AI Image Dupes Prestige Awards

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.

The photographer talks about the controversy on a BBC program

“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.

Images from Eldagsen’s Pseudomnesia series

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.

From BBC

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.


  • Francine

    Wow! I had not heard that. Being a painter, I know that computer painting is a very controversial thing and now there are sections for it. People are upset.

    • J Walters

      Yes, exactly Francine. People are upset, and rightly so. Right now, it’s the wild wild west with AI and it’s developing so fast, including as you say with art. Thank you for that comment.

    • J Walters

      Funny, I was thinking of you — ie murals — around some of the AI arts stuff I’ve been following. Can it even extend to paint on buildings? I know that’s kind of a ridiculous question but I was trying to think of any place AI can’t reach. I’m glad Eldagsen did what he did, too. But I think we’re a long way from any control over its impact.

      • Resa

        I’m not sure how AI could extend to paint on walls.
        Of course an artist could copy an AI created image onto a wall.
        Until we have humanly dexterous robots, or cyborgs that are loaded with AI, humans have some advantage.
        It’s like my Art Gowns, which have become all hand sewn out of materials headed for the trash heap. Until AI becomes humanly dexterous, it will only be able to do faux images.
        (Sheridan College did an article on me and the Art Gowns)

        My new tagline: Sustainable Glamour

        • J Walters

          You’re right of course about copying AI created images, basically anywhere. Right about the Art Gowns also. But as you said in your original comment, the whole thing really is unnerving. (Great piece on the Art Gowns, love it, thank you)

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