An AI-generated picture won an art prize. Artists aren't happy

New tools such as DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, which are able to create complex, abstract or photorealistic works simply by typing a few words into a text box, have created a stir.

Jason Allen's AI-generated work, Théâtre D'opéra Spatial, took first place in the digital category at the Colorado State Fair. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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This year, the Colorado State Fair's annual art competition gave out prizes in all the usual categories: painting, quilting, sculpture. But one entrant, Jason 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.

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 AI-generated pieces to win such a prize and setting off a fierce backlash from artists who accused him of, essentially, cheating.

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