Intimate black and white portraits that tell stories of anonymous people: Bruce, the old man who wanders alone through the city, Sarah, the 16-year-old girl who escapes through the window to go dancing, Natasha, a Ukrainian refugee living in the United States . That’s how Jos Avery gained over 30,000 followers on Instagram. But the photos are, after all, portraits generated using artificial intelligence.
Since last October, the number of followers of the artist “exploded”, but “probably more than 95%” of them did not realize that the images did not portray real people, he said avery The Ars Technica. Also because when asked, Jos Avery was vague about how he created the images, having even said that he used a Nikon D810 to capture the portraits. “I’d like to set the record straight,” he finally said.
He then confessed to the same magazine that he used Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that generates portraits based on descriptions and then retouches them in Photoshop. Midjourney synthesizes images using millions of examples of works of art by different artists.
“I am honestly conflicted within myself. My main goal was to trick people with artificial intelligence and later write an article about it. But now it has become a work of art. My vision has changed”, he said, quoted in the same text.
Avery also defended herself by pointing out that when “people wear makeup in photos” they don’t reveal it either. “All publications with fashion photographs have a heavy dose of Photoshop, including replacing bodies on magazine covers,” she shot.
About the process of creating the images, Avery explained that he generates thousands of images with Midjourney and then combines the best parts of multiple images. When he spoke to Ars Technica he had 160 posts on Instagram (currently 180) — and he says he generated 13723 images. “It’s a huge effort to use AI-generated elements and create something that looks like it was captured by a photographer. The creative process is still in the hands of the artist or photographer, not the computer.”
Jos Avery now has a reference to artificial intelligence in his Instagram account bio and has included the “fictional” disclaimer in the descriptions of the photographs. But some followers continue to feel cheated: “Good job. But scrolling through your posts makes it look like you’re purposefully misleading people from the start. You should at least show hashtags, that these images are generated using artificial intelligence”, commented a follower. “Why do you use (or steal) the photographic work of others without giving them credit? At least he does things right,” wrote another.