A winner of a major photography award has rejected the award after admitting the images he submitted were created by artificial intelligence.
German artist Boris Eldagsen’s work, titled Pseudomnesia: The Electrician, won last week’s Sony World Photography Awards in the Creative Open category.
In a statement on his website, the artist said he applied to the competition as a “cheeky monkey” to see if it was ready for AI imagery to enter.
“They’re not,” he concluded.
He also asked readers: “How many of you know or suspect that it’s AI-generated? Feels wrong, doesn’t it?
“AI imagery and photography should not be competing against each other in awards like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography.
“So I won’t accept the award.”
Eldagsen said that when organizers told him he had won, he let the organizers know how his image was built, and claims they replied that he could keep the award.
He posted a detailed transcript of a conversation he had with awards organizer Creo, in which he appeared to repeatedly stress to them why they initially failed to reveal that his images were produced using AI.
Eldagsen also noted that the word “pseudomnesia” means “false memory” in Latin.
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A spokesman for World Photography said El Dagson did acknowledge how his image was made before being declared the winner of the competition, adding that he emphasized that the image “relyed on his ‘extensive photography’ knowledge'”, and they were satisfied that he met the entry criteria.
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However, they also said that relations between the two countries had now deteriorated, adding: “Furthermore, we look forward to a more in-depth discussion on this topic and welcome Boris’ desire for dialogue, with questions ready for a dedicated Q&A with our website.
“If he decides now to decline his award, we will suspend our activities with him and remove him from the competition at his will.
“Given his actions and subsequent statements stating that he deliberately misled us, thereby invalidating the assurances he provided, we no longer believe that we are able to have a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him.
“We recognize the importance of this topic and its impact on image-making today. We look forward to exploring this topic further through our various channels and programs and welcome the dialogue surrounding it.”