Finbar McHugh Triumphs Over AI in an Epic Art Battle at PorterShed’s GenAI Hackathon

Human Artist Triumphs Over AI in an Epic Art Battle at PorterShed’s GenAI Hackathon

Galway, Ireland – Last weekend, PorterShed was abuzz with innovation and creativity as it hosted the inaugural GenAI Hackathon. Over 50 participants from across Ireland, including Cork and Kerry, gathered to showcase their ideas and technological prowess. Among the highlights was an artistic showdown between Galway-based artist Finbar McHugh and the AI platform, Midjourney.

This unique challenge took place on the rooftop of PorterShed, providing an inspiring backdrop with natural light and open air. Both Finbar McHugh and Midjourney were given the same prompt: “Create a piece of art in an abstract expressionist style that addresses environmental issues such as waste, water pollution, and monitoring water and air quality.” They had one hour to complete their artwork.

Finbar McHugh, renowned for his evocative and thought-provoking pieces, approached the challenge with a profound understanding of environmental themes. During the reveal, he explained his use of colour: shades of blue symbolised water purity, dark tones represented pollution, greens and browns depicted the earth scarred by waste, and airy swirls of grey and white illustrated the struggles of monitoring air quality. His piece was a narrative of environmental disruption and a call to action.

Midjourney, leveraging advanced algorithms and a vast database of artistic styles, created a bold and intricate piece that captured the abstract expressionist style with precision. The AI-generated artwork used striking colours and forms to evoke a sense of urgency about environmental issues, demonstrating how AI can interpret complex themes and translate them into visual art.

As the hour concluded, attendees eagerly gathered to view the two pieces side by side. The atmosphere was electric with anticipation. Both artworks were impressive and unique. However, when it came time to vote, Finbar McHugh’s piece was chosen as the favourite.

The GenAI Hackathon was more than a competition; it was a celebration of human ingenuity and the potential of AI. Finbar McHugh’s victory underscored the irreplaceable essence of human creativity, while the impressive output from Midjourney highlighted the promising future of AI in art. This event showcased the remarkable synergy between human talent and artificial intelligence, proving that while AI can enhance the creative process, the soul and emotion behind a piece of art remain uniquely human.

Photo by Anthony Shaughnessy

Thank you to our sponsors: Rent The Runway, Vhi, Genesys, Founders (NDRC and Dogpatch Labs), and the SPECTRA project, Stimulating Performance in Creative Territories and Regional Actors, supported by the European Union.

For more information about the GenAI Hackathon and upcoming events, please contact:

About PorterShed

PorterShed is a collaborative space dedicated to fostering innovation and creativity in Galway. By hosting events like the GenAI Hackathon, PorterShed aims to bring together the brightest minds in technology and the arts to push the boundaries of what’s possible

Contact Finbar McHugh


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