After the furore over the Brisbane Portrait Prize announcing it would accept entries generated by Artificial Intelligence the prize’s board has backtracked somewhat, but that’s not enough for some artists.

Brisbane Portrait Prize’s board has said that it would be making changes to entry requirements.

“In light of the response from our community over the last few weeks, the board has reconsidered,” its statement reads. “Our view is that AI is a tool many artists use on a daily basis, be that with intent, or by using the many programs and platforms which have it built into their operations. As a prize which allows digital entries and artistic processes, it is impractical to have a blanket ban on the use of AI.

“However, taking feedback on board, while remaining true to our principles, we will be making two key changes to the entry process and terms.

“Artworks generated wholly by AI will no longer be accepted and we are expanding our transparency requirements for anyone who does use AI so that the judges understand the platforms, phrases and extent of the processes used to create the entry.

“Artists won’t be able to use platforms like Midjourney and DALL-E, which do not grant full copyright to artists. The Brisbane Portrait Prize has always valued the integrity of artist copyright. This has us in line with industry standards, and any further changes will be considered during our annual review of terms at the end of the year.”

That will go some way to placating some people ahead of the artists launch on February 18, but leading Brisbane First Nations artist Birrunga Wiradyuri says it is still not good enough.

He says that he and the artists taking part in Birrunga Gallery’s Cultural Creative Development Program will abstain from entering the BPP in 2024 in protest.

“The strategy of reducing the inclusion of AI into the digital category does not improve matters,” Wiradyuri says. “The same concerns around harvesting of Indigenous artists’ cultural content and IP remain, as does the outright failure of BPP to even nominate this as an aspect warranting concern or consideration in deciding to introduce AI into the competition.

“The recent decision by Brisbane Portrait Prize 2024 to include AI-generated works in the competition has significantly impacted our confidence in the credibility of the event. It seems there’s a culture within BPP leadership that prioritises controversy over integrity.

“Our practice frameworks values accountability and community consultation, which seem lacking in BPP’s decision-making process. AI usage raises concerns about data harvesting without regard for copyright or cultural considerations, which contradicts artistic and cultural values.

“Moreover, the potential for cultural appropriation through AI poses serious ethical dilemmas, with non-Indigenous artists potentially misusing Indigenous data.

“As a result, the six artists of the CCDP cohort are unable to see how the they can responsibly engage in the Brisbane Portrait Prize this year and have decided not to participate across any of the categories. Finally, the prize has exhibited no capacity or need to consider the impacts of AI on the cultural IP of Indigenous artists let alone consult on the matter. Where such a vacuum exists, tokenism thrives.”

Wiradyuri says he stand with Brisbane’s Lethbridge Gallery, which is quite emphatic about AI as evidenced by a message on the gallery website:

“The gallery has always had artists interests first and will continue its support of artists and their dedication to developing their own practice. Therefore, our policy on any artworks entirely generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not and never will be eligible for entry for any art award managed by the gallery.

You can’t say it any plainer than that.

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