An AI-generated artwork has won first place in a state fine arts competition and the artists are pissed

A man came first in the Colorado State Fair fine art competition using an AI-generated artwork on Monday. “I won first place,” a user named Sincarnate said in a Discord post above photos of the AI-generated canvases hung at the fair.

Sincarnate’s name is Jason Allen, who is president of the Colorado-based tabletop gaming company Embodied Games. According to state fair website, he won in the digital art category with a work entitled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial”. The image, which Allen printed on canvas for submission, is stunning. It depicts an eerie scene that looks like it came from a space opera, and it looks like a masterfully done painting. Classical figures in a baroque hall staircase pass through a circular window into a sunny, radiant landscape.

But Allen didn’t paint “Space Opera Theater”, AI software called Midjourney did. He used his prompts, but Allen didn’t use a digital brush. The accolade sparked controversy on Twitter where working artists and enthusiasts accused Allen of hastening the death of creative jobs.

“TL;DR – Someone entered an art contest with an AI-generated work and won first prize”, artist Genel Jumalon said in a viral tweet on Allen’s victory. “Yeah, that’s pretty shitty.”

“We watch the death of art unfold before our eyes”, a Twitter user passing by OmniMorpho said in a reply which gained over 2,000 likes. “If creative jobs are not machine-proof, then even highly skilled jobs risk becoming obsolete. What will we have then?

“I knew it would be controversial,” Allen said Tuesday on the Midjourney Discord server. “How interesting how all these people on Twitter who are against AI-generated art are the first to throw the human under the bus by discrediting the human element! Does that sound hypocritical to you? »

Motherboard contacted Allen, who replied that he was embarking on a 12-hour ride and could not comment immediately.

According to Allen, his input was instrumental in shaping the award-winning painting. “I explored a special prompt that I will post later, created hundreds of images using it, and after several weeks of fine-tuning and curating my folks, I chose my top 3 and got printed on canvas after breaking free from Gigapixel AI,” he wrote in a post before the winners were announced.

Allen said his critics judge art by the method of its creation, and that eventually the art world will recognize AI-created art as its own category. “What if we looked at it from the other extreme, and if an artist did a series of extremely difficult and complicated constraints in order to create a piece, say, they did their art while hanging upside down and being whipped painting”, he said. “Should this artist’s work be evaluated differently than another artist who created the same piece ‘normally’? I know what will happen to this in the end, they will just create an “art of artificial intelligence” category I imagine for things like that.

Artists are concerned about the rise of AI-generated art. Atlantic writer Charlie Warzel went viral after posting an edition of the magazine newsletter with a photo of Alex Jones generated by Midjourney. A major release using AI for art instead of a human has upset a lot of people. “Technology is increasingly being deployed to create gig jobs and enrich billionaires, and a lot of it doesn’t seem to benefit the public enough,” cartoonist Matt Borrs told Warzel in a tracking piece. “AI art is one of them. For developers and tech-savvy people, that’s cool stuff, but for illustrators, it’s very upsetting because it feels like you’ve eliminated the need to hire the illustrator.

Allen said he clearly labeled his state fair submission as “Jason Allen via Midjourney”, and once again noted the human element required to produce the work. “I generate images with MJ, I do passes with Photoshop and I scale up with Gigapixel.”

Despite the controversy, the victory only encouraged him. “I’m not stopping now,” he said. “This victory has only emboldened my mission.”

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