The first prize-winning image in a photography competition in Australia was won by an AI-generated picture. The judges of the competition were completely fooled, believing the image to be a real photograph taken by a drone of surfers on a beach at sunset.
However, after winning DigiDirect’s monthly competition, the winners revealed that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt for their AI imaging company, Absolutely AI. They later returned the $100 prize money.
The image was entered under the name Jan van Eyck, a nod to the renaissance Belgian painter of the same name who allegedly painted the most stolen work of all time.
Absolutely AI seems rather smug that they pulled this off. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ve reached the point where the machine is now the superior artist to man,” the caption says. “History may look back on our little photography experiment as a turning point when we started to notice the new world we’re living in.”
They are obviously oblivious to the fact that their image isn’t actually the first AI-generated image in the world to win a photography competition. Admittedly that particular image wasn’t mistaken for a real photograph. This time, it appears that things have gone several steps further in the photo-realistic sense.
Clearly, looking at the company’s website, they are fully invested in AI image generation. However, they seem to have slightly missed the point about the joy of creating art, which photographers in general, understand.
“We didn’t need to wake up at sunrise, drive to the beach and send the drone up to capture the image. We created this image from our couch in Sydney by entering text into a computer program,” they said in a statement to Australian Photography.
To me, that’s a pretty sad state of affairs. Having rousted myself out of bed at some god-awful hour to drive to the beach in the dark and cold, only to be met with a magnificently beautiful sunrise. Capturing photographs of those moments pales in comparison to actually being there, feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.
Absolutely AI is calling this image “The most stolen photograph of all time”. That may well be a self-fulfilling prophesy considering that AI images currently have no copyright protection. Anything this company spits out has no legal protection and can be used by anyone in any way they wish.
I agree that the cat is firmly out of the bag at this point. But what we need to do now, as artists and creatives, is to help steer this beast in the direction of using it as a tool to enhance our human creative endeavors, not to replace it.
Would you have fallen for this and mistaken it for a real photograph?