Thursday, March 7, 2024

The "phony" in Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s ad

From The Guardian.

A ‘poorly considered’ use of AI has resulted in a perplexing number of fingers – and a large amount of mockery.

The couple’s tangled fingers are both too large and too many; there’s a strange sheen making them look more like wax dolls; and then there’s the clothes: she in a tulle gown encrusted with jewels, he in a tuxedo – and, simultaneously, a tulle gown encrusted with jewels. 

Also: she has a large cube on her lap.

It was apparently created by someone who has never seen an orchestra play, and imagines it as rows of violinists seated in the audience, many playing with three hands or one hand or no hands at all.

The picture, shared by the QSO on 22 February, appears to be sourced from stock image aggregator Shutterstock, where it is listed under the AI prompt “two people having a date at a indoor classical music romantic concert”.

On Tuesday, industry union the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) called it “the worst AI generated artwork we’ve seen”.

“It is inappropriate, unprofessional and disrespectful to audiences and the musicians of the QSO,” they added. 

“Creative workers and audiences deserve better from arts organisations.”

The post also attracted criticism in its replies. “Next time pay photographers,” one comment reads. Another called it “terrible – literally an arts organisation not using artists.”

Classical music industry blog Slipped Disc was the first to report on the ad, claiming it had resulted in “uproar” and “fury” among the orchestra’s players.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra did not comment on that claim but justified their use of the AI image in a statement to Guardian Australia: 
“At QSO, we encourage exploration, innovation, experimentation and the adoption of new technologies across all facets of the business. From time to time we will use new marketing tools and techniques as we are an orchestra for all Queenslanders.”

AI-generated imagery has stirred much debate and outrage since its rise in recent years due to the accessibility of consumer tools such as Dall-E and Midjourney. 

Much of the controversy revolves around AI’s potential to devalue or plagiarise human artists.

In the past 18 months, at least two art prizes have made headlines after their winners were found to have generated or altered their works with AI. 

“I’m not going to apologise for it,” said Jason M Allen, who took home an award for digital artists at the Colorado State Fair in 2022. 

“Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” submitted by Jason Allen

“I won, and I didn’t break any rules.”

In 2023, German artist Boris Eldagsen won a prize at the Sony world photography awards for an AI-generated photograph of two women in black and white. 

He later admitted he had “applied as a cheeky monkey” in order to incite discourse around the ethics of AI – and refused to accept the award.

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