Defending AI Artwork

by Genevieve Mayle ‘23

Jason M. Allen’s “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” an artificial intelligence (AI) generated art piece, won first place in the Colorado State Fair’s annual digital art competition, sparking outrage from artists who claimed he cheated. Digital artists primarily create art using programs such as Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint. The applications of these programs and AI art generators are fundamentally different, and should be treated as distinct art forms. Thus, Allen’s creation should not have been judged as a digital art piece or earned first place in that art category. However, Allen’s work shouldn’t be prohibited from the competition solely based on the notion that it isn’t considered art at all.

The public release of newly developed text-to-imagegenerators ignited a debate over whether AI art is truly art. While there is no universally accepted definition of art, there are common elements that people consider when developing their own. According to the Oxford Dictionary, art includes “human creative skill and imagination.” Writing a text that accurately conveys a person’s desires to an AI art generator via keywords is arguably a learned skill. Furthermore, imagination is required to create a pleasing concept for what AI must generate. In essence, AI-generated works deserve to be considered an art form because they meet the broad criteria for what constitutes art.