Artist won’t accept photography award for his AI-generated work

  • Boris Eldagsen was recently awarded first prize in the Creative category of the Sony World Photography Awards, but chose not to accept his award.
  • Eldagsen never used a camera for his award-winning photo, but rather AI to create the image.
  • He rejected the award to highlight the fact that, “AI is not photography” in his view.

Much has been made of the use of AI to generate images. While the technology is impressive, pervasive, and evolving at a rapid rate, it is still proving contentious, especially when it comes to issues around ownership and remuneration. Those issues were highlighted again as one of the recipients of a Sony World Photography Award rejected his first prize.

The artist in question is German, Boris Eldagsen, who won first prize in the Creative category for his work titled The Electrician, which you can see in full at the bottom of this story.

The image, along with a series that Eldagsen has been working on since last year, features work that it is entirely AI-generated.

“Thank you for selecting my image and making this a historic moment, as it is the first AI generated image to win in a prestigious international PHOTOGRAPHY competition. How many of you knew or suspected that it was AI generated? Something about this doesn’t feel right, does it? AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award,” noted Eldagsen in a blog post regarding his rejection of the award.

For those wondering why he would enter with an AI-generated work and then not accept an award for it, the artist explains that it was done in order to highlight the fact that AI is not photography in his option.

“I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find out, if the competitions are prepared for AI images to enter. They are not. We, the photo world, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to consider photography and what not. Is the umbrella of photography large enough to invite AI images to enter – or would this be a mistake? With my refusal of the award I hope to speed up this debate,” he explained.

“Having been a photographer for 30 years before I turned to AI, I understand the pros and cons of this debate and will be happy to join the conversation,” concluded Eldagsen.

While his rejection likely won’t lead to a decrease in the use of AI to create images, it looks like more voices in the artistic world are in opposition to its use for monetary or critical gains.

The Electrician by Boris Eldagsen.

[Image – Boris Eldagsen]


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