Real Photographer Beats Out Robots in AI Art Competition

In an unusual turn of events, one photographer has pushed back against AI by not only submitting, but winning a photo contest for generative images with a real photo that he took. Miles Astray’s “F L A M I N G O N E” (2022), featuring the lanky pink bird with its head hidden in its feathers as it was scratching its belly on a white-sand shore, was subsequently disqualified from the AI category of the 1839 Awards Color Photography Contest after being awarded third place by the jury and securing the people’s vote.

“I entered this actual photo into the AI category of 1839 Awards to prove that human-made content has not lost its relevance, that Mother Nature and its human interpreters can still beat the machine, and that creativity and emotion are more than just a string of digits,” Astray wrote in a blog post.

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This UNO reverse card moment comes a little over a year after German photographer Boris Eldagsen won a Sony World Photography award with his AI-generated “photo” derived from prompt engineering on DALL-E 2. Eldagsen, however, opted to refuse the award instead after disclosing to the jury panel that he had used AI.

After securing the award, Astray revealed to the team of jurors, who hold high-level imaging positions at the New York Times, Getty Images, and Phillips, among other companies, that “F L A M I N G O N E” was indeed a real photo. 1839 Awards decided to disqualify Astray’s entry — a decision the photographer says he agrees with.

“Let me start by saying we fully appreciate the powerful message Miles relayed with his submission to the AI category,” said Lily Fierman, the co-founder and director of Creative Resource Collective, the company that manages 1839 Awards among other photography contests, in an email to Hyperallergic. “We agree that it is an important, relevant, and timely statement.”

But Fierman and the team agreed that it wasn’t fair to the other contestants whose submissions abided by the rules, noting that “we understand that [his submission] was the point, but we don’t want to prevent other artists from their shot at winning in the AI category.”

There’s no hard feelings between the two parties, either, as 1839 Awards has asked Astray to write for them about this exact topic. “No one believes in the power of photography more than we do,” Fierman left off.

Recounting the experience to Hyperallergic, Astray said that “F L A M I N G O N E” was the perfect shot for hammering in the point because “the scene is so unreal and for such a simple, natural reason: a flamingo scratching its belly.”

Source: Hyperallergic.com

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