Last August, an image generated via artificial intelligence took the Colorado State Fair annual art competition prize for digital art/digitally manipulated photography. The entrant, Jason M. Allen, created the piece using a digital image creation program dubbed Midjourney. Similar to tools like DALL-E2 and Stable Diffusion, Midjourney allows users to enter descriptive text that will, with the help of AI, generate art—though not everyone agrees it should be called that.
The prize’s announcement prompted discussions and generated some backlash from artists and critics, some of whom posed a question: Did Allen cheat by using AI to create his piece, titled Théâtre D’opéra Spatial? The prize also reignited the heated debate about whether machines will lead to the demise of visual art, a form of expression often considered—at least heretofore—as a high and singularly human achievement.