6 Mar 2024

MEAA calls out QSO on AI

by Jason Allen

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra have set off quite the controversy in both media and the arts by using an extremely shonky AI generated image in their marketing, annoying their musicians, patrons, and photographers in general.

The Media Enetrtianment and Arts Alliance posted the image to their Instagram account on Tuesday 5 March, stating that “This is some of the worst AI generated artwork we’ve seen, but even worse is that it comes from an arts organisation like the Queensland Symphony Orchestra that should be paying artists, not using AI. It is inappropriate, unprofessional and disrespectful to audiences and the musicians of the QSO. Creative workers and audiences deserve better from arts organisations.”

The image originally came to light on a website dedicated to classical music, Slipped Disc, on February 24. They reported that “Our informant spoke to musicians last night after an outstanding Mahler 7th symphony with chief conductor Umberto Clerici. The players were furious. When they raised concerns with the new Marketing Director, they were told to ‘stay in their lane’ and it’s ‘no one else’s job to market’. One of the QSO patrons has posted: ‘What is this disgusting AI image that you are using to advertise? Do you not support actual artists?’ “


The story was then picked up by photography website who lambasted the practice and the image, stating “The image shows a young couple apparently on a romantic date at the symphony orchestra. The longer you look at the image, the more horrific it gets. The woman’s left arm looks like a mannequin’s, and there are altogether far too many hands and fingers involved. The man seems to have part of the woman’s dress detached and lying across his lap. There is an odd black box in front of them. And now my favourite part: the couple is surrounded by the orchestra who are seated around them in the stalls. I think most people would expect the orchestra to be on the stage and not clustered around the auditorium. And then there are the weird cloned faces of the musicians, and let’s not even get started on how they are holding the instruments.”

Let this be a lesson to anyone who is using AI – be careful, check the results, and read the room!


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