Copenhagen-based collective Sara Galbiati, Peter Eriksen and Tobias Markussen won the 2018 BJP International Photography Award with their series The Merge. The winning entry in this 14th edition of the annual British Journal of Photography competition is described as “an in-depth investigation into artificial intelligence and robotics, which aims to explore and visually interpret the possibility that we are living inside a simulation. Could our world be a constructed illusion?” Announcing the winners, the organisers said, “For thousands of years, our perception of reality has been questioned, and the discussion has garnered new interest with the development of technology. In 2003, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom published ‘The Simulation Argument’, asking whether life on earth could actually be taking place inside a computer simulation, and academics and tech experts came out in droves to support Bostrom’s theory.
“Tesla founder Elon Musk has reasoned that the exponential haste with which artificial intelligence is developing proves that we could actually be inside somebody else’s simulation, as AI is rapidly becoming indistinguishable from our own reality.”
BJP described The Merge as “a seminal work that visually entertains this theory, artistically investigating the consequences that supercomputers, artificial intelligence and robots may have on our society. By looking at interactions between man and machine, the project explores how the accelerated digitised paradigm will affect our emotional, social and moral norms, and could prove our place within someone else’s simulation.
“The project balances realism and imagination, leaving space for the viewer to engage with its dialogue and reconsider their own perception of reality.”