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Canberra Today 13°/15° | Monday, December 4, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Art prize for images using AI ‘promptography’

An Australian-first art prize has been set up for images created using artificial intelligence prompts, reports LIZ HOBDAY

IF a human artist uses artificial intelligence to generate an award-winning image, do they deserve to take home the prize money?

“The Electrician”, Boris Eldagsen’s AI-generated image that won a Sony World Photography Award.

That’s one of the questions raised by an Australian-first photography competition as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, which rewards images created using AI prompts.

One of the judges, Berlin-based photo and video artist Boris Eldagsen, turned down first prize in the creative open category of the Sony World Photography Awards in April, because his winning image used AI.

“AI is not photography”, he said at the time.

Artificial intelligence would have predicted, no doubt, the online ruckus that ensued, out of which a new term arose: promptography.

“The Prompted Peculiar – International AI Prize 2023” embraces this emerging discipline, in which artists feed prompts into an AI system to produce images.

It offers a $2000 overall prize and a $1000 people’s choice award.

But this second prize seems a little unfair to the computers – shouldn’t they get a say, too?

Er, no, said biennale chief executive Vanessa Gerrans, who suggested a computer-chosen prize might be one for next time.

Gerrans is also on the judging panel and believes AI images can be elevated to the status of art, but says the role of the technology is certainly up for debate.

“There are clearly unresolved issues around moral rights and consent,” she told AAP.

“These are the conversations we need to start having so we can make sure we’re primed and acting ethically and responsibly.”

Gerrans says it’s fascinating to be at the forefront of what artists are doing with AI.

But just like their counterparts at the Sony awards, the judges will need to stay on their (human) toes.

“We’re hoping the submissions will actually be AI generated, as opposed to a photographer submitting a photograph,” she said.

There are glorious ironies everywhere: the milestone exhibition for the Biennale’s 10th edition is titled “The Real Thing”.

And another show, Instant Warhol, shows off the pop art master’s original Polaroids, which are precious items, unique and irreplaceable.

Yet Warhol, an early pioneer in digital art, would top any (computer generated) list of artists who would relish the possibilities of AI.

“Prompted Peculiar” will also be a chance for in-person debate about where AI-generated images belong, with presentations to be held at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Shortlisted images are on show from September 22 at BAaD Gallery & Events, with winners to be announced on October 8.

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Australian Associated Press

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