The Colorado State Fair is a highly anticipated event in Colorado, this year it took place from August 26 to September 5. On August 29th, the award for the Digital Arts/Digitally Manipulated Photography category was given to Jason Allen for “Space Opera Theater”, a work made with the generative AI Midjourney. The announcement of the award immediately raised many controversies from Internet users, including artists.
The generation of images with Text-To-Image models like Stable Diffusion, Dall-E, Imagen or Midjourney is a given. If the awarding of this prize to Jason Allen has raised so much controversy, it is not so much about the intellectual property of his work, but because his detractors believe that there is no creative process on the part of the author of a work generated by AI. The rules of the category where Jason Allen had entered three of his works stipulate that the works presented must use ” digital technology as part of the creative process or presentation” but for them, the AI has done everything, some even evoke the death of art …
The use of Midjourney
When he entered the competition, Jason Alley mentioned that the works he presented had been created with Midjourney, which did not seem to pose any problems. The other candidates had used software such as Photoshop and Illustrator to create digital artworks, when he announced that he had won the 1st prize on twitter thanks to this process, the reactions were quick.
He then explained his approach and his work. If he didn’t paint or retouch himself the 3 presented paintings, it took him more than 80 hours to find the right prompts to generate images mixing Victorian style costumes with astronauts suits, with the lighting and the colors he wanted. In total, the AI generated 900 images, and he selected three that he retouched with Photoshop, improved their definition with Gigapixel AI before printing them on canvas.
An assumed use of AI
Among the criticisms, he was told that typing keywords into an app did not make him a real artist, to which he retorted:
“I knew it would be controversial. How interesting that all these people on Twitter who criticize AI-generated art are the first to discredit the human factor!”
“Rather than hating a technology or the people behind it, we need to recognize that it is a powerful tool and use it to move forward rather than sulk.”
Cal Duran, an art professor and one of the judges of the competition, said that while he didn’t realize that “Space Opera Theater” was generated by an AI when he evaluated it, he didn’t regret awarding it first place at all.