Vermeer 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' AI facsimile causes controversy

Occurred: February 2023

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An AI-generated artwork acting as a substitute for Vermeer's famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis Museum in the The Hague, Netherlands, has caused controversy amongst the art fraternity and beyond. 

Julian van Dieken's interpretation of Vermeer's masterpiece was one of five of almost 3,500 entries chosen to be displayed that had been submitted to a competition organised by the museum to replace it when it is on loan at the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Generated using Midjourney and Photoshop, Van Dieken's A Girl with Glowing Earrings was greeted with howls of protest, with some people accusing the museum of abdicating ethical decision-making. 

Others highlighted what they consider to be the damaging effects AI systems such as Midjourney are having on artists and the creative professions in general, and whether their outputs infringe copyright law.

A number lamented what they saw as the limited creativity of the artist.

Operator: Mauritshuis Museum
Developer: Julian van Dieken
Country: Netherlands
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Generate artwork
Technology: Text-to-image; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Ethics; Employment; Copyright