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Sony World Photography Award 2023: Winner refuses award after revealing AI creation



Pseudomnesia: The ElectricianBoris Eldagsen

The winner of a major photography award has refused his prize after revealing his work was in fact an AI creation.

German artist Boris Eldagsen’s entry, entitled Pseudomnesia: The Electrician, won the creative open category at last week’s Sony World Photography Award.

He said he used the picture to test the competition and to create a discussion about the future of photography.

Organisers of the award told BBC News Eldagsen had mis-led them about the extent of AI that would be involved.


In a statement shared on his website, Eldagsen admitted he had been a “cheeky monkey”, thanking the judges for “selecting my image and making this a historic moment”, while questioning if any of them “knew or suspected that it was AI-generated”.

“AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this,” he continued.

“They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award.”

The image in question showed a haunting black-and-white portrait of two women from different generations.

But as Eldagsen pointed out in his statement: “Something about this doesn’t feel right, does it?” That something, of course, being the fact that it’s not a real photograph at all – but a synthetically-produced image.

The use of AI in everything from song and essay writing, to driverless cars, chatbox therapists and the development of medicine has been widely debated in recent months; now its utility around photography has come into focus.

A spokesperson for the World Photography Organisation said that during their discussions with the artist, before he was announced as the winner, he had confirmed the piece was a “co-creation” of his image using AI.

He noted his interest in “the creative possibilities of AI generators”, they added, while “emphasising the image heavily relies on his wealth of photographic knowledge.

“The creative category of the open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image making from cyanotypes and rayographs to cutting-edge digital practices,” they 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.

“Additionally, we 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.”

They continued: “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.

They said they recognised “the importance of this subject [AI] and its impact on image-making today” but stressed the awards “always have been and will continue to be a platform for championing the excellence and skill of photographers and artists working in the medium.”




Analysis by Chris Vallance, BBC senior technology reporter

When an AI generated image won a US state art competition last September it ignited a debate that has raged ever since.

All the while the power of the technology increases seemingly week by week.

Photographers and artists who previously could console themselves by pointing out the flaws in AI generated images – it struggles with hands for example – now find they are becoming ever harder to spot.

Last month, Tim Flach president of the Association of Photographers, told me of his shock at how easy it was to generate an AI image of a tiger that closely resembled a photo he’d had to step into the cage to capture.

A photography student who spoke to me at the time worried whether his planned career would still exist in a few years.

Many artists and photographers accuse AI systems of unfairly exploiting the works of hundreds of thousands of human creators on which the systems are trained – some have even launched legal action.

But others simply regard AI as just another tool, a new category of art perhaps, but no less valuable.

Photography itself was once a new and, to some, threatening invention they point out.

But a host of very basic issues remain unclear, including who owns the copyright for an AI image.

As well as pictures, AI has generated a raft of as yet unanswered ethical and legal questions.




‘I don’t blame Boris’

Photographer and blogger Feroz Khan took a particular interest in how the events unfolded. He said he did not blame the artist for showing “there is a problem here in the photography industry”.

“For starters, most people have a tough time distinguishing AI-generated images from photographs (at least at first glance),” he wrote. “In a few months, it will probably become even harder to determine critical differences unless scrutinised.

“With this intention, Boris has stated that he wants photography contest organisers to have separate categories for AI images.

“I appreciate him for wanting this distinction in photo contests. Yes, he entered an AI image into the competition, but it doesn’t seem he was out to defraud anyone. He wanted to highlight an issue that certainly needs a lot more attention from everyone.”

He concluded that “he’s clearly shown that even experienced photographers and art experts can be fooled.”

An exhibition of the winners and shortlisted images from this year’s Sony World Photography Awards takes place at Somerset House, London from 14 April to 1 May 2023.


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Artists slam Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster art & claim it’s “AI generated” – Dexerto



Published: 2023-06-01T20:18:07

  ❘   Updated: 2023-06-01T20:18:16


Fans of the long-dormant Duke Nukem series were elated to see a remaster of the first 2 games getting announced, but that excitement has been dampened by people calling out the game’s key art for being “AI generated”.

AI has been rapidly developing as of late, getting implemented in an increasing number of ways for people to generate images and text by feeding certain AI programs a prompt to work from.

AI art has become just as controversial as it has been prominent, and people are increasingly wary of AI-generated images replacing the work of real artists.

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When the promotional art for the Duke Nukem 1 + 2 Remasters released, the joy of many fans was traded out for disdain, with many claiming that the art wasn’t created by an actual artist. To prove their point, several artists put together a detailed analysis of the image to try and explain why they think the artist that was hired didn’t do all his work by hand.

Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster under fire for “AI generated” art

When AI art first started taking the internet by storm, it was pretty easy to discern what was and wasn’t real. Though some images were more convincing than others, things like hands, facial expressions, and other small details didn’t quite line up with what a human artist would produce.

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However, as the technology rapidly advances, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference. For instance, the cover art for a book by the name of Bob the Wizard was exposed as being AI generated after it won a cover art contest, with the author of the book now working with a different artist to replace it.

