The Chicago Journal

An AI-generated piece from Midjourney sparks the wrath of the art community after winning an art competition

While AI has been of great use in multiple industries, it became a source of controversy when a man won an AI-generated image in an art contest.

Jason M. Allen, 39, was the winner when he submitted an image that won the digital art/digitally manipulated photography category at the Colorado State Fair last week.

The work submitted

According to CNN, Allen was nervous about participating, but his decision earned him the win and the $ 300 prize.

The picture “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” which translates to Space Opera Theater, shows a scene seemingly taken from a science fiction fantasy concept and shows women in Victorian dress looking into a portal.

Jason M. Allen

Jason M. Allen, the man who sent the AI-generated image, is the founder and lead developer of the board game company Incarnate Games.

Based in Pueblo West, Colorado, Allen decided to take the opportunity of the competition.

“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 delighted to win first prize on his first attempt at a competition, it turned out that he was using Midjourney.

Midjourney is a Discord-based AI art generator that has been making the rounds online recently.

It’s one of many AI image generators, like Google Research’s Imagen and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2.

The process

Although Allen didn’t go through the same processes as most artists, he said the image didn’t come easily.

He said there was a lot of work to be done.

Jason M. Allen said it took 80 hours to complete the job, playing with the phrases to create images of women wearing Victorian dresses and space helmets.

Allen developed over 900 iterations of the images sent by the women before disinfecting them in Photoshop.

He then ran the images through Gigapixel AI to improve the resolution and then printed the piece on canvas.

Reaction to the win

Allen’s use of AI to complete the work sparked outrage over the price, with many saying it took away the hard work people put into creating physically real works of art.

“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 unmoved at the front desk, saying:

“I’m not going to apologize for it… I won and I didn’t break any rules.”

Despite his victory, Allen agrees with others that AI-generated art should be placed in a separate category in the future.

“I’m okay with that, there’s no problem with that,” said Allen. “But someone had to be first.”


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