Melbourne artist Hanna Silver was one of 20 finalists for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale’s (BIFB) inaugural AI Prize, Prompted Peculiar, a global competition offering a $2000 prize to the overall winner and $1000 for the People’s Choice Award.
Silver won the People’s Choice Prize, with almost 1000 votes cast for her work Robot Intermarriage, Melbourne 1895 (2023). Silver is a pianist, synthesist, composer, producer, piano teacher and self-described overly multitasking woman. She started making images with AI about a year ago. “I’ve just found it addictive; I love the unpredictability of it,” she said. “You type in your prompt, and you really don’t know what you are going to get.
“You have to try and hone your prompt and you know sometimes repetitively to achieve the result that you’re looking for.”
Silver explains her original prompt entered in the AI software program was, “Old photograph from 1895. Melbourne Australia. Flinders street. A robot from the future is getting married to a tram. Wedding ceremony in the middle of the street. Robot and tram love each other. Happy celebration.”
The AI program failed to produce an image of a robot marrying a tram, but Silver said, “I am pretty happy with the result, nonetheless.”
“That’s part of the beauty of working with AI, you never know what you’re going to get. I also enjoy just allowing ideas to pop into my head out of nowhere; this was one of those random ideas.”
In a nod to the growing public interest in AI-generated art, the BIFB invited artists from around the world to move into the future with Australia’s inaugural AI prize.
The Biennale’s artistic director Vanessa Garens decided to include AI methodology as a way to expand a conversation about visual culture.
Garens said, “I was thinking what a good way it would be to present AI and have that conversation but not present it as photography.”
The terms and conditions for the prize state it is an explicitly AI-generated imagery prize, but it’s within the context of a photography festival.
Fellow finalist entrant and friend Adrian Elton said, “Brilliant result for Hanna and I am very excited for her; we used to chat about all things music and now it’s about AI-generated artwork.”
Swedish artist Annika Nordenskiöld won the inaugural artificial intelligence art prize at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, for Twin Sisters in Love.
The Prompted Peculiar exhibition is on view at BAaD Gallery & Events, 737 Sturt Street Ballarat, 10am-5pm daily until Sunday, October 22. Further information at ballaratfoto.org