“Smart is a way of being, not a technology”
Roberto Masiero, an architect and professor of architectural history born in 1944, is a scholar of the arts and sciences within the context of a broad history of ideas and politics. He has several works published in various languages and has staged notable art shows. In 2002, he was the creative director of the Swiss International Expo section in Neuchâtel. He is on the Scientific Committee of the Francesco Fabbri Foundation in Pieve di Soligo and the Collodi Foundation in Pescia.
He is a full professor of history of architecture at the University Institute of Architecture in Venice, as well as an architect and historian of the arts and sciences in the framework of a broad history of ideas. He was also a professor at the Universities of Genoa and Trieste. He helped to establish the Trieste Faculty of Architecture and the IUAV’s Design and Arts faculty, and he was also Vice-Dean. He was in charge of an observatory on art academies, faculties of architecture, and engineering in Europe for the EU.
He was on the Scientific Committees of the Experimental Observatory for the Landscape of the Alta Marca Hills and the Observatory for the Landscape of Eastern Veneto Reclamation. He has been working with Italiadecide on the issue of the interaction between government and the digital world since 2014. He is now working on a text titled After the technique on the shift from the industrial to the digital modes of production.
‘For me, it was evident that not just the problem of kitsch (of bad taste) was in debate, but mainly the question: How can we define beauty nowadays,’ he says in one of his discussions. And we must also determine if it is objective or subjective and whether it must be relevant to everyone or simply to me.’
According to the scientific literature of cultural anthropology, the concept of beauty in so-called primitive cultures was something pleasant, helpful, and gratifying that made you feel good. For example, the portrayal of divinity was frequently achieved by the use of shapes that can only be described as ugly or awful. Even in the society that preceded the ancient Greek age, which we call Classical, there is an empirical perception of beauty.
Through the discussion, he emphasizes that to achieve a timeless state, beauty should be equal to itself, identifiable in its natural unity, and sustained by universal compositional norms. What we term classical and attempt to place in a single period or style, and hence in a certain language, was born to be timeless and reinforces the fundamental concept of identity as absolute form. To summarize: beauty as good, truth, and order are objective and transcend particular persons’ inclinations and interests. Beautiful pieces of art must always be subject to precise and meta-historical laws. The metaphysical is the premise. This is the classical language of art history.
He believes that theory and practice must be constantly intertwined. Perhaps factuality is the important word: thinking that acts and behaving that thinks. If we do not discover a solution to our problem, it signifies that what we have learned is utterly meaningless. Smart was assumed to be a technological challenge, particularly in Italy. Smart cities, for example, included replacing public street lighting with solar bulbs or managing differentiated traffic using sensors, among other things. Being smart isn’t limited to technology. He affirms that even the digital is not a technological issue, but rather a way of being, or, in moral terms, an epistemological and even ontological one.
He argues that, while digital provides the door to an unexpected future, it also forces us to revert to past factual relationships. To demonstrate this, he provides the case of how there is no longer a boundary between a city and the countryside, although, in the past, cities were part of civilizations that linked humanity to history. He claims that everything has now become sprawl, a thriving city, shapeless chaos. There is no longer any space on the planet that is not man-made.
Masiero tackles a highly debated topic: smart cities. In his book “Dalla smart city alla smart land”, he describes a smart city as an organic metropolis, a system of systems that tackles the challenge of globalization in terms of inclusivity in the urban area. It demonstrates how his vision is an interconnected, collaborative, and sustainable future contradicts the concept of a smart city employing breaking technology and intelligent management systems. His smart philosophy subject is quite interesting; it is a new way of interpreting technology in the smart world.
According to him, the fundamental argument is that the smart opportunity is a technological revolution, in its new meaning in the digital era, but above all, economic and social. He believes that tackling this issue will benefit society.
He created the scripts for many films directed by A. Kestenholz, including Livio Vacchini (2002) (for which he received the “Grand Prix de Immagage” in Paris at the International Festival of Art and Pedagogy Film, Unesco 2002), Domenico Fontana (2007), and Pellegrino Tibald i. (2014). He took part in the Italiadecide sessions in 2015 to help shape the 2016 Report. Italiadecide: 8 Theses for Smart Growth and Innovation, il Mulino, Rome, 2016.
In 2016, he was in charge of two days dedicated to the Internet of Things at the University of Udine’s Conoscenza in the Festa Festival.