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Artist causes controversy after winning contest with AI-generated artwork

"Regardless of what many have to say about my accomplishment, I am proud I was able to bring my vision into reality and share it with the world."

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The winning picture Théâtre Dopéra Spatial (Space Opera Theater). (Jason M. Allen via SWNS).

By Dean Murray via SWNS

An artist has caused controversy after winning a competition by secretly entering a piece generated using artificial intelligence.

Jason M. Allen scooped first prize in the digital art category at Colorado State Fair's Fine Arts competition.

The 39-year-old, the CEO of a tabletop fantasy game company, decided to enter his Théâtre D’opéra Spatial (Space Opera Theater) creations and was "pleasantly surprised" to have his work chosen.

The decision has caused upset among those who believe art should not be created using AI.

"I am the president and CEO of Incarnate Games, Inc. My job also consists as lead game designer and art director," said Jason, who lives in Pueblo West, Colorado.

"I had visions of women in Victorian style dresses wearing space helmets, the idea of Space Opera Theater evolved from that.

"I authored a very descriptive vision of what I imagined in my mind's eye into what is called a prompt that I input to an artificial intelligence art generator tool called Midjourney.

"I made over 900 iterations of the image and the prompts until I chose my top three images.

One of three A.I. pictures called Théâtre Dopéra Spatial (Space Opera Theater). (Jason M. Allen via SWNS)
« of 3 »

"The top three images then go into photoshop where I digitally manipulate the image until I was satisfied with the result, including cleaning up the image and some painting over it, then I upscale it using Gigapixel A.I. to be able to print it on canvas.

"I was pleasantly surprised and excited to win the competition! Regardless of what many have to say about my accomplishment, I am proud I was able to bring my vision into reality and share it with the world.

"I am not revealing the full story behind Space Opera Theater yet as it is still under development as a larger body of work, but I hope to release that by the end of the year."

One online commentator wrote: "Paintings are to be painted, not described to a computer. It might be digital art, but the person who won didn't paint it. This new technology should bring the discernation (sic) between digital paintings and AI composed images, which are very different things."

Another posted: "We’re watching the death of artistry unfold right before our eyes — if creative jobs aren’t safe from machines, then even high-skilled jobs are in danger of becoming obsolete. What will we have then?"

The Colorado State Fair said: "The digital art category at the Fine Arts competition has people talking! At the Colorado State Fair, we think this brings up a great conversation. With advancing technology, the discussion of AI and art helps the Fair evolve from year to year."

Jason stands by his decision to enter the contest and insists he will enter more.

"Art is bringing vision into form. When you do this and the result creates a response from the audience, you have created art. Art takes many forms, and this is one of them," he said.

"With that being said, if anyone still feels that what I have created is not art, perhaps they should search their soul for what the meaning of art truly is for themselves."

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