Winner of world's first AI art award blends surrealism and documentary in unusual portrait

Prompted Peculiar – AI Prize
Twin Sister in Love - Winner of Promopted Peculiar International AI Prize (Image credit: Annika Nordenskiöld)

Since AI photography first entered our stratosphere, it’s been a point of controversy. Hyper-realistic, computer-generated images are now so convincing that it’s hard to distinguish real photos taken with a camera from those created with text prompts. 

Last year Boris Eldgasen won (but rejected) the creative category at the Sony World Photo Awards, opening up a worldwide conversation about if and how AI and photography can coexist. Now he’s judging the the world’s first AI art award. 

• Have a go at creating your own surreal imagery with the best AI image generators

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Australia announced Annika Nordenskiöld as the inaugural winner of the Prompted Peculiar – International AI Prize. For the first time, artists and photographers were encouraged to use AI to generate images – and more than 100 submissions were entered, with Nordenskiöld's Twin Sisters in Love coming out on top. 

Meta Inversion  (Image credit: Adrian Elton)

The old-fashioned black-and-white portrait of two sisters tenderly cuddling an octopus blends classic documentary-style photography with the kind of surrealness you can only achieve with AI. The final image leaves you questioning reality; after all, it's not often you see humans hugging a cephalopod – especially out of the water. 

Nordenskiöld, who works and lives in Sweden, is known for her versatile use of painting, sculpture and photography (or image generation) to create her works of art. Speaking about her submission, she explains, "It is the dream of a dreamer to bring home some proof of the journey; to become an oneironaut, a person who dreams worlds – a lucid dreamer, collecting notes and images, even objects, from the world within."

Robot Intermarriage, Melbourne 1895, 2023 – Winner of People's Choice Award (Image credit: Hannah Silva)

The Prompted Peculiar – International AI Prize features 20 exceptional shortlisted pieces selected by the jury and is currently on display at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale. 

The People's Choice Prize also saw nearly 1,000 votes cast, with Victorian artist Hanna Silver earning the highest number of votes for her work titled Robot Intermarriage, Melbourne 1895, 2023 (below). Melbourne-based designer Breeanna Hill and Sydney artist Carolyn McKay were both highly commended by the judges for their submissions.

Showcasing over 2,000 photographic works throughout buildings, galleries, laneways, and outdoor locations, the Ballarat Biennale is a highlight in the city's art and culture calendar. Don't miss this immersive experience and the opportunity to visit the world’s first AI art exhibition. For more information, head to the Ballarat International Foto Biennale website

Holly Oak Circle (Image credit: Kate Ballis)

Leaving Shadows Behind (Image credit: Nic Kocher)

Digital Reverie (Image credit: Breeanna Hill)

If you want to shoot "real" photos, these are the best cameras for portraits and the best lenses for portraits.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.