Work made with AI named Finalist in MAST Photography Grant

photo by Hicham Garaf

The MAST Photography Grant has awarded one of its five finalist spots to a photographer who used AI text-to-image conversion software to process a collection of images into a large single artistic piece.

This was just one of the selections, and in a moment we’ll look at some of the others too.

While many photographers are looking at AI photo-rendering with a highly critical eye, others are also jumping onto the technology for the sake of their own projects.

This isn’t to even mention a growing number of companies that are actively looking for ways to incorporate AI technology in one form or another into the services, software and products they build for photo and video creators.

How a photographer feels about these trends might vary depending on where they stand professionally and creatively, but it’s evolving and not likely to go away.

As for the MAST Photography Grant itself, it’s one particular photo promotion effort that would indeed be more likely to grant recognition to someone using AI for their work:

The Fondazione MAST, which opened up with a press conference in Bologna, Italy this past week is specifically dedicated to promoting the work of photographers who come up with projects that relate to technology and industry in some way.

A photographer spotlighting AI as part of their photo work is a clear candidate for recognition by such an organization.

With that said, several of the other finalists selected from among 53 worldwide candidates were given their places for more traditional photo documentary work.

These other finalists start with Abu Dhabi-born photographer Farah Al Qasimi, who’s based in New York and created a photo series on the life of a large Arab community in Dearborn, Michigan.

Image credit: Farah Al Qasimi

Then there was the winning work of Moroccan photographer Hicham Gardaf. His body of work titled “In Praise of Slowness”, offers a tribute to the contrasts between expanding, prosperous and bustling city life and traditional ways in a historic city center.

Another creator, Lebohang Kganye, received special mention with her series “Keep the Light Faithfully”, in which moments of South African life are staged through cut-out silhouettes and theatrical lighting.


Image credit: Lebohang Kganye

One more finalist, Italian photographer Salvatore Vitale, went with a more unusual project called “Death by GPS”. in this he guides viewers into reflecting on the vagaries of automation through several documentary photos of real events and staged situations.

Finally, we move back to the artist who used AI and text-to-speech to gain recognition. This is Athens-based Greek photographer Maria Mavropoulou.

Her work processed a collection of cut-out images, mainly of manufacturing robots, into a sort of symmetrical collage.

The purpose of this was to “examine” whether AI will eventually be trained into creating its own independently and intellectually meaningful work.

photo composition with AI by Maria Mavropoulou

Image credit: Maria Mavropoulou

There’s a slight irony to this too, that her work asking a question about potential AI creativity does use AI, but purely as a tool for constructing an entirely human-formulated creative endeavor.

Maybe we can say that the answer so far is “No”, as far as AI being pushed into its own creative pursuits goes.

According to Urs Atahel, curator of the photo and artists’ selections

“Through the MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work, Fondazione MAST offers young photographers the opportunity to confront the issues related to the world of industry and technology, to the systems of work and capital, to inventions, developments and the universe of production, and often, their innovative and unseen before gaze forces us to confront incongruities, fractures, phenomena and perhaps even abysses that we had previously neglected or tried not to see.“

The 2023 MAST Photography Grant is exhibiting the work of the above finalists and others at the Fondazione MAST until May 1, 2023. The finalist works have been on display since January 25th.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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