Vice reports Jason Allen took out the top prize, which included US$300 (AUD $438 or £258) for his piece that is titled ‘Théâtre D'opéra Spatial’.
He generated the near-perfect renaissance inspired art through an AI-powered program.
While the image is stunning, one fiery artist took to Twitter to express their outrage.
They wrote: “Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize. Yeah that's pretty fucking s****y.”
TL;DR — Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize.— Genel Jumalon ✈️ Nan Desu Kan (@GenelJumalon) August 30, 2022
Yeah that's pretty fucking shitty. pic.twitter.com/vjn1IdJcsL
Many users agreed as one person wrote: “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?”
Another said: “It's not art because it's not made by a human.”
While another commented: “Jeez… Are artists gonna have to start ‘showing their work’ like it’s a f**king math class?”
Allen used a program called Midjourney, which is an ‘independent research lab dedicated to advancing the creative capacities of people by examining new thought mediums’.
Rather than painting by hand, Midjourney uses textual descriptions or algorithms to create images.
While Allen's win angered the artist community, he's since defended his work on the Midjourney Discord server.
Today we're starting to test our V3 image generation algorithms. Come by our Discord to play with them. 128 pics below from 2 new beautiful settings. pic.twitter.com/oRuiazMKP4— Midjourney (@midjourney) July 25, 2022
“I knew this would be controversial,” he wrote. “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?”
While art has never shied away from controversy, an artist (who remains anonymous) spoke to Kotaku about the concerns of AI art becoming increasingly more popular, as it undermines the skills of an artist.
He said: “The endgame of a potential employer is not to make my job easier, it’s to replace me, or to reduce all my years spent honing my craft into a boring-a** machine learning pilot, where I’m trained to vaguely direct an equivalent software in hundreds of different directions until by chance it spits out an asset we could feasibly use in a game”.
Digital artist RJ Palmer, who has worked for Ubisoft and the film Detective Pikachu, also told the outlet that AI art threatens the employment of emerging artists.
He said: “I could easily envision a scenario where using AI a single artist or art director could take the place of 5-10 entry level artists. The tech is fairly basic (but still impressive) right now but it’s advancing so fast.
“The unfortunate reality of this industry is that speed is favoured over quality so often that a cleaned up, ‘good enough’ AI-generated image could suffice for a lot of needs.”