Veteran German photographer Boris Eldagsen, winner of a Sony World Photography Award, has refused to accept the prize after revealing the winning photo was created using an artificial intelligence image generator. Eldagsen acknowleges he was a “cheeky monkey” for the incident, but is hoping the controversy will spark debate.
The Berlin-based photo artist was notified in February he had won the creative category for the 2023 competition, one of photography’s most prestigious honours.
“By entering a computer-generated image to a traditional photography prize, and then subsequently refusing to accept the ensuing award, Eldagsen claims he hopes to “drive debate” about a technology that is poised to dramatically alter how we define and understand photorealist imagery,” the Art Newspaper reports.
The image, titled Pseudomnesia: The Electrician (2022), is part of Eldagsen’s “Pseudomnesia: Fake Memories” series. Those images “have been co-produced by the means of AI (artificial intelligence) image generators.” Eldagsen’s website says. The winning entry had ” all the flaws of AI, and it could have been spotted but it wasn’t,” Eldagsen said.
Insider magazine reports that AI image-generation sites such as DALL-E (used by Eldagsen), Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion have boomed in popularity over recent months, . In their prompts, users can ask the sites to create artwork in the style of a particular artist or images of events that never happened — leading to deepfake images of former President Donald Trump being arrested going viral. Users can also ask the platforms to edit existing images.
Eldagsen’s letter to the photo community, on his Instagram, here.
An article on the bad blood now erupting between the Eldagsen and the Sony Awards here.
A comprehensive piece by the BBC on AI in general and the dispute with the Sony Awards here.