Bella Hadid, DALL-E 2, and the Strange Beauty of Vogue Italia’s May 2023 Cover Story – Design You Trust

Bella Hadid, DALL-E 2, and the Strange Beauty of Vogue Italia’s May 2023 Cover Story

Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

AI art has been making waves in the art world for some time, but it’s not until it graces the cover of a major fashion magazine that it truly reaches the mainstream. That’s what happened with Vogue Italia’s May 2023 edition, which featured a cover story that blended real models, photographers, and stylists with AI-generated imagery from DALL-E 2.

More: Vogue Italy, Instagram h/t: creativebloq

Prompt – “Model reclining on a giant vintage computer typing on a keyboard”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

At first glance, the concept seemed intriguing: can AI art coexist with traditional creative processes and enhance them? Can it offer new perspectives and possibilities for fashion photography? However, as soon as the images were released online, they sparked controversy and criticism, especially one that showed a model with a distorted face merging into a peacock-like creature. Some commentators called it “creepy,” “unsettling,” and “dehumanizing.”

Prompt – “Miniature city taken at night in Madurodam”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

So, what went wrong? Did Vogue Italia underestimate the reaction to an AI-based cover story, or did they misjudge the aesthetic and ethical implications of using AI art in fashion? Did they communicate the process and purpose of the project clearly enough to their audience, or did they play into the hype and sensationalism around AI art? These are some of the questions that arise from the Vogue Italia AI art cover controversy.

Prompt – “Hotel room shot on film in an Art Deco hotel with a low angle bed and peacocks”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

On the one hand, one could argue that the backlash is a sign that AI art has entered a new phase of public awareness and scrutiny, where its potential benefits and risks are being debated more widely. It shows that people care about the role of technology in art and culture, and that they demand transparency, diversity, and responsibility from those who use it. It also shows that AI art is not immune to bias, error, or unintended consequences, and that it requires ethical and aesthetic guidelines to be developed and applied.

Prompt – “Large green inflatable ball in a gallery shot on film”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

On the other hand, one could argue that the Vogue Italia AI art cover story missed the mark by not fully acknowledging or addressing these issues. It treated AI art as a novelty or a gimmick, rather than a serious artistic and technological endeavor. It focused more on the process of creating the images than on the meaning or impact of them. It did not involve any AI artists or experts in the project, but only used DALL-E 2, which is a proprietary software developed by OpenAI for research purposes, not commercial use.

Prompt – “Model standing at the North Pole with huge white tigers”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

Given these factors, it’s not surprising that some people reacted negatively to the Vogue Italia AI art cover story. However, it’s also important to note that some people found it intriguing, innovative, and beautiful. They appreciated the interplay between human and artificial creativity, and the way AI art can challenge our perceptions and expectations of what is possible and desirable in fashion photography. They saw it as a sign of the times, where technology and art are converging and creating new forms of expression and communication.

Prompt – “A big strawberry behind a model and people in striped dresses”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

Therefore, instead of dismissing or defending the Vogue Italia AI art cover story, we should engage with it critically and constructively. We should ask ourselves and others what we think about AI art, why we think so, and what implications it has for our society and culture. We should explore the ethical and aesthetic dimensions of AI art, and how they relate to our values and goals. We should celebrate the diversity and ingenuity of AI art, and support the efforts of those who are trying to make it more accessible and inclusive.

Prompt – “Model wearing a large John Galliano couture hat with flowers and fruit, and a Renaissance-style face on top”
Carlijn Jacobs/Vogue

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