Fake Memories, Promptography, and Generative AI, with Boris Eldagsen


Artificial intelligence is a polarizing topic, and its rapid evolution within content creation has set our once familiar world on edge. To help demystify this gargantuan subject and add clarity to important concerns, we’re turning to an artist positioned at the very center of the debate between photography and AI imagery.

Above photograph © Boris Eldagsen

German media artist Boris Eldagsen made global headlines after entering his AI-generated image, “The Electrician,” in the Sony World Photography Awards. He won a top prize, and then ultimately declined the award due to a lack of open discussion about the need to categorize photographs and AI-generated imagery differently.

PSEUDOMNESIA Pt1 | The Electrician, promptography, 2022
PSEUDOMNESIA Pt2 | The Illusion, promptography, 2023
PSEUDOMNESIA Pt1 | The Veil, promptography, 2023
PSEUDOMNESIA Pt1 | The Confession, promptography, 2023
Boris Eldagsen portrait by Wolfgang Zurborn, 2022
SELFIES FROM MY AMYGDALA | #5, promptography, 2022
SELFIES FROM MY AMYGDALA | #4, promptography, 2022
AMBIPHILIA | #10, promptography, 2022
AMBIPHILIA | #5, promptography, 2022
Promptography Boris Eldagsen

Join us for this frank and informative discussion about generative AI. Some of the diverse topics we cover include ways creativity is shared between man and machine, the effects of different languages (and even phrasing) when creating text prompts, inherent biases in AI training data and ways to counter this, the emergence of AI agencies, the newly created job title of Prompt Engineer, and much, much more.

And for those listeners who fear AI as a threat to their photo careers, our discussion ends on an upbeat note, with the classification of generative AI as a knowledge accelerator, being most beneficial to practitioners with a solid background in traditional photography and the visual arts. To quote Eldagsen, “For the first time in history, the older generation has an advantage...” We’ll let you listen to hear the end.

OTHER POEMS | Descartes Car Park, photography, 2017
THE POEMS | #95, photography, 2014
THE CHAMBER OF REFLECTION | V.I.T.R.I.O.L. #12, photography 2017
Eldagsen Selfportrait
OTHER POEMS | Life, photography, 2018
THE POEMS | #119, photography, 2016
THE POEMS | #90, photography, 2014
THE POEMS | #55, photography, 2013
OTHER POEMS | The Laughter, photography, 2016
THE POEMS | #03, photography, 2009
Photography Boris Eldagsen

Guests: Boris Eldagsen

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Episode Timeline:

  • 2:05: Eldagsen’s background in fine art and philosophical disciplines, and how this knowledge is expressed through AI generation and the associated training data.
  • 6:06: The three different stages of creativity, and four different ways creativity is shared between man and machine.
  • 11:49: The two components of AI generators—verbal and visual—and the question of different languages and phrasing when developing text prompts using a large language model such as ChatGPT.
  • 19:45: The 13 elements of AI text prompts, from general subject matter to photographic specialty terms to stylistic and technical references, and the role one’s experience plays in delivering a good result.
  • 24:09: The evolution of the creative economy to incorporate AI departments, and the new role of the Prompt Engineer, and even AI agencies.
  • 31:08: The collaborative aspect of Eldagsen’s art projects, and his evolution from photographer to prompt whisperer, not limited by constraints of traditional image making.
  • 41:15: Episode Break
  • 42:34: Distinctions in terminology between the problematic term “AI Photography” and the more acceptable term “Promptography,” and the associated workflow differences between the two disciplines.
  • 45:41: The saga of the Laion5B dataset and how it relates to the names Open AI, Stability AI, and Stable Diffusion.
  • 51:29: Eldagsen’s win at the Sony World Photography Awards with an AI-generated image, and his ultimate decision to decline the award due to a lack of discussion about how photographs and AI-generated images differ.
  • 1:01:30: The evolution of Eldagsen’s AI workshops, refinements to his teaching process, parameters of AI prompting, and making distinctions between the AI platforms DallE-2, Midjourney, and Adobe Firefly.
  • 1:10:32: The role of Generative AI as a knowledge accelerator, and its potential value to older users who have accumulated knowledge and skills in photography and visual arts—if they are brave enough to take the plunge.

Guest Bio:

Boris Eldagsen’s work in photomedia explores the limits of what can be depicted. Using a combination of street photography, staged works, and, most recently, AI image-making tools, he deals intensively with the subconscious, which inspires him to create new worlds of images.

Eldagsen studied photography and visual arts at the Art Academy of Mainz, conceptual art and intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Prague, and fine art at the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication, in Hyderabad, India. Additionally, he studied philosophy at the University of Cologne and University of Mainz, an education that deeply influences his artistic work.

Based in Berlin, Germany, his photographic and video works have been shown in galleries and institutions worldwide. Important awards include the “Prix Voies Off” from the photo festival in Arles, France, and an award from the Format Festival, in Derby, Ireland. In 2023, he won the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 and infamously refused the award to foster a discussion about distinctions between photography and AI-generated images.

Eldagsen has taught creativity, concept development, and photographic art in Germany and Australia since 2004. Additionally, he is a member of the Deutsche Fotografische Akademie, and is responsible for its online activities.

Stay Connected:

Boris Eldagsen Website: https://www.eldagsen.com/

Boris Eldagsen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/boriseldagsen/

Boris Eldagsen Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boriseldagsen

Boris Eldagsen YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@EldagsenBoris/

Boris Eldagsen Workshops: https://www.eldagsen.com/lecturingworkshops/

Boris Eldagsen Panama Exhibition: https://www.eldagsen.com/pseudomnesia3/

Host: Allan Weitz

Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman

Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein

Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner