Pseudomnesia: The Electrician 'won'

Sony World Photography Awards 2023

Which judge judged what exactly is not clear but it doesn't need a judge to judge that the winning 'photograph' in the creative open category is not a photograph. Boris Eldagsen, the winner, refused the prize because his image was created using AI (artificial intelligence) and not a camera. "AI is not photography," he said.

Judge for yourself.

Clearly, the judges are nothing like as smart as they thought they were if they really believed this is a photograph. It is pretty obviously not, for all sorts of reasons that can be seen at a glance. I hope they were not paid very much.

The question is whether it matters. Photographs these days are nothing like 'proper' photographs from negative film printed as positive one-offs on photographic paper. Today, reality is re-processed before an image even comes off a digital camera then is Photoshopped or mobile phone filtered. A new real photograph is rare. I don't know whether it matters but it's sad.

But it does seem to matter that official judges don't know the difference between a camera photograph and an AI imitation of one. They might not be expected to know in the near future but they should now.

For what it's worth (off the top of my head), for something to be classed as a photograph, light from a subject must have passed through a lens and been recorded as a one-off static image of the subject (after that, many copies of it might be made but it remains a photograph). Depending on the amount of digital editing done to it after the image was recorded, it may still be a photograph or it may be an image based on a photograph.

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Page last modified: 13 April, 2024
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Patrick Taylor