L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-11-1-2018

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 W e live in a society which is digitalized, IT driven, h y p e r - connected. A society that lives off social networks, virtual reality and never leaves an app- filled smartphone or tablet behind. A society that uses remotely activated domotic appliances, and coins and exchanges alternative currencies that only exist in Blockchains and cannot be used to buy milk and bread. A society that entrusts its personal data and images, its market trends and the financial reliability of its countries to cold algorithms, today even able to create "works of art." The news recently reported how the Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, entirely created by an artificial form of intelligence, has been sold by Christie's for 432.000 USD. This painting, which in fact isn't a painting at all, has been created by putting together a computer's calculations and the images of about 15.000 portraits painted between the 14th and the 20th centuries by real, flesh and bones painters, using oil, colors and animal hair's brushes. AI's painting marks a moment of change. This is confirmed also by another set of data, somehow unsettling, but also merely linked to novelty and to the financial gain one can obtain from it (as it has recently happened to a reproduction of Banksy's Girl with Ballon, which self destructed only seconds after being sold by Sotheby's for over one million pounds sterling). The canvas, printed by color printers, was sold for twice as much as an Andy Warhol print and a Roy Lichtenstein's bronze statue, both listed on the same day by Christie's. When it comes to money, artificial art can easily surpass a product that carries emotions within and is associated to the life of someone. There is an entirely new world around us, a world which has been creating horizons we would have never imagined. Contrarily to the space travels of our courageous astronauts, to the millennia long dream - first poetical, then technological - to reach the Moon, contrarily also to the hi-tech space probes we sent to Mars with the knowledge of hundreds of scientists on board, this revolution has been taking place inside our own homes, literally in our hands. It's a fascinating world that has been changing our habits and needs, designing anew environment, skills and interests. Today, we need mathematical minds (not necessarily human) and 3D printers, computers and developers, robots and humanoids, automations and calculators, smartphones and chips. Just a couple of clicks on your Will we be able to keep the wisdom of our antichi mestieri? From the director smartphone's camera, a simple image editing program are sufficient to erase red eyes from pictures and there is no longer any need for that photographer, we used to call for birthday parties to take pictures of our family gatherings. In a handful of years, we'll no longer hear that nostalgic donne, รจ arrivato l'arrotino (women! The knife sharpener is here!). We only need an e-commerce hub to get worthy substitutes shipped from somewhere in Asia: in spite of the intercontinental shipping, they still manage to cost half as much as the sharpening service we used to rely on to give a new lease of life to time-consumed kitchen knives and scissors we would entrust to the slow craftsman who walked our streets with his small megaphone, to call all housewives out on their balconies. Knife sharpeners will disappear, just like our mountains' lumberjacks, just like the fishermen still able to tie their nets back together or the chair makers and menders who used to fix broken chairs. The way times change, we can see it even in how difficult it has become to find a shoemaker. If resoling a shoe, fixing an upper or changing a heel costs more than a new pair of kicks, then it's obvious we're in front of a job, with all its baggage of knowledge, craftsmanship, art, skills and economy, that is no longer needed. The same fate belongs to tailors and embroiderers. Once upon a time, clothes were made and altered several times, to create new models from the same fabric. In times of hardship, nothing was throw and everything was recycled. Grandpa's old coat would turn into dad's suit jacket, while mom's skirt would become a daughter's pinafore. Today, we consider old and throw away a t shirt we wore three or four times. In the end, stores are chockfull of very cheap clothes, even when sales aren't on. The old fashioned carter who used to carry people and goods shouting at his mule has been obliterated by motorized transports. The potter who used to make jars for oil and wine and the various terracottas for our food supplies has been replaced by disposable plastic. Vending machines made ice cream carts, once a staple of our beaches, useless and turned fruit vendors walking under the summer sun chanting "cocco bello, cocco fresco" - a cherished childhood memory for many - only a folkloristic character. Gone are also the boys, often Italian American, who used to deliver ice to American homes. Beside the sadness coming with the idea of what we've been loosing, these old fashioned, disappearing crafts tell us of a world that no longer exists, tell us of a far in time country, with its craftsmen, its ancient knowledge passed from a generation to the other, of goldsmiths and carvers' ateliers where father would teach their children how to make one of a kind pieces. We've been loosing also that highly skilled craftsmanship which made Italy known all over the world. I wonder if we'll manage to reach the same level of excellence in these new, contemporary professions or, at least, if we'll be smart enough to never forget our ancient skills and adapt them to modern necessities. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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