In August 2022, an American video game designer won first prize at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition, for a work generated by Artificial Intelligence. Predictably, his win went viral. “AI won an art contest, and artists are furious,” wrote CNN, on September 3. In an editorial published on September 4, a New York Magazine photo editor asked, “Will DALL·E the AI artist take my job?” It's a valid question, and there are obvious ethical issues at play. But here's what I know for sure: art's not dead.
As a photographer, I find it fascinating to see how
text-to-image models such as DALL·E 2 and Stable Diffusion recreate and reinterpret photographic processes and aesthetics. My
first project using AI, Still Life, playfully challenges
the photographic canon. Even as born-digital works, these images mimic
the materiality of analogue photographs, from Polaroids to tintypes and
cyanotypes. As an information worker and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) professional, I recognize the existential threat that AI poses to the historical record. But as an artist, I've found this practice invigorating. Is it art? The same question has been asked of photography. For me, it's another way of image-making, and that answer itself is good enough.