The winners of the International Photography Award 2018 are Copenhagen-based collective Sara, Peter & Tobias, who have won with their series The Merge, an in-depth exploration into artificial intelligence and robotics, which aims to explore and visually interpret the possibility that we are living inside a simulation.
Having shared a studio but worked separately for several years, Sara, Peter and Tobias came together to start a collaborative creative studio in 2013. “Coming together gave us room to experiment,” Sara explains. “We each wanted to move away from the conventional shape and form of documentary or editorial photography. Then we realised that if we wanted to do things differently, and wanted something different to happen, we needed to do everything differently, so we came together as a collective.”
Since forming their collective, Sara, Peter and Tobias have made a name for themselves with their first project and photobook, Phenomena. This debut project was an anthropological study of UFOs and extraterrestrials, and was exhibited at Rencontres d’Arles and nominated for Prix de la Photo Figaro. It introduced their conceptual and subjective approach, akin to documentary, which considers issues founded on theories and first-person accounts rather than fact. This unique approach has continued through to The Merge.
“The Merge is the second project we’ve done together,” explains Peter, “We wanted to question whether the world we’re living in could actually be a simulation.” The project balances realism and imagination, leaving space for the viewer to engage with its dialogue and reconsider their own perception of reality. “The reason we’re taking up this idea now is because of developments in artificial intelligence, simulation theory and robotics,” Peter continues.
The collective was drawn to the subject of simulation after learning about the work of Professor Nick Bolstrom, who believes that we could be living inside someone else’s simulation as avatars. By looking at interactions between man and machine, The Merge considers the consequences that supercomputers, artificial intelligence and robots may have on our society, and how this accelerated digitized paradigm could prove our place within someone else’s simulation.
Among their prizes, Sara, Peter and Tobias have won VIP access and promotion at Photo London, and an in-person review of their portfolio from experts at Metro Imaging. The Merge will also be exhibited in a solo exhibition at TJ Boulting Gallery in London from the 13th July to 11th August. The exhibition will be open to the public, and is an opportunity for people to come and see this seminal work for themselves.
“It is a huge acknowledgement to be chosen as the winners of the International Photography Award,” Sara, Peter and Tobias have said of their win. “We have taken up a massive challenge with this project. To interpret and translate this into photography is perhaps the most challenging artistic task we have ever taken on. Therefore, we are so thankful that the project is being understood. Winning the IPA is an amazing opportunity for us and it makes us immensely proud. We are following in the footsteps of some extremely talented photographers and we have seen for ourselves the impact winning has had on their careers.”
You can find out more about Sara, Peter and Tobias and their practices here.
The deadline for applications for the 2019 edition of BJP International Photography Award is 20 December 2018 – 4pm GMT. Apply now!