This year, the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition gave out prizes in all the usual categories: painting, quilting and sculpture. But one entrant, Jason M. Allen of Pueblo West, Colorado, didn’t make his entry with a brush or a lump of clay. He created it with Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that turns lines of text into hyper-realistic graphics. Mr. Allen’s work, “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” took home the blue ribbon in the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists — making it one of the first A.I.-generated pieces to win such a prize, and setting off a fierce backlash from artists who accused him of, essentially, cheating.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Mr. Allen defended his work. He said that he had made clear that his work — which was submitted under the name “Jason M. Allen via Midjourney” — was created using A.I., and that he hadn’t deceived anyone about its origins.
“I’m not going to apologize for it,” he said. “I won, and I didn’t break any rules.” A.I.-generated art has been around for years and is here to stay. But tools released this year — with names like DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion — have made it ultimately possible for rank amateurs to create complex, abstract or photorealistic works simply by typing a few words into a text box.
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