Image source: NY Times
While AI has been largely beneficial across several industries, it has become the source of controversy as one man passed an AI-generated image in an art contest.
Jason M. Allen, 39, came out on top when he submitted an image that won the “digital arts/digitally-manipulated photography” category at the Colorado State Fair last week.
The submitted work
According to CNN, Allen was nervous about participating, but his decision to do so earned him the victory and the $300 prize.
The image “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” which translates to Space Opera Theater, depicts a scene out of a sci-fi fantasy concept, showing women in elaborate dresses gazing into a portal.
Jason M. Allen
Jason M. Allen, the man who submitted the AI-generated image, is the founder and lead developer of board game company Incarnate Games.
Based in Pueblo West, Colorado, Allen decided to take his chance in the contest despite his hesitation.
“I’m fascinated by this imagery,” said Allen. “I love it. And I think everyone should see it.”
The tool that developed the image
While Jason M. Allen was ecstatic to earn the top prize in his first attempt at a competition, it was revealed that he used Midjourney.
Midjourney is a Discord-based AI art generated that has been making the rounds online recently.
It is one of many AI image generators like Imagen from Google Research and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2.
While Allen did not go through the same processes that most artists do, he said that the image did not come so easily.
According to him, there was plenty of work involved.
Jason M. Allen stated that the work took 80 hours to render – he played with phrases to generate images of the women in Victorian-style dresses and space helmets.
Allen developed over 900 iterations of what would be the submitted images of the women before cleaning them up on Photoshop.
He later ran the images through Gigapixel AI to improve the resolution and later got the piece printed on canvas.
Reaction to the win
Allen’s use of AI to render the work raised outrage over the award, with many saying it took away from the hard work humans invested to physically create genuine artworks.
“Jason Allen, you are NOT an artist. You have never used actual tools. Just texts,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Midjourney can be fun, but it should never be used to cheat other artists.”
“That’s ridiculous,” another wrote to the Colorado State Fair’s tweet. “Makes your whole art competition less prestigious to the point where it’s laughable.”
“This is the literal definition of ‘pressed a few buttons to make a digital art piece’,” a user tweeted. “AI artwork is the ‘banana taped to the wall’ of the digital world now.”
Meanwhile, Jason M. Allen remains unfazed by the reception, saying:
“I’m not going to apologize for it… I won and I didn’t break any rules.”
Despite his win, Allen agrees with the sentiments of others that AI-generated art ought to be placed in a separate category moving forward.
“I’m okay with that, there’s no problem with that,” said Allen. “But someone had to be first.”
Opinions expressed by NY Weekly contributors are their own.