The winner, Jason Allen, is president of Incarnate Games, a Colorado-based board games company. He won in the digital art category with a work called “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” or “Space Opera Theater”.
A 39-year-old won first prize at the Colorado State Fair fine art contest last week for the work he created using artificial intelligence (AI). While the development has reignited the heated debate about AI in art, the man behind the artwork is unmoved. Amid criticism, he told the New York Times: “I’m not going to apologize for that … I won and I didn’t break any rules.
Artwork and the winner
The winner, Jason Allen, is president of Incarnate Games, a Colorado-based tabletop gaming company. He won in the category of digital art with the work “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” or ‘Space Opera Theater”.
As the title suggests, this artwork depicts a space with costumed figures looking out from a viewing area. This work combines elements of space opera and classical baroque.
As the title suggests, the work depicts a spatial setting with robed figures looking through a viewing window. The work combines space opera and classical baroque elements.
How was the artwork created?
It was created with Midjourney, an artificial intelligence software that converts text prompts into visual images. The beta version of the software was available from July 2022 and allowed users without artistic training to create highly detailed works of art. Critics of AI-generated art like this argue that turning prompts into art is like paint-by-numbers, meaning no real artistry or dexterity is required. Midjourney can create a digital artwork in minutes which would normally take hours, if not days. “Users type a series of words into a message in Midjourney; the bot returns an image seconds later, “noted the NYT.
AI threat to art?
After Allen’s post about his award-winning artwork was posted on Twitter, it drew strong reactions.
“This is so gross,” wrote one user. “I can see how useful AI art can be, but pretending you’re an artist by creating one? Absolutely not.”
Another tweet read: “We’re watching the death of artistry unfold before our eyes — if creative jobs aren’t safe from machines, then even high-skilled jobs are in danger of becoming obsolete.”
The winner’s defence
Midjourney usually uses prompts to create multiple versions, and the user then chooses the best result. Allen reportedly had hundreds of iterations, selecting the three best and printing them on canvas. He reportedly submitted it in the digital art category under the title “Jason M Allen via Midjourney,” meaning he revealed the nature of the artwork to the judges.
Additionally, as reported by The New York Times, the category’s rules allow for any “art practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or performance process.” This may mean that creating art with an AI program is no different than using other software such as Photoshop. However, the judges did not know that Midjourney was an AI program and went on to say that even if they had known, they would have declared Allen the winner. Many believe that the growing popularity of AI-based art will create a separate category that separates it from other forms of digital art.