World Photography 2023 Winner Rejects Award, Says Image Is AI-Generated

German artist Boris Eldagsen, who won in the Creative category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023, has rejected the prize saying the photo was generated by AI (via Vice).

Creative winner sony awards 23

Called “PSEUDOMNESIA: The Electricia,” the image is described by Sony as “a haunting black-and-white portrait of two women from different generations, reminiscent of the visual language of 1940s family portraits.”

Eldagsen, however, revealed the truth on his website and refused the award noting that the image was generated by AI, and is not a real photo.

“I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find out if the competitions are prepared for AI images to enter. They are not,” he wrote.

“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.”

Eldagsen, who has been a photographer for 30 years, recently turned to AI as part of his artistic practice.

Meanwhile, a World Photography Organisation spokesperson said that the judges were under the impression that it was a “co-creation” with AI and that Eldagsen “deliberately” misled them.

“The Creative category of the Open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image making from cyanotypes and rayographs to cutting-edge digital practices,” the spokesperson said.

“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.” The organization even initially planned to run a Q&A with Eldagsen, but has since “suspended our activities” with the artist, the spokesperson said.

Interestingly, the top prize at the Colorado State Fair’s fine art competition last year also went to an AI-generated image, sparking a major controversy among artists.