German artist Boris Eldagsen turned down a prestigious photography award by revealing that His suggestion had been generated by artificial intelligence and that it was only intended to provoke debate.
The Sony World Photographer Awards announced their winners for 2023 in March, among whom was Eldagsen. The photo (below) titled Electricia is described in the press release by Sony as “a haunting black and white portrait of two women from different generations, reminiscent of the imagery of family portraits of the 1940s”.
There’s only one problem: it was created with artificial intelligence software. Eldagsen admitted it in a last blog postin which he asked readers, “How many of you knew or suspected that it was generated by AI? Something’s wrong, isn’t it?”
He continued to say so would not accept the award or attend the ceremonyas “AI imagery and photography should not compete for an award like this.”
“I signed up as a cheeky monkey to find out if the contests are set up for AI imagery to enter. They are not,” he wrote. “We, the world of photography, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to understand by photography and what not. Is the photo screen large enough to invite AI images to participate, or would that be a mistake?”
“By rejecting the award, I hope to speed up this debate,” he concluded.
The image was removed from the Sony World Photographer Awards website, and Eldagsen wrote so in a follow-up message “Waiting” for an official statement of the organization immediately before.