For centuries, innovation has challenged the way society defines art. Artists such as pointillism pioneer Georges Seurat and Paul Signac were among the founders of the Paris-based company Independents Fair in 1884 who revolted against traditional Paris, supported by the government Living room. When photography made its debut, it too was criticized for being too technical to be an 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 won first prize at the Colorado State Fair and is causing an uproar in the creative community.
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The “work” in question
Allen used the AI Midjourney image synthesizer to generate his winning series, “Space Opera Theater”. The canvases, which depict rich Baroque opera scenes with an otherworldly intergalactic flair, 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 is down at the time of publication), and it was later picked up on Twitter. The feedback was not all positive, forcing Allen to clarify his intent:
“I wanted to make a statement using artificial intelligence illustrations,” Allen said. The Pueblo Chief. “I feel like I accomplished that, and I’m not going to apologize for that.”
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The reaction to Jason Allen’s AI artwork
As news of Allen’s victory spread, the internet had strong words in reaction. In particular, many comments argued that his victory denigrated the efforts of human creators.
“We are witnessing the death of art unfolding before our eyes. If creative jobs are not machine-proof, then even highly skilled jobs are at risk of becoming obsolete. What will we have then? wrote a Twitter user.
Another argued that AI-produced work isn’t really art.
“AI cannot create art because anything generated by an AI is entirely devoid of messages, themes and meaning. There is no intentional transmission from the “artist if said artist isn’t actively thinking about the message of his work, which I doubt the AI will. @TarouN17 tweeted.
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On the other hand, one user compared AI image generation to photography. Although a machine is involved, the human element gives it an artistic twist.
“I don’t see a problem with that. I don’t know how it’s so different from photography. [The] person spent weeks tweaking the entry, then combed through hundreds of options to arrive at the “best” ones. It requires a subjective artistic experience. It’s not like the AI did it on its own. Ben Rhoades wrote in the thread.
What will happen to the submission?
According The Pueblo Chieftan, Allen made it clear that he employed Midjourney in the creation of the “Space Opera Theater”. And, according to a preliminary review, he broke no rules. The guidelines for the Digital Art/Digital Manipulated Photography category state that a work of art can be defined as an “artistic practice (of digital arts) that uses digital technology as part of the process of creation or presentation. (digitally manipulated photograph) Digital edition of a photograph at greater than 10%.
Fair Trade Rules state that anyone can file a grievance against a bid, however, they must post $300 bond, detail the rules violated, and serve the letter in person. So far, nothing has been filed.
“It’s about a larger conversation about how we decide what art is and how do we judge it appropriately?” Colorado Department of Agriculture communications director Olga Robak told the newspaper.
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So, is AI art?
“A lot of people say, ‘AI will never take over creative jobs, it’s never going to be something artists and sculptors have to worry about. And we’re right in the middle of that, dealing with it right now,” Allen said. “Maybe in the end, hatred and animosity come from fear. Artists are afraid. They fear being replaced by the robot.
Like its predecessors, AI will have to fight to be recognized as an art form. It also begs the question, what makes something “art?” Is it the physicality of creating something by hand? The conception of the idea? With the advent of photography painters also wondered if they would be out of work, but on the heels of photography came the explosion of modernism and the world of Picasso, Braque and others that would transform the how the world defined artistic expression. It remains to be seen what the impact of artificial intelligence will be on the ground.
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