AI-Generated Art Wins Contest and Stirs Controversy Online

ODSC - Open Data Science
3 min readSep 15, 2022

Fears of artificial intelligence taking jobs from human beings have been a growing concern as AI has been implemented in more and more industries. One place many haven’t thought of is the world of art. But that seems to be changing as a Colorado man, video game designer and artist Jason Allen, used an AI-art tool called “Midjourney” to create an award-winning art piece for the Colorado State Fair.

Created by an independent research lab, the purpose of the AI art tool — according to its creators — is to explore “new mediums of thought and expanding the imaginative powers of the human species,” similar in nature to other AI programs that utilize text depictions to create unique images, DALL-E and ROBOMOJO. For his piece, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” Jason Allen won first place in the category of digital arts/digitally manipulated photography. Within the content, there were eighteen other entries all competing for a $300 prize.

Held for the last 150 years, the state fair is held every summer in Pueblo, Colorado. According to submission guidelines, they don’t mention AI-generated art, but the category that Allen entered, digital arts/ digitally-manipulated photography, is defined digital arts as “digital arts/ digitally-manipulated photography” according to the paper Chieftain.

But, Jason’s win didn’t come without a bit of controversy. Many on social media aired their disapproval of using the AI-art tool Midjourney, as a means to produce work for competition, with many calling the entity unfair, not art, and claiming that Jason Allen is taking credit while Midjourney did the lion’s share of the work.

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For his part, Allen wasn’t backing down. In a post on Discord, he admitted that the entry would cause a stir, “I knew this would be controversial.” Then he turned his attention to Twitter users who were criticizing the artist for his work, “How interesting is it to see how all these people on Twitter who are against AI-generated art are the first ones to throw the human under the bus by discrediting the human element! Does this seem hypocritical to you guys?”

As artificial intelligence continues to go mainstream and is used more and more in a variety of industries, it’s clear that society will have to contend with the technology and how its enhancements of the human user should be treated depending on the circumstances.

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