systems, is based on a process of triangulation to obtain the data. A laser stripe similar to a bar code reader is projected onto the object and, as it travels over the surface, the deviations to the line of light, produced by the relief, are recorded by two USB video cameras. As our specific requirements directed the design and engineering process some beautiful solutions emerged with a poetry and elegence of their own.
The design process
The type of research and development carried out to bring this project into reality underpins all the work Factum Arte does. Patrick Blackett (1897-1974), the former head of Imperial College
London, socialist and nuclear physicist wrote:
“The experimental physicist must be a jack-of-all-trades, a versatile but amateur craftsman. He must blow glass and turn metal, though he could never earn his living as a glass blower nor even be classed as a skilled mechanic; he must carpenter, photograph, wire electric circuits and be a master of gadgets of all kinds; he may find invaluable a training as an engineer and can profit always by utilizing his gifts as a mathematician. In such activities he will be engaged for three quarters of his working day. During the rest he must be a physicist, that is, he must cultivate an intimacy with the behaviour of the physical world.”
This is a very good description of Manuel Franquelo, the artist and engineer who is behind the conception of the scanner. It could also be applied to the team at work with him in Factum Arte´s workshops, as we attempt to cultivate an intimacy with the parts of the physical world we are in contact with. Among the different people involved, we understand the theory, the mathematics, the engineering limitations, the problems caused by the expansion and contraction of the materials, the speckle noise, the tricks that help and the lateral jumps that are required to come up with new solutions. We are familiar with the approximations, mediation, transformations and limitations of each stage of the process.
The recording of the world’s heritage in two and three dimensions is costly and time consuming – but it doesn’t need to be this way!. It has not been commercially targeted by most of the hardware and software companies as the profit margins are not sufficiently attractive. Also, the business models that are developed often depend on the control and exploitation of the copyright of the recorded data – an approach that presents significant problems and concerns to many institutions who are custodians of our cultural heritage.
Factum Arte is in the position of providing practical solutions to both of these issues:
On the one hand, we work closely with the institutions to ensure that the copyright stays under their control (in addition we help them format the data so it can be used for study and conservation purposes as well as in publications).
On the other, we have built up a team of designers, engineers and software developers working to overcome the technical challenges that result from the high-resolution recording of works of Art.
Scanning in two and a half dimensions:
Museo del Prado, April 2011
Factum Arte’s Lucida 3D laser scanner, though still at a prototype stage, was used in the Museo Del Prado to record paintings by Titian and Rubens. The results demonstrate that the scanner has overcome many of the limitations that have restricted the use of 3D scanners for the documentation and monitoring of cultural artifacts.
A chapter prepared by Bruno Latour & Adam Lowe for Thomas Bartscherer (editor) Switching Codes, University of Chicago Press. Version 3.
“But it’s not the original, it’s just a facsimile!”. How often have we heard such a retort when confronted with an otherwise perfect reproduction of a painting? No question about it, the obsession of the age is for the original version. Only the original possesses an aura, this mysterious and mystical quality that no second hand version will ever get. But paradoxically, this obsession for pinpointing originality increases proportionally with the availability and accessibility of more and more copies of better and better quality. If so much energy is devoted to the search for the original — for archeological and marketing reasons— it is because the possibility of making copies has never been so open-ended. If no copies of the Mona Lisa existed would we pursue it with such energy — and would we devise so many conspiracy theories to decide whether or not the version held under glass and protected by sophisticated alarms is the original surface painted by Leonardo’s hand or not. In other words, the intensity of the search for the original depends on the amount of passion and the number of interests triggered by its copies. No copies, no original. In order to stamp a piece with the mark of originality you need to apply to its surface the huge pressure that only a great number of reproductions can provide.
For several years, Factum Arte built with British sculptor Anish Kapoor on developing a working 3D cement printer that can print directly from CAD files. A prototype was built for GENESIS, an exhibition about genetics that opened in Utrecht in May 2007. Finished sculptures using the 3D cement printing technique were finely shown in 2009 at the Royal Academy.
A lot of the work being done with experimental 3D printing materials highlights a beauty structure and chance. A sturdy structural material becomes organic and unstable by mixing the printing process with different cement mixes. The process and the work Kappor and Factum did together on the 3D cement printing was detailed in the books ‘Unconformity and Entropy.’
Almost all of this text comes from the Factum Arte website. I have long admired the work they do in their conservation facsimiles and reproductions. The short film above is about Factum Arte’s production of three facsimiles of paintings by Caravaggio in San Luigi dei Francesi.
From Factum Arte:
To coincide with the 400th anniversary of the death of the Italian artist Caravaggio, the Municipality of Caravaggio has commissioned the Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Factum Arte to make facsimiles of three paintings in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. These facsimiles will form part of content for a new Research Centre scheduled to open in September 2010. The high resolution recordings were carried out over a 4 week period 15th September to 14th October 2009. Work on the facsimiles, as well as on the production of a browser that allows the digital files to be viewed up to 5 times the real size, is ongoing.
The three paintings, depicting scenes from the life of St Matthew were commissioned for, and are currently housed in, the Contarelli Chapel and were actually Caravaggio’s first public commission. Initially the commission consisted of two large paintings, Calling of St Matthew and Martyrdom of St Matthew 1599–1600, with the third, St Matthew and the Angel, added in 1602. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 –1610) was one of the most influential Italian painters of the 17th century. His work proposed a new form of gritty realism which answered the requirements of the counter reformation. However, it provoked great controversy and some critics found his style inappropriate when applied to religious contexts. His use of artificial and theatrical light lent a heightened sense of drama to the scenes and characters depicted, charging his paintings with an intense pathos. More recently the paintings have been the subject of a different type of controversy; David Hockney, Roberta Lapucci and others have suggested that the images were made using some form of optical system. Evidence supported by the high resolution documentation points towards this theory and Factum Arte is now working with the Spanish realist painter Manuel Franquelo to reveal how they believe the paintings were actually made. The result of this collaboration will be a short video that will be shown at the Research Centre.
The three facsimiles will allow academics and enthusiasts to view the works up close, and study them in great depth. The original works, hanging in their intended location in the Contarelli Chapel attract many visitors and as a result can only be seen at an angle as access into the chapel has been reduced.
The level and accuracy of the documentation is unparalleled. There are two photographic stages in order to capture every detail in the paintings. The first is high resolution photography. All the paintings were photographed is small sections as 1:1 images taken at 700 dpi. This was done using equipment specifically designed for this work. The mosaic of photographs are stitched together in Madrid to create a one huge file of each painting (approximately 6 gigabytes for each painting). Factum Arte’s conservation experts make exact colour charts which are an essential tool to ensure exact colour when making the facsimiles. The second type of photographs are raking light images which reveal subtle changes in the surface, the complex texture in the ground and paint layers, cracking and interventions made during restoration. This information is vital for recreating the texture and surface on the facsimile.