If you took a moment to glance through Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok over the long weekend, you probably noticed that a lot of your friends and the celebrities you follow have changed their profile pictures to artistic fantasy portrait selfies in which your cousin or workaholic coworker appears as ethereal fairies, elves, warriors, astronauts, superheroes, and manga-style characters. They didn’t all overnight master the art of illustration or digital creation, but rather, like Taraji P. Henson, Tommy Dorfman, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, they simply used Lensa AI, an iOS and Android app that uses artificial intelligence to process selfies and photos to produce avatars that resemble those of professional illustrators.The outcome is so captivating that, according to early projections from analytics company Sensor Tower, more than four million individuals downloaded the app globally in the first five days of December and spent more than $8 million on Lensa AI during that time.
Its nature and mechanism
The popular image-editing app, created by Prisma Labs, was first released in 2018, but it has gained a lot of popularity recently as a result of significant improvements in artificial intelligence, including the “Magic avatar” feature and various tools like Face Retouch and Magic Correction that “refine facial imperfections” and help create reworked images that are both increasingly similar to and perfect in comparison to the original. The app’s success may be attributed to its simplicity of operation. The first step after downloading the app is to select one of the offered packages, which range in price from $3.99 for 50 photographs to $7.99 for 200 images. After that, you will be required to upload 10 to 20 close-up selfies with a range of backgrounds and expressions. The topic of the generated photos will depend on the gender you choose in the third phase, which might be one of anime, fantasy, fairy princesses, astronauts, rock stars, or superheroes. After a brief wait, you will receive a collection of digital artwork to share with your followers and friends.
Why artists have problems with Lensa AI
We could quote Spiderman and argue that “with great power comes tremendous responsibility” because the editing app’s enormous success is accompanied by a number of problems. The first is related to copyright. Lensa AI and Stable Diffusion, the open-source artificial intelligence model it uses for generative images using a sizable LAION (Large-Scale Artificial Intelligence Open Network) and LAION-5B dataset, have been criticized in the past for stealing copyrighted images from millions of artists who publish their work on host websites like DeviantArt, Pinterest, and ArtStruct. These artists have voiced their frustrations and warned users about the sneaky nature of Lensa AI Additionally, the accessibility of these AI-produced works of art could eventually replace the creatives’ work with a less expensive, clickable substitute.
hypersexualization and male gaze
Regarding Lensa and body positivity
For body positivity, does Lensa represent a step back? Many people are questioning as the app’s popularity rises, but the answer is complicated. The distinguishing characteristics, like with most things, are intention and use, both in terms of expectations and timing. If the app is used as occasional pleasure to experiment with one’s appearance and see oneself as different as one might be with bolder makeup or a new outfit, it still remains pretty innocuous. The trap is the same as the one that underlies Instagram’s influx of glossy, edited photos with impromptu effects. Lensa frequently suggests models with hourglass figures, sculpted bodies that are slender and shapely only in particular areas, enormous, toned breasts, flawless, westernized features, and no flaws. In other words, it presents a wholly unrealistic self, which is OK as long as we are conscious of it and do not put ourselves through stress to make that artwork real enough to go to a cosmetic surgeon to achieve that slender princess or ethereal fairy look, as seems to have happened recently. The risk is internalizing and normalizing that artificial intelligence-reworked portrayal, especially for people who already struggle with physical dysmorphia or low self-esteem.