AI photography competition sparks debate

AI art has rapidly risen in popularity over the last few years as generative technology becomes more accessible to a wider audience. While artificially generated art is still a grey area within many artistic spaces, one Australian photography festival is keen to embrace this advancement, crowning the first-ever winner of its AI photography competition. 

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) is passionate about opening up conversations around AI-generated artwork, but the move has sparked debate among audiences, who fear that embracing AI art could lead to an extinction of traditional artistic forms. (Looking to get into photography? Check out our guide to the best camera for beginners). 

AI art created by Hanna Silver (left) and Carolyn McKay (right)

Shortlisted entries to the Prompted Peculiar Prize: ‘Robot Intermarriage’ created by Hanna Silver (left) and ‘Ghost Motel’ by Carolyn McKay (right) (Image credit: Carolyn McKay/Hanna Silver)

 The prize was awarded to Swedish artist Annika Nordenskiöld, for her piece titled ‘Twin Sisters in Love’, which depicts two women nestling up to a bundle of tentacles assumed to be an octopus. The piece was composed using the AI generator Midjourney and is the first prize-winning example of what the festival organisers are calling ‘promptography’.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, when asked about her piece Nordenskiöld said: “None of these places, people or creatures exist in the physical realm. They were conjured from the sum of human experience in our deep collective well, as seen from my dreamboat with its flickering light,” – a cryptic, but oddly beautiful insight into her creative process. 

AI art created by Breeanna Hill

Shortlisted entry to the Prompted Peculiar Prize: ‘Digital Reverie: Nature’s Paradox’ created by Breeanna Hill (Image credit: Breeanna Hill)

Believed to be one of the very first AI photography competitions, the Prompted Peculiar International AI Prize is a groundbreaking advancement in an artistic territory that has typically been excluded from AI art intrusion. However, audiences have been critical of the competition, with many sharing their belief that AI art doesn’t have a place in a traditional photography competition.

In response to the winner’s announcement post on the BIFB’s Instagram account, one user stated: “This isn’t photography. Associating AI with a “photography” festival is incredibly disrespectful to photography and photographers.” Another frustrated commenter felt that the AI art was uninspired, stating “All this AI stuff looks the same. Apart from anything else it’s just boring.”

However, I tend to disagree. While concerns about ethics and copyright are valid, whether or not you’re pro-AI art, the technology will continue to grow, and so will the AI art movement. Surely art can expand beyond the constraints of traditional mediums – and while currently, AI-generated art may feel like an unskilled medium requiring little practical skill, it still requires imagination and creativity. Technology will advance – and so perhaps should our mindset.

Ai artwork by Morganna Magee titled 'A Friend in Need'

(Image credit: Morganna Magee)

If you’re after more news from the AI art world, check out this controversial digital art prize winner, that sparked some heated debate, or take a look at the AI art detector that generated some surprising results. 

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