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  • Writer's picturekyle Hailey

AI ART Wins over Human Art

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

On August 25, 2022, Jason M Allen announced on Discord that his AI generated image, "Théâtre D'opéra Spatial" , won first place in the emerging artist division's "digital arts/digitally-manipulated photography" category at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition.

(Courtesy: Jason M Allen )

Allen's contest entry was far from what the general public imagined. When imaging AI art, the general public conjures up the image of an average person typing in few words and having a computer spit out random image in a few seconds that is the exploitative regurgitation of a well known artists. Unlike that general trope, James Allen spent over 80 hours going over 900 iterations to hone in on the result he was looking for, and the spectacular results are something that existed no where before and with out his artistic shepherding would never exist for the world to enjoy.

“Let’s look at the winning painting. Jason Allen put in three pieces. Théâtre D’opéra Spatial is actually a mesmerizing work. What it reminds me of is the paintings of symbolist artist Gustave Moreau, who in fact had quite a considerable influence on the Impressionists. It’s part Game of Thrones, part Star Wars and part sort of a faux medieval tableau. And also if you look at the coloring, there are echoes and indeed the artist mentions this, that the city was inspired by Leonardo. So this is a thing of beauty.”

Within days twitter exploded declaring the win a travesty:

The incident sparked articles such as

Which had as the the very first comment

If you're calling yourself an artist after AI-generating some images and skipping the line of people who've spent their life honing their craft, you deserve to be smacked

expressing clearly the popular backlash agains AI art and begging the question of what is an artist?

Does art require that the artists use some techniques or tools in order for their art to be called art? What do we say about Rodin who did not cast any of his sculptures nor did he sculpt most his marble pieces. Is Rodin not an artist? How about Chihuly who has not blown his own glass since the early 80s. Rembrandt and Warhol paid others to do their work. Is it the tools that make the artist or the vision ?

What is art when people call a banana taped to wall , art

Someone who never breaks out a paintbrush can still be a genius artist — a concept that started with the daddy of Dada, Marcel Duchamp, in the early 1900s when he placed a urinal in an art gallery and called it Fountain.

It would seem that what defines art is the artists who calls the piece art and not what tools or techniques that were used.

Revolutionary techniques like AI imaging are just tools, like photography was just a tool.

in the 19th century, the most brilliant minds alive said the camera is going to end art. Of course, it didn't end art, it extended human beings.

-- Jerry Salz , senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine

In summary:

Fitzwilliams went on to say that he thinks the problem is the shock. But, once artists get over that they’ll be able to adjust. “There is a human input needed into this. Jason Allen said that he put some 80 hours into it. So that is, I think very important to stress. When there are new movements in art, one could choose either the Impressionists or the Cubists or the surrealists, it always disturbs and shocks a few people. Sometimes a very large number of people! It is one of art’s purposes.”

Articles on AI winning art competition:

Allen said he has also been getting a lot of hate mail and messages on his company’s Instagram page.

Allen said that his critics are judging the art by the method of its creation, and that eventually the art world will recognize AI-created art as its own category. “What if we looked at it from the other extreme, what if an artist made a wildly difficult and complicated series of restraints in order to create a piece, say, they made their art while hanging upside-down and being whipped while painting,” he said. “Should this artist’s work be evaluated differently than another artist that created the same piece ‘normally’? I know what will become of this in the end, they are simply going to create an ‘artificial intelligence art’ category I imagine for things like this.”

"Art is dead Dude", Jason M Allen told the New York Times.

"This is a Star Trek Holodeck moment" he says.

Artists have always learned from and been influenced by others - "great artists steal" as the saying goes - but Mr Palmer says of AI is not just like finding inspiration in the work of other artists: "This is directly stealing their essence in a way".

First of all, never think that [AI] is or isn't art. It's a tool. It's a tool like a pencil, a camera.

Don't forget, in the 19th century, the most brilliant minds alive said the camera is going to end art. Of course, it didn't end art, it extended human beings. ...

I want you to ask, is it good art or bad art?

-- Jerry Salz , senior art critic and columnist for New York magazine

While Allen relied on AI from Midjourney to develop his piece, other artists may have used a tool like Photoshop —which features plenty of AI tools in its toolbox for image editing.
Nick R. .... Rodin ... didn’t actually physically produce any of his bronze work or most of his marble,
NoWaitComeBack Renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly has not blown his own glass since the early 80s. ... . He’s been described as “more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor”.
Golden Ballfield [AI is] a tool, just like photoshop or anything else, right? I mean we’re talking about an industry that pays millions for crap like a banana taped to a wall or trees wrapped in plastic.
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