We live in a visual culture in which mediated information and reality are intertwined. Daily we get to see a large flow of images that make it possible to get to know the rest of the world. But what do we really get to know through our Facebook status update stream?! It might not be the truth…….
25-year-old Zilla van den Born made her classmates, family, friends and even her parents believe she went on a five week trip to South East Asia. But in reality she was at home, on her couch in Amsterdam with Christmas lights under a Thai umbrella staging skype calls and facebook photo updates, ‘traveling’ to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos from behind her desk.
Her lie was part of a University graduation project in which she wanted to show how Facebook (and other social media) do not always reflect real life..
“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media. Thereby we create an online ideal world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to proof how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives”.
Five weeks Zilla shared her “journey” through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos on all sorts of social media.
Zilla posted photoshopped snapshots from tropical resorts, diving, beautiful beaches and local tuk-tuks. But in reality Van den Born never went to Thailand or any other country in those five weeks. After kissing goodbye friends and family at the airport, she took the first train back to her apartment in Amsterdam. For 42 days, she mainly hid in her own place, fabricating and Photoshopping the pictures that she put up on social media. To inform her parents and family about her fake endeavors abroad on Skype, Van den Born fabricated the set of a Thai hotel room, decorated with old Christmas lights and an umbrella.
She also sent text messages in the middle of the night to her family to increase her credibility. Only her boyfriend knew about the entire venture.
The fact that the postcards she sent were stamped in the Netherlands, wasn’t noticed by anyone.
She followed an elaborate scheme of activities, all staged of course. The picture of her snorkeling in Thailand was taken in a swimming pool in Amsterdam and later photoshopped to make it look more tropical. She took photos in tropical aquariums in the Artis Zoo, went to a butterfly garden, bought exotic Asian souvenirs on the market and cooked Thai meals, in her own kitchen of course.
Here you can see her visit a Thai Buddhist temple. In Amsterdam of course.
When she finally ‘got back home’ she revealed the truth. See the reactions of her family and friends here.
Zilla also created a book ‘Sjezus zeg, Zilla’ (Oh my God, Zilla) which shows a picture report of her fake trip to Asia. The photographs in this book have been edited, manipulated and changed to a new truth. You can even scan the pages in the book with the augmented reality app Layar to bring the images to life into videos which reveal the actual reality.
…What a project! What a dedication! Check out all the video’s on her Vimeo page
Although very impressive, Zilla’s fake facebook imagery bleaks by the photoshopped geniality of Aurélien Dupuis who ‘created’ a fake round the world (rtw) cycling trip. He used a ‘Vélib’ bicycle (Paris public free rental bikes) – which is probably the most unsuitable bicycle for any sorty of bike touring – as his choice of transport and photoshopped himself riding it around the world!
The images are absolutely mind blowing, and even Zilla could learn from Aurélien’s brilliant travel deceivery!
Here is a sneak preview but for more of his amazing photos check here.