Artist that entered AI image for ‘photography prize’ and won rejects award

The image of two women created by an AI programme has won first place in a photography prize.

The artist who won a photography prize using AI tools has rejected an award following his entry to a competition. Sony World Photography Award judges gave first place to German artist Boris Eldagsen for his entry titled Pseudomnesia: The Electrician for their creative open category.

Why did Eldagsen reject his award for first place?

The artist is critical of the use of AI, and asks that Sony “stop saying nonsense”
and asks them to “join the discussion that really matters!” following their rejection of claims Eldagsen wanted dialogue. On his website, the artist writes: “…you now want to give the impression that you wanted a dialogue, but I don’t, is nonsense”.

Sony claim they knew the photograph was created by artificial intelligence tools, but Eldagsen says this is untrue.

He went on to say: “…pretending that you knew the picture was AI is wrong. I told one of your assistants in length, but then after the press release your PR executive contacted me, being suprised about all the inquiries regarding my image and asking for more info.”

Did Sony know the image was created by AI tools?

When looking at the photograph, it is clear it is created by an AI programme. And considering most ‘photographs’ created by artificial intelligence have an uneasy aesthetic coupled with a surrealistic stroke, it is possible Sony understood this. But what is more important is the conversation surrounding its entry.

Eldagsen rejected his placement for first prize and for good reason. Images created by artificial intelligence are debatably classified as art considering the final piece is not brought about by human hands, but by machine learning tools.

Yes you can insert algorithmic instruction, but the final piece is largely interpreted by the hands of a set of robotic ideas based on what your instructions mean. Even if near perfect to the artist’s imagination, the image is still not created by the hands of a human being.

Eldagsen went on to say: “Enquiries from concerned photographers have never been answered. Enquiries from the non-English press about my rejection of the award were not answered.” This has left many in the art world concerned for real artists as AI tools progress. Besides, what is even creative about the photograph submitted? Aside from the vintage feel and the placement of hands, there is little to ponder. The fact the image was created by AI should say more than the debate itself.

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