Photographer admits prize-winning image was AI-generated
German artist Boris Eldagsen says entry to Sony world photography awards was designed to provoke debate
The spokesperson for the organization that ran the competition said the following:
“In our correspondence, he explained how following ‘two decades of photography, my artistic focus has shifted more to exploring creative possibilities of AI generators’ and further emphasising the image heavily relies on his ‘wealth of photographic knowledge’. As per the rules of the competition, the photographers provide the warranties of their entry.
“The creative category of the open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image making from cyanotypes and rayographs to cutting-edge digital practices. As such, following our correspondence with Boris and the warranties he provided, we felt that his entry fulfilled the criteria for this category, and we were supportive of his participation."
Sounds to me like he was upfront about the use of AI - if not entirely clear about the level
to which it was used - and the organization accepted the entry knowing this. But later the same person says (emphasis added):
"[W]e were looking forward to engaging in a more in-depth discussion on this topic and welcomed Boris’ wish for dialogue by preparing questions for a dedicated Q&A with him for our website.
“As he has now decided to decline his award we have suspended our activities with him and in keeping with his wishes have removed him from the competition. Given his actions and subsequent statement noting his deliberate attempts at misleading us, and therefore invalidating the warranties he provided,
we no longer feel we are able to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him."
So they accepted the image saying it met the criteria for entry, but only after the winner refused the prize and said he
didn't think such images should be in competitions like this did they cut him off and accuse him of cheating.
My sympathies are with the artist here. I grew up in a world where "photography" meant images created through photochemical reactions. I can still feel the shock I experienced several decades ago when I was flipping through a photography magazine and saw that not only were digital images included, but that a prize winning image of a dog looking through a fence was a digital paste-up of images of dog, fence, and sky. Such an image is certainly a work of creative art, but it's not photography.
BTW, anyone who has seen any of the AI images online of things like 1920 Justice League or Fritz Lang's Hellraiser would at the very least suspect the faces in the winning image were computer generated.
I asked ChatGPT to 'Write me a short Fortean themed three paragraph story' This was it's reply (and not bad all in all):
As soon as the sun began to set, the quiet town of Millfield became enveloped in a thick fog. Residents stayed indoors, wary of the strange and unexplainable events that had been happening lately. Some claimed to have seen ghostly figures wandering the streets at night, while others reported hearing mysterious whispers and screams coming from the woods.
One night, a group of teenagers decided to venture into the forest to investigate the strange sounds. As they made their way deeper into the woods, the whispers grew louder and more menacing. Suddenly, they stumbled upon an ancient-looking tree with strange markings etched into its bark. They felt an eerie presence all around them, as if the tree was alive and watching them. As they turned to leave, they saw a figure emerge from the shadows, its eyes glowing with an otherworldly light.
Terrified, the teenagers ran back to town, warning others of the supernatural danger lurking in the woods. But when the townspeople went to investigate, the tree and the figure were nowhere to be found, leaving them to wonder if it had all been a trick of the imagination or if something truly paranormal was at play.
Yes, this is a very acceptable story, but has no feeling
. It reminds me of a comedian I heard years ago who summed up Romeo and Juliet as "two teenagers fall in love and wind up dead". Even if you had asked it to write in a particular author's style, it would only regurgitate, not come up with new
style. I fear AI is the Hollywood producers' dream come true: constant output of adequate product without regard for artistic expression.