Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue, talks about the eighth edition of the photography festival which from 16 to 19 November brings some bold and innovative voices to BASE, in a dialogue between ethics and aesthetics

PhotoVogue Festival reopens the debate on ethical implications of the most recent developments in the panorama of contemporary photography, focusing the 2023 edition on the theme of artificial intelligence (A.I.).

The rich program entitled “What makes us human? Image in the age of A.I.” will consist of a series of exhibitions that will highlight the blurred boundary that divides real and virtual, and a three-day symposium in which experts and thought leaders on the subject of artificial intelligence will expose the main critical issues of this revolutionary technology in the legal and ethical fields.

A free event open to all that aims to trigger individual and collective reflections in the public on what it means to be human today and on how the role of creativity and creativity will evolve artistic expression within contemporary society.

In an increasingly restless, contradictory and hybrid world between real and virtual, how will the documentary value of photography change? If machines are able to carry out our tasks as well as or even better than us, what will be the future of humanity? How far is it right to go? If there really is a limit, have we already exceeded it?

We talked about all these topics with Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue

How has photography, and in particular fashion photography, changed since PhotoVogue was born?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: “PhotoVogue was born to encourage a broad and varied discussion on visual culture, a communion of artists who express themselves through visual art in many different fields.

There are many evolutions taking place within the various photographic currents: when we started, in 2011, we began to witness a great shift in fashion photography with regards to representation and inclusiveness.

When I started doing this work, in the 90s, the panorama was very different: the photographers were all men, white, mainly European or North American, but today the voices are multiple.

Personally, I am very proud to have been one of the promoters of this change, trying to make the world a little more fair, at least from the point of view of representation. The other big changes concern publishing: previously anyone who had something to say had to necessarily go through a newspaper, but today everyone is their own editorbecause with social media makes it easier to reach your audience.

On the other hand, a problem has been created for publishing, which often struggles to sustain itself economically. This has allowed new players in the digital world such as Google, Amazon and Apple to emerge."

How is PhotoVogue Festival positioned on the topic of AI?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: “I say it's a bit like the discovery of the wheel, it will overturn everything. The topic is very broad, but we will talk about artificial intelligence only with regards to the generation of images.

I am quite debated because I realize the positive potential of this technology, but also the dangers it entails. Photography is a means used for different purposes: when the ultimate goal is art, adherence to reality is not fundamental, but if we talk about photography as proof or as a document, the possibility that an erosion of the credibility of the document is a hypothesis to be countered.

However, there is no point in putting your head in the sand, we need to talk about it to understand how to deal with this revolution, always keeping in mind the distinction between fashion photography, art and documentary photography.

For this reason it seemed right to me to also organize a three-day symposium which, through a very dense program, will try to cover all the different aspects, from copyright to bias, from ethics to fact-checking, but we will also talk about how in the coming years photojournalism and the art scene will change.”

With these new technologies, how will the documentary role of the photographic medium change in the coming decades?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: "Confronting ourselves with photographers and institutions, we are doing everything we can to implement systems that can unmask fakes, but these are very complex dynamics because as soon as it is discovered and denounced the way in which an image was artificially generated, the next day a new one is born.

It is a discussion that changes daily.

I believe that the further we go, the more often the images will be generated by artificial intelligence, already in five years the paradigm will be very different from today and certainly more complex".

In light of what has been said, how does PhotoVogue stand on these ethical issues?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: “It is important to always make a distinction between an artist who uses A.I. to stage and make visible to the public something that is only in her imagination, and the reporter who is instead reporting from a war zone.

I'm also very scared of how this technology will influence retroactivity and history: when you put a certain number of fake images into circulation, what happens to the archives, what happens to history?"

The “What is Beauty?” exhibitions and “What is Beauty/A.I.”: what emerges?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: “It's interesting to see how the selected artists used A.I. to show the biases of this technology, but also the human biases through which we see others or even ourselves, which are then inevitably reflected in these great image generation engines.

From these exhibitions, the ideals of beauty and stereotypes of which many of us are still slaves will emerge. It will be interesting to see the beginning of this new movement."

The “Uncanny Atlas” and “Eternal Loops” exhibitions: what comes from these reflections?

Alessia Glaviano, head of Global PhotoVogue: “Uncanny Atlas: Image in the age of A.I.” will be an overview of different types of projects: like Exhibit-A-i, a beautiful project developed to create images born from the narratives of refugees seeking asylum in Australia, from which a use of A.I. emerges. almost documentary.

It is interesting to think what could happen if we digitally generated images of what happens, for example, in the detention camps of North Korea. These testimonies allow us to understand how artificial intelligence can help in this sense.

It will then be possible to discover what artists are able to produce with AI; another chapter will instead be dedicated to fake news, from the Pope wearing Moncler to Trump under arrest, which represent the epitome of the danger we are running.

The exhibition “Eternal Loops”, curated by Alejandro Cartagena and Fellowship - a platform representing artists who combine A.I. with video production - will present video art works produced with this innovative technology. Our goal is to offer the public as many tools as possible to reflect on the different uses of artificial intelligence and on the numerous meanings that can derive from it".