Not an Art Nouveau house in Bucharest

This photo went viral online, supposedly showing a magnificent Art Nouveau building in Bucharest.

The picture is wonderful, this mysterious villa is a superb example of Art Nouveau architecture and yes, I too would love to visit it.

But it doesn’t exist.

It was created by an artist using artificial intelligence software called Midjourney.
By giving this tool several keywords and commands it will create an image for you.
It is very popular and the creations made with it are flooding the internet.

Sometimes the results are silly or weird, but they can also look amazing and very convincing.
Which of course makes my job as a Fake History Hunter a bit more difficult!

If you want to spread misinformation AI can help you with that, but in this case that was not the creator’s intention.

The picture was made by Thierry Lechanteur, an artist from Belgium who combines traditional photography with digital manipulation.
People have of course been altering photos since photography has existed, but thanks to Photoshop and AI there are now a lot of new and impressive options available not just to experienced creators, but also to the general public.

This artist tries to bring a dream world to life and has embraced AI as a new tool but is always honest and upfront about using it.

When he shares his creations he mentions how they were made, he doesn’t pretend the buildings and cityscapes he made are real.

Currently he’s even working on a special exhibit about Art Nouveau where he hopes visitors will start to think about the advantages but also dangers of using AI for art.

But of course someone saw his picture, shared it online and “forgot” to mention that the house was not real, that it was an AI creation.
That is how the story started to spread.

It is ironic that the artist who is working on an exhibit about how controversial AI art is, had one of his works go viral for all the wrong reasons.

Of course the real problem here are the people on social media who don’t care, who just steal the picture from somewhere (often Reddit), share it and rake in the likes & shares.

And architecture is an easy target, many people are bored with modern architecture and the concrete jungles our cities have become.
They long for the romantic old architecture, the magical villas, the richly decorated houses, they prefer the buildings of the past, even if sometimes this past never really existed.

There’s nothing wrong with AI art, besides the ongoing ethical debates about if it’s okay for AI to use art made by others to create something new and it taking work away from artists, but anyone should be free to create their fantasy images with AI.
But I don’t understand why people feel the need to pretend it’s real, just share it as AI, the building won’t be any less gorgeous because of it.

Sources & references:

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Disclaimer;
Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to these images, I only share them here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.
If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall alter the article.
If you’re interested in using any of the images here get in touch with the copyright owners mentioned in the article.
Feel free to contact me with questions.


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