AI Image Wins Sony Photography Contest’s Creative Category; Artist Rejects Award
The Sony World Photography Awards, a yearly contest run by the World Photography Organisation, had awarded the first prize for the Creative category to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated image, PetaPixel reports. The image in question, titled The Electrician, was submitted by Berlin-based photomedia artist Boris Eldagsen, who refused the award after revealing its creation process through an open letter to the organisers published on his blog.
In the post, the artist stated that he submitted the piece as an experiment and effort to accelerate the conversation regarding the use of AI-generated images in high-profile contests such as the Sony World Photography Awards. “I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find out if the competitions are prepared for AI images to enter,” he wrote. “They are not.”
Eldagsen noted that this is still a historic moment nonetheless, as the artwork is the first ever AI-generated image to win in a prestigious international photography competition. However, he stressed that this shouldn’t be the case to begin with since such creations aren’t supposed to be considered as photography.
“AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this,” he stated. “Therefore I will not accept the award.”
The Berlin-based photomedia artist explained that he has been involved in photography for 30 years before shifting to exploring the creative possibilities of AI generators. His submission, The Electrician, is part of a series of 1940s inspired artworks titled PSEUDOMNESIA: Fake Memories, which he has been working on since 2022. Drilling the point even further, Eldagsen described the images as “fake memories of a past that never existed, that no one photographed.”
The artwork itself depicts what appears to be a portrait of two women captured with a photographic process from the early days of photography. Without looking into the finer details to notice any suspicious flaws, the artwork could convincingly pass off as a photograph taken in the 1940s era, or inspired by it. This goes to show that such creations can be abused to achieve prestigious recognition in the photography world if left unmoderated.
The World Photography Organisation removed The Electrician from its website not long after Eldagsen’s statement, though a mention of it can still be found in Sony’s press release regarding the contest. The artist himself even travelled to London to attend the Sony World Photography Awards ceremony on his own expense, just to reject the reward and deliver his statement on stage, albeit uninvitedly.
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