The artistic community has a new challenger: artificial intelligence. Now this statement isn’t just a wishy-washy look towards one potential future of what could be, nor is it the frankly hilarious (mis)use of apps like DALL·E – it is very much the here and now. An AI painter just won an art competition.
Colorado State Fair’s 2022 edition held a fine art contest, with the digital arts category won by one Jason Allen. Allen is a video game designer by trade, but his work was deemed good enough to walk away with the rosette and $300 prize money. What makes this particularly normal-sounding event stand out, though, is that the piece Allen submitted was created entirely using AI.
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Allen had used Midjourney – like DALL·E, another AI art-maker – spending around 80 hours crafting his piece, titled Théâtre D’opéra Spatial. He actually entered three pieces to the competition in total, but it was the one piece that claimed a prize. So the competition was won and the prize claimed… but then: the aftermath.
The negativity towards Allen and his process has been, of course, swift to arrive – claims of taking the human out of the art making it ‘not art’ were thrown around, alongside jabs aimed at the amount of effort Allen put into the winning piece. That said, there’s been plenty of commentary around the place supporting the move, with plenty both in and out of the artistic community celebrating the use of what is seen by some as simply a new tool to help Make Some Art.
"after may weeks of fine tuning and curating" ...as if that takes any effort at all— Sanguiphilia 🩸 (@Sanguiphilia) August 30, 2022
This is so gross. I can see how ai art can be beneficial, but claiming you're an artist by generating one? Absolutely not.
I can see lots of kids cheating their way through assignments with this
Whatever the response, the fact is this is another step forward for an emerging branch of art production. Plenty of AI-driven apps and services are making themselves known across the globe – art is just one of many, with the likes of AI conversation tools ever-more common, and the ever-improving AI that goes into many popular video games. But there’s a different feel with this whole story – a question of legitimacy that doesn’t really come up so much when AI is incorporated into other domains. You don’t really question a text chat with an AI bot – it is what it is. You don’t worry too much about enemy soldiers hiding directly behind the explosive red barrel (again) – that’s just video game AI. But an AI-created piece of art? It’s different. Emotional, in many different ways.
There is quite literally nothing wrong with this. Should the person have been more upfront about the tools they used? Probably. But ai is just that: a tool. The same way I use oil as a tool, the same way a photographer uses photoshops burn tool as a tool. Art is art.— Vex🍂👻🍂 (@VexingLive) August 31, 2022
So we put it to you, the Talenthouse community: what do you think of an AI-generated piece of art winning a fine (digital) art competition? Do you think Allen’s entry was a legitimate usage of an emerging technology, given we now live in the future? Is it the death-knell for art as we know it, entering into a world where the machines control what we admire in the gallery?
Or maybe you think neither of those things and something else entirely? Sound off in the comments below: we’re keen to hear what our dedicated, talented users think – this is the sort of thing that impacts creatives directly, after all.
It’s a polarising discussion that’s for sure – but whatever the case I, for one, welcome our new artistic robot overlords.