The debate around AI art went viral once again when a man won first place at the Colorado State Fair’s art competition in the digital category with a work he made using text-to-image AI generator Midjourney.
Twitter user and digital artist Genel Jumalon tweeted out a screenshot from a Discord channel in which user Sincarnate, aka game designer Jason Allen, celebrated his win at the fair. Jumalon wrote, “Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize. Yeah that’s pretty fucking shitty.”
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The comments on the post range from despair and anger as artists, both digital and traditional, worry that their livelihoods might be a stake after years of believing that creative work would be safe from AI-driven automation.
TL;DR — Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize.
Yeah that's pretty fucking shitty. pic.twitter.com/vjn1IdJcsL
— Genel Jumalon ✈️ Nan Desu Kan (@GenelJumalon) August 30, 2022
Allen, for his part, isn’t sorry that he won. In an interview with the Pueblo Chieftain, Allen said, “I wanted to make a statement using artificial intelligence artwork. I feel like I accomplished that, and I’m not going to apologize for it.”
Allen submitted three works created with Midjourney after testing out a variety of phrases, though he has thus far refused to share the combination of words he fed to the generator to create his winning work. According to his interview with the Chieftain, he priced each work at $750 dollars, a price he felt was commensurate with the amount of time it took him to create the works, which he estimated took around 80 hours.
The winning work, Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, is a lush scene in which three figures occupy a gilded room with a huge circular window that looks out onto a distant landscape. The image is transportive, and Allen had hoped from the beginning that it would win, not for the sake of achieving victory but for the sake of staking a claim for artists.
“I feel like, right now, the art community is heading into an existential crisis if it’s not already. A big factor of that is largely due to the disruptive technology of open AI,” Allen told the Chieftain. “A lot of people are saying, ‘AI is never going to take over creative jobs, that’s never going to be something that artists and sculptors have to worry about.’ And here we are smack in the middle of it, dealing with it right now.”
In the future, Allen suggested, the fair might want to include an AI subcategory for the digital art prize.