Digital artwork miscaptioned as satanic runway show

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on February 24, 2023 at 19:01
  • Updated on April 29, 2024 at 17:19
  • 5 min read
  • By Nahiara S. ALONSO, AFP USA
  • Translation and adaptation Natalie WADE
Images shared online of runway models are accompanied by claims they show a satanic collection presented at New York Fashion Week in February 2023. This is false; they are art pieces generated with artificial intelligence (AI) and digital software, the graphic designer who created them confirmed.

"NY fashion week… This is how sick these people are… '" says a February 19, 2023 tweet with more than 4,000 likes.

Screenshot of a tweet taken February 24, 2023

Other posts misattributing the images can be found elsewhere on Twitter and Facebook, and in Spanish.

Held twice a year, New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is one of four major global events for the industry. And while some designers push the boundaries of fashion, these are not images captured at the event in February.

AFP conducted a reverse image search and discovered the images were created by digital artist Rob Sheridan, whose social media handle can be seen in some of the posts.

The graphic designer's original post, which was shared on Instagram, also includes a caption that reads as parody -- as if Satan had designed a collection for the fashion event -- accompanied by the hashtags "synthography," "aihorror" and "aiart."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Rob Sheridan (@rob_sheridan)

"I've seen my work spread by people who claim it's real. It's really getting out of control, even the Church of Satan just issued a clarification denying it," Sheridan told AFP.

The images are generated through AI, he said.

"These are totally digital creations" and are "not affiliated with the NYFW," Sheridan said. They are made through a combination of synthography, -- a software process that allows a creator to enter keywords to generate images -- and Photoshop, he explained.

Recently, AI artwork has seen explosive growth. Using algorithms that analyze countless images and art pieces online, these programs can generate highly intricate works. "Because there are so many photos taken of fashion show runways, the knowledge of AI was perfect for placing these fantastic concepts in realistic fashion show scenarios," Sheridan said, clarifying that his work was not based on a specific set of photographs.

"People need to apply more critical thinking to what they see online," Sheridan said.

AFP reviewed pictures published by its photographers and Getty Images, taken at fashion week events, but found no such images. They also do not appear on the official NYFW website, which features the collections presented by all designers who participated this February.

AFP contacted NYFW to inquire about the images, but a response was not forthcoming.

In recent years, several fashion houses have come under fire on social media after users accused them of having "satanic ties," some of which have been debunked by AFP here, here and here.

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