German photographer admits Sony award-winning image was AI generated

German photographer admits Sony award-winning image was AI generated

Boris Eldagsen has revealed to judges of the Sony World Photography Awards that his image had been created using artificial intelligence, after he had accepted a prize in the creative open category. The stunt comes amid growing, worldwide concern about the power of AI to change economics and the everyday human experience.

Boris Eldgasen wins award with AI-produced photograph

It is hard to tell whether there is something uncanny about Boris Eldgasen’s award-winning black and white portrait of two women in a place that looks like the past, or whether that discomfort is only recognisable when you know the image was produced by a robot.

Whichever is true, the image was obviously affecting enough to impress judges at this year’s Sony World Photography Awards, who granted the photographer an award in the creative open category.

In a statement on his website, the artist, who is based in Berlin, said that he submitted his work, titled “PSEUDOMNESIA | THE ELECTRICIAN” to find out if such competitions are prepared for AI images to be entered. At the London awards ceremony, Eldagsen publicly rejected the prize he was given at the event, coming clean about his stunt. Eldagsen's personal conclusion? “They are not [ready].” 


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Eldgasen calls on Sony awards to “stop saying nonsense”

Since the ceremony, a spokesperson for the World Photography Organisation has said that Eldagsen had made the organisation aware of the photograph’s origins during the competition submission process.

Eldagsen alleges that this is untrue. In a statement online, the artist said that he followed the rules of the competition, which stipulated that submissions could be made using “any device”.

The artist even claims that he told the award organisers that much of his work is in the field of AI-generated images, but they were not interested in having a discussion on the topic and ignored enquiries from concerned photographers who were questioning the unknown origin of the image.

In a response to Eldagsen’s comments, the World Photography Organisation published a statement saying, “The creative category of the open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image making from cyanotypes and rayographs to cutting-edge digital practices. 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.”

“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,” the statement continued. “Given his actions and subsequent statement noting his deliberate attempts at misleading us, and therefore invalidating the warranties he provided, we no longer feel we are able to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him.”

Thumb image credit: T. Schneider /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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