A German artist named Boris Eldagsen won a photography award, but he turned down the prize money. Eldagsen made a picture called Pseudomnesia: The Electrician, using AI, and he wanted to use it to start a conversation about the future of photography.
The picture that Eldagsen submitted for the contest was a black-and-white portrait of two women from different generations.
This amazing photo won the Sony World Photography Award; it's powerful, huh?
Well, sorry it's AI-generated 🤷🏻♂️
The winner, German artist Boris Eldagsen, has refused his prize after revealing his work was in fact an AI creation. pic.twitter.com/acBzuDtzqz
— Mahdi (@mahdi) April 18, 2023
The Sony World Photography Award judges picked his picture as the winner of the creative open category. However, Eldagsen later said that he made the picture to test the contest and see what people thought about AI-made images.
The contest organizers told BBC News that Eldagsen didn’t tell them that he used AI to make his picture. Eldagsen admitted that he was a “cheeky monkey” and thanked the judges for picking his image, but he also asked if any of them knew that it was AI-made.
He said that AI-made pictures are not the same as photos taken by humans, so they shouldn’t be in the same category for the award. Moreover, Eldagsen said that he wouldn’t accept the prize.
Organization knew the image was AI-generated
The World Photography Organization, which is in charge of photography for Creo, an organization that puts on art events, spoke with the artist before announcing him as the winner.
The artist confirmed that the piece was made with the help of AI, but he also mentioned that his photography knowledge was important, said the spokesperson of the organization.
The spokesperson further explained that the creative category of the open competition allows for experimental ways of making images, whether that’s using old techniques or new digital methods.
After talking with Boris and receiving assurances, the organization felt that his entry met the requirements for this category, so they allowed him to participate. They were even excited to have a Q&A session with him on their website.
However, Boris has decided to decline his award. Because of this, the organization has stopped working with him and taken him out of the competition, confirmed the spokesperson.
They recognize that AI is an important topic in image-making, but they want to continue to use their awards to showcase the skills of photographers and artists.
An AI-generated image by Boris Eldagsen wins Sony World Photography Awards 🤯 pic.twitter.com/PWgiv4xaeL
— Nowhere Diary (@nowhere_diary) April 16, 2023
The artist was not at fault
Boris Eldagsen shared that he had requested to participate in an “open discussion” about the topic much earlier in the awards process, but unfortunately, this request was ignored, the BBC reported.
In addition, Eldagsen proposed that the prize money should be donated to a photo festival hosted in Odessa, Ukraine.
Photographer and blogger Feroz Khan closely followed the events of the past week and maintained that the artist was not at fault for highlighting “an issue here in the photography industry.”
Khan explained that it is challenging for most people to distinguish between AI-generated images and actual photographs, and this will become even more difficult in the future. To address this, Boris suggested creating separate categories for AI images in photo contests.
Khan appreciates Eldagsen’s desire to differentiate between the two types of images in photography contests, and he does not believe that Eldagsen intended to deceive anyone. Instead, Eldagsen aimed to bring attention to a critical issue that requires everyone’s attention.
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