As we noted in two articles this week, here and here, the capabilities to generate images that look like traditional photographs from text-to-image generators, such as Midjourney and ChatGPT, is mindblowing. It’s getting harder to detect a traditional photograph from an image generated with AI. And it will only continue to get harder to the point where humans won’t be able to tell.
Well, yesterday, Boris Eldagsen, a photographer, won one of the Sony World Photography Awards for the above image titled The Electrician. It initially won the 1st Prize in the Creative Category.
Eldagsen refused the award, however, explaining on his blog that its was an experiment to call attention to the distinction between photographs and AI-generated images, and the need for greater public discussion.
But Eldagsen also believes in the creativity involved with AI text-to-image generation:
I have been photographing since 1989, been a photomedia artist since 2000. After two decades of photography, my artistic focus has shifted to exploring the creative possibilities of AI generators.
The work SWPA has chosen is the result of a complex interplay of prompt engineering, inpainting and outpainting that draws on my wealth of photographic knowledge. For me, working with AI image generators is a co-creation, in which I am the director. It is not about pressing a button – and done it is. It is about exploring the complexity of this process, starting with refining text prompts, then developing a complex workflow, and mixing various platforms and techniques. The more you create such a workflow and define parameters, the higher your creative part becomes.Boris Eldagsen