Photography loses credibility

Clara Sweeney , Staff Writer/Photographer

Artificial intelligence has emerged out of nowhere and has become almost suffocating on social media and in the news. AI created images of The Pope turning into a god-zilla-like monster are being thrown around on twitter as well as AI generated images of Cuban refugees (Christopher Brown’s project 90 miles) and people partially made of corn (Jack Sorokins “CornCutore” project) on Instagram. 

As we see more and more examples of artificial intelligence in our day to day lives an enormous amount of questions arise across the board. Some have taken a deep dive into what these advancements will mean for jobs in multiple fields. As for photography, people are questioning how to know and believe what is real and what has been artificially generated. Photographer Christepher Brown and his AI generated project 90 miles have stricken controversy around the media. Many are saying that a touchy subject shouldn’t be portrayed without real human experience. Another photographer with experience creating AI generated images, Jack Sorokin says “They’re not photographs and they’re not documents. They are illustrations and that’s fine, but that distinction is really important.” Photographer and teacher Rosie Day claims “I don’t think people are willing to accept artificially created documentation of a sensitive and traumatic event – It doesn’t represent reality, and I think it lacks empathy, and creates a biased reality as it relates to race and demographics. People are still unwilling to celebrate or even respect ‘photojournalism’ work created in this way.” Human connection is what truly separates AI generation from things that people are creating intimately. 

Sorokin has started an AI generated project of his own, “CornCouture”, which features people, animals, and businesses surrounded and engulfed by corn. He says he wants to “…provoke thought about corn’s omnipresence in modern American life.” The images are very real-looking but it’s obvious that they aren’t real-life (cows don’t really have patches of corn growing on them). AI generation has created an entire new medium that gives people a chance to take a step further into conceptual art (art that is focused on promoting a concept or idea). Sorokin also explained that “From an economic perspective it’s making it much much quicker and easier and less time consuming to make images but from an artistic perspective it’s making photographers-or will make photographers or journalists- question what is the essence of what it is that you’re doing.” Sorokin has a background in both photojournalism and AI image generation and he continues to believe that human connection is what truly separates AI generation from things that people are creating first hand. 

Even though AI has brought unique opportunities, some human connection is seemingly disappearing. For example, stock imagery will ultimately be taken over by AI-image-generation, as well as other jobs like baristas and fast food workers. Wilsonville High School assistant principal Mrs.Strohmaier says “Even small things like some fast food restaurants where you can order on the kiosk, you don’t order from a human anymore and that’s less AI but more technology in general makes you wonder how many jobs technology will replace.” Even though a continuously growing amount of jobs are losing their fight against technology, artificial intelligence cannot replicate a true sense of human kinship. 

Even as we continue to take steps further into a world of AI people are continuing to consider critical thinking and accountability in this advanced world.