The Merge: Award-Winning Visual Exploration of Life Inside a Simulation

From the series The Merge © Sara, Peter & Tobias

The British Journal of Photography recently announced Copenhagen-based collective Sara Galbiati, Peter Eriksen and Tobias Markussen as the winners of the International Photography Award 2018.

Their series, The Merge, is a visual exploration of the possibility that we are living inside a simulation. This in-depth investigation into artificial intelligence and robotics explores and visually interprets the question: Could our world be a constructed illusion?

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.

The Merge is 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 humans and machines, the project explores how the accelerated digitized 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.

From the series The Merge © Sara, Peter & Tobias

Sara, Peter & Tobias

Peter, Sara and Tobias met while attending the Fatamorgana School of Photography in Denmark, where they now share a studio. They made a name for themselves with their first project and photobook, Phenomena, in 2015. This debut project, an anthropological study of UFOs and extraterrestrials, was exhibited in 2016 at Rencontres d’Arles and nominated for Prix de la Photo Figaro. Since their initial collaboration, the collective has developed a conceptual and subjective approach akin to documentary, which considers issues founded on theories and first-person accounts rather than fact.

British Journal of Photography International Photography Award

Now in its 14th year, British Journal of Photography’s International Photography Award recognizes the best of contemporary photographic talent. The award has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the most influential and respected photographers today, giving them the opportunity to be recognized and celebrated by the international photographic community.

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Andrea Karen Hammer, a Philadelphia-based freelance writer, is the founder, director and owner of Artsphoria Media Group. As CEO, she leads the operation and innovation at Artsphoria: Arts, Business & Technology Center, Artsphoria International Magazine (https://www.artsphoria.com) and Artsphoria: Food for the Soul (https://artsphoria.live).