Now, Duke Nukem fans and artists are calling out Oskar Manuel, claiming that he used AI to generate the cover for the Duke Nukem 1+2 Remaster under the nose of Evercade, the company promoting the remaster.

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It hasn’t been confirmed by the artist or Evercade whether or not Manuel used AI in the production of art for the title, but several artists and gamers have swarmed the account, claiming that art from Manuel’s portfolio seems to be AI-generated.

One artist went out of their way to mark the places in which they think the art most clearly shows its faults and other examples of art from Manuel’s portfolio that includes things like clocks with no hands and characters with 6 fingers.

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Neither Evercade nor Manuel have commented further on the matter at the time of writing, and the story is still developing.

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Global BC sponsors Vancouver Art Gallery: Fashion Fictions – GlobalNews Events – Global News



On now until October 9
Vancouver Art Gallery

Head to the Vancouver Art Gallery for Fashion Fictions,

This exhibition explores the increasing influence of research-based, materially driven practices on the global fashion scene, and surveys experimental design practices pushing the boundaries of the art form.


Proudly sponsored by Global BC.

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Poland's quest to retrieve priceless Nazi-looted art – BBC



Madonna with ChildPolish Institute in Tokyo

When the Nazis occupied Poland in World War Two, many of the country’s priceless pieces of art were stolen.

One of those was Madonna with Child, a 16th Century painting attributed to Italian Alessandro Turchi. A Nazi official who oversaw the looting of art included the painting on a list of hundreds taken from occupied Poland.

But the painting is finally returning home, after being discovered in Japan and handed over to Polish authorities during a ceremony in Tokyo this week.


It is one of 600 looted artworks that Poland has managed to successfully bring home, but more than 66,000 so-called war losses are yet to be recovered.

Poland recently launched a campaign seeking the return of hundreds of thousands artworks and other cultural items still missing after German and Soviet occupations in World War Two. It is also seeking $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for damage incurred by occupying Nazis.

Experts believe more art will be discovered with the passage of time as heirs to looted artwork attempt to sell pieces without being aware of their history.

Madonna with Child is thought to have been transferred to Germany in 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland. The Nazis often looted art belonging to Jewish families before killing them.

The painting was included on a list of 521 artworks in occupied Poland compiled by Kajetan Mühlmann, a Nazi official who oversaw the looting of art.

The painting reappeared in the 1990s, when it was sold at a New York auction.

It was due to be auctioned in January last year, but the sale was halted after Polish authorities spotted the piece. Once it was proven to be the looted painting, the auction house and the painting’s owner agreed to return it to Poland. An official handing-over ceremony took place in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Polish art historian Natalia Cetera said the return of masterpieces like Madonna with Child help restore pride in the country’s art heritage.

Poland had Rembrandt and Raphael pieces stolen, as well as internationally recognised Polish masterpieces, she said.

“So whenever there is this situation where the artworks come back to Polish collections, you feel proud because it shows the importance of Polish collections that is sometimes forgotten,” Ms Cetera told the BBC.

“It means we have some strong focus on remembering our heritage, our collections and the strength we used to have in art, because this is something we tried to rebuild after the war and this is a long process to be recognised again.”

Ms Cetera says she believes there has been a shift in recent years in cultural heritage “being seen as a common good”.

Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, has spent more than 30 years finding missing masterpieces. He believes that more pieces could start showing up as looted artwork gets handed down to the next generation, with the new heirs unaware of their history.

“We’re talking about a generation ago now and these looted objects are being left to their heirs when the possessors pass away and the children don’t necessarily know the history and they decide to sell it,” Mr Marinello said.

Polish authorities have recorded stolen pieces of artwork on Interpol and other private and government databases.

“There’s also a great number of art historians out there who are doing research of looted artworks from Poland and they’re spotting them too,” Mr Marinello said.

“The more that tech improves and auction houses start to post everything online, there’s more eyes looking for the objects that have been looted.”

Madonna with Child

Polish Institute in Tokyo

Mr Marinello believes there is also a “generational shift” in attitudes to stolen masterpieces. He’s currently working on a case where a man in Chicago contacted him about a piece he believed his grandfather stole from a German museum in World War Two.

“They’d had it for an entire generation and now they realise that they can’t sell it and that they would rather give it back than have any more trouble over the issue.”

But the law varies from country to country, and sometimes a stolen piece can only be returned with the goodwill of the current owner.

Japan, where Madonna with Child was found, “is not a great country to recover stolen art from”, Mr Marinello says.

“It’s really up to the possessor in many cases to do the right thing… to understand that something was looted or stolen and that it should be returned, because you can’t rely on a lawsuit under Japanese law,” he said.

Ms Cetera said that the successful retrieval of Madonna with Child was a source of pride, but is unsure whether the passion for bringing stolen artwork back to Poland will continue with future generations.

“The question is whether it is important to the next generation – Gen Z and younger generations, do they really care? From what I observe, this might not be the case,” she said.

Digitised art collections might mean people losing interest in the physical form, she said.

“At some point maybe we won’t have to retrieve artworks… because we will have it in the Cloud and we will be able to reach it any time anywhere, no matter who has it.

“This digitisation and tech that is coming might at some point suppress the need of retrieving physical artworks.”

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