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.

Grid of three images generated by DALLE2 and Stable Diffusion. One image resembles 19th century astrophotography, while the other two look like Polaroids made by Cy Twombly.

Three images created with Stable Diffusion.

An AI-generated image in the style of an abstract Polaroid photograph.

An image made with Stable Diffusion. 

Grid of three images generated by AI. They resemble street style, fashion or paparazzi photographs taken at night.

Three images made with Microsoft Bing's AI Image Creator.

A single image generated by AI. It resembles a paparazzi photo taken at night, of an overexposed, flash-lit figure walking in an urban environment.

An image made with Microsoft Bing's AI Image Creator.

A single, square image resembling a colour Polaroid. It appears to depict a structure in a barren landscape.

An image made with Stable Diffusion.

Grid of three images made by AI. Two resemble still life photographs of fruit, while the other looks like a portrait photograph made by Irving Penn.

Three images made with Stable Diffusion.

Using Format