'With over 26,000 followers and growing, Jos Avery's Instagram account has a
trick up its sleeve. While it may appear to showcase stunning photo portraits
of people, they are not actually people at all. Avery has been posting
AI-generated portraits for the past few months, and as more fans praise his
apparently masterful photography skills, he has grown nervous about telling the
"[My Instagram account] has blown up to nearly 12K followers since October,
more than I expected," wrote Avery when he first reached out to Ars Technica in
January. "Because it is where I post AI-generated, human-finished portraits.
Probably 95%+ of the followers don't realize. I'd like to come clean."
Avery emphasizes that while his images are not actual photographs (except two,
he says), they still require a great deal of artistry and retouching on his
part to pass as photorealistic. To create them, Avery initially uses
Midjourney, an AI-powered image synthesis tool. He then combines and retouches
the best images using Photoshop.
With Midjourney, anyone can pay a subscription fee for the privilege of
generating art from text-based descriptions, called "prompts." Midjourney's
creators taught the AI model how to synthesize images by showing it millions of
examples of art from other artists. It can generate stunning photorealistic
images that can fool some people into thinking they're real photos, especially
if retouched later.
Originally an AI skeptic, Avery has become a convert to the new art form. Such
work attracts great controversy in the art world, partly due to ethical issues
around scraping human-made artwork without consent. But thanks to that artistic
knowledge built into the model, some of the most skilled AI-augmented
practitioners can render imagery far more vividly than if a human were working
"I am honestly conflicted," Avery said when he approached Ars to tell his
story. "My original aim was to fool people to showcase AI and then write an
article about it. But now it has become an artistic outlet. My views have
Via Kenny Chaffin.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics