In a surprising turn of events, the winner of the open creative category at the Sony World Photography Award 2023, organized by the World Photography Organisation (WPO), has declined the prestigious award. Boris Eldagsen’s AI-generated photo, titled “Pseudomnesia: The Electrician,” sparked a conversation about the future of photography, as reported by BBC News.
Boris Eldagsen’s Bold Statement
Acknowledging his “cheeky monkey” approach, Eldagsen expressed gratitude to the judges for selecting his AI-generated photo and making history. He also questioned whether some judges were aware that artificial intelligence created the image. Eldagsen’s striking black-and-white photo features two women from different generations, and through his actions, he conveyed a powerful message:
- AI imagery and photography shouldn’t compete with each other for an award like this.
- They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore, I will not accept the award.
WPO’s Response to the AI-Generated Photo
A WPO spokesperson shared that they had communicated with Eldagsen before announcing him as the winner. During this conversation, Eldagsen revealed that the winning “photo” was a “co-creation” of his image using AI. The artist expressed his interest in the “creative possibilities of AI imaging” but emphasized the importance of photographic knowledge.
The World Photography Organisation’s Stance
The WPO spokesperson acknowledged that the open creative category encourages experimental approaches to image creation, including cutting-edge digital practices. They stated:
- We felt your entry met the criteria for this category and we support your entry.
- We were eager to participate in further discussion on this topic and welcomed Boris’ desire for dialogue by preparing questions for a dedicated Q&A session with him on our website.
However, since Eldagsen refused the prize, the WPO suspended their activities with him and removed him from the competition.
The Future of AI-Generated Photo
The World Photography Organisation recognizes the significance of AI-generated photos and their impact on image creation today. However, they emphasized that the awards “always have been and will continue to be a platform to champion the excellence and skill of photographers and artists who work in the area.”
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The Sony World Photography Award 2023 has brought to light the role of AI-generated photos in the world of photography. Boris Eldagsen’s decision to decline the award has ignited a discussion about the boundaries between AI-generated imagery and traditional photography. As artificial intelligence continues to develop, the distinction between the two may blur further, challenging artists, photographers, and award organizers to navigate this evolving landscape.