The machine that makes the art

He won a prize for his AI-generated, neo-Renaissance print. Or was he just ushering in "the death of artistry ... right before our eyes?"

The machine that makes the art
“Théâtre D’opéra Spatial." (Courtesy of Jason Allen)

Full story: He used AI to win a fine-arts competition. Was it cheating?

When Jason Allen submitted his “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” into the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition last week, the sumptuous print was an immediate hit, beating 20 other artists in the “digitally manipulated photography” category to win the first-place blue ribbon and a $300 prize.

What Allen had only hinted at, however, was that the artwork had been created in large part by an artificial-intelligence tool, Midjourney, that can generate realistic images at a user’s command. The portrait of three figures, dressed in flowing robes, staring out to a bright beyond, was so finely detailed the judges couldn’t tell. ...

One of the judges, Dagny McKinley, an author and art historian who runs a playwright festival in nearby Steamboat Springs, remembers walking past Allen’s canvas and being immediately drawn to a piece that felt reminiscent of Renaissance art.

“It had an immediate story: People looking out into another world, everyone with their backs to you, no one facing or engaging with the viewers,” she said. “You get interested: What are they seeing?”

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