For centuries, innovation has challenged the way society defines art. Artists including pointillism pioneer Georges Seurat and Paul Signac are among the founders of the Paris-based Independent Fair in 1884, who rebelled against traditional, government-supported Paris Salon. When photography made its debut, it was also criticized as too technical to be a fine art form. The same thing happened to some extent when digital photography burst onto the scene. And now the 21st century equivalent has arrived. At the center is a creator named Jason Allen, whose AI-generated artwork took first prize at the Colorado State Fair and is causing a stir in the creative community.
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The “work of art” in question.
Alan used the AI image synthesizer Midjourney to generate his winning series ‘Théâtre D’Opera Spatial’. The canvases, which depict rich baroque opera scenes with an otherworldly, intergalactic flavor, won first place in the amateur division of the Digital Art category at the Colorado State Fair. Allen celebrated by sharing the news on Midjourney’s Discord server (which was down at the time of publication), and it was later picked up on Twitter. The feedback wasn’t entirely positive, prompting Allen to clarify his intent:
“I wanted to make a statement using AI artwork,” Allen said The Pueblo Chief. “I feel like I’ve achieved that and I’m not going to apologize for it.”
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The reaction to Jason Allen’s works with artificial intelligence
When news of Allen’s win spread, the internet had some strong words in response. In particular, many comments made the argument that his victory belittled the efforts of human creators.
“We are watching the death of artistry unfold right before our eyes – if creative jobs are not protected by machines, then even highly skilled jobs are in danger of becoming obsolete. What will we have then?” one Twitter user wrote.
Another argued that work produced by AI is not really art at all.
“AI cannot create art because anything generated by AI is completely devoid of messages, themes and meaning. There is no intentional transmission on the part of the “artist” if said artist is not actively thinking about the message of their work. Which I doubt the AI does. @TarouN17 tweeted.
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On the other hand, one user likened AI image generation to photography. Although there is a machine involved, the human element gives it an artistic flair.
“I don’t see a problem with that. I don’t know how this is so different from photography. [The] one spent weeks perfecting the inputs and then sifted through hundreds of options to arrive at the “best”. This requires subjective artistic experience. It’s not like the AI did it on its own,” Ben Rhodes wrote in the thread.
What will happen to the submission?
According to The Pueblo Chief, Allen specifically made it clear that he used Midjourney in the creation of “Théâtre D’Opera Spatial”. And according to the preliminary examination, he did not break any rules. The guidelines for the Digital Art/Digitally Manipulated Photography category state that a work of art can be defined as “(Digital Art) An artistic practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentational process. (Digitally manipulated photography) Digitally editing a photo more than 10%.’
The fair rules state that anyone can file a complaint against a filing, but must post a $300 bond, detail the rules violated, and serve the letter in person. Nothing has been submitted at this time.
“It’s a larger conversation about how we decide what art is and how we value it appropriately?” Colorado Department of Agriculture Communications Director Olga Roebuck told the paper.
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So is AI art?
“A lot of people say, ‘AI is never going to take over creative jobs, it’s never going to be something artists and sculptors have to worry about.’ And here we are in the middle of it, dealing with it right now.” , Allen said. “Perhaps ultimately hatred and animosity stem from fear. Artists are scared. They are worried about being replaced by the robot.
Like its predecessors, AI will have to fight for recognition as an art form. It also raises the question of what makes something “art?” Is it the physicality of creating something by hand? The concept of the idea? With the advent of photography, artists also wondered if they would be out of a job, but on the heels of photography came the explosion of modernism and the world of Picasso, Braque and others who would transform the way the world defined artistic expression. It remains to be seen how artificial intelligence will affect this field.
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