The double portrait shows two women. These women never existed. An artificial intelligence created them. Nevertheless, the German photo artist Boris Eldagsen took first place in the "Creative" category at the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 (SWPA) with his picture "The Electrician". Pictures, that's what Eldagsen calls these works, not photographs, as he explained in an interview with "GEO" at the end of March. The photographic is only used as a visual language. The aesthetic of the award-winning image is reminiscent of photos from the 1940s.
There are currently three large image generators that he works with, says Eldagsen. He feeds these programs with work instructions, and the artificial intelligence then creates images based on his prompts. He works on one for two to three days at a time.
Those responsible for the World Photography Awards knew that "The Electrician" is not a photo in the traditional sense. He had already pointed this out on his website when he submitted it, he told "Geo". A spokesman for the World Photography Organization confirmed to The Guardian that Eldagsen confirmed the image's "co-creation" using AI before announcing it as the winner. But why accept non-photograph images in a photo contest? The creative category of the open competition welcomes a variety of experimental approaches to imaging, from cyanotypes and rayographies to cutting-edge digital techniques, the organization said, according to the Guardian. Following the assurances given by Eldagsen, the organization believes that his entry meets the criteria for this category.
A few days ago, however, Boris Eldagsen refused the award at the Sony World Photography Awards ceremony. He wrote on Instagram: "AI imagery and photography shouldn't compete for an award like this. They're different things. AI isn't photography. That's why I won't accept the award."
He applied as a "naughty monkey" to find out if the AI image competitions are prepared to enter. Eldagsen's conclusion: "They're not." The photo world needs an open discussion. "A discussion of what we want and don't want to see as photography".
In his post on Instagram, the artist also addresses viewers directly: "How many of you knew or suspected that it was generated by an artificial intelligence? Something about it doesn't feel right, does it?"
Artificial intelligence not only poses questions for the photo and art world, but also for the music world. After images, deceptively real songs with the voices of Drake, Jay-Z and Co. are now haunting the internet. You'll find more about it here.
Sources: Instagram, Guardian, Boris Eldagsen, Geo
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