The Girl Who Faked a 42 Day Backpacking Adventure Across Asia

Zilla Van Den Born convinced her friends and family into thinking she was travelling Asia, from her bedroom!

Before Photoshop

These days with social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram etc. at the forefront of our daily lives, its almost too easy for us to believe everything we read or see online. Of course on your online profile you are going hide the things you don't want people to know about you, and emphasis things to make yourself seem more interesting. But nobody really discuss the elephant in the room, bar Zilla when she staged a 42 day adventure across Asia, from her sofa.

For a final year university project, Zilla decided to focus on this topic:

"My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media"
Zilla Van Den Born

Before Zilla edited herself into the picture and after

After she waved goodbye to her parents at the airport she headed home, and it was then that her adventure began. Editing photos of herself in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, making Asia cuisine and setting up parts of her home to look like cafes and other places she'd apparently visited. She even had Skype chats with her family and friends, using selfmade set backdrops and even sent the odd text at awkward hours to validate her story.

Zilla in her set up cafe on Skype
Zilla Skyping in her self made cafe

She photo-shopped herself into tuk tuks, beautiful beaches, landmarks and resorts she was supposable visiting. She even went as far as 'snorkelling in the ocean' and 'visiting monks in a temple'. Both of which she did in her own city, Amsterdam.

Zilla in her fake Ocean image
Snorkelling in a pool, and after photoshop she's in the ocean

Zilla in the Buddhist temple in Amsterdam

When she 'arrived home' she filmed her family and friends reaction when she told them she had been in her house and Amsterdam all along. She's even gone as far as to create a book called 'Sjezus say, Zilla' - 'Oh God, Zilla' in English to show all her photos before and after.

Check out her Vimeo page here - she's added videos showing how she did what she did, and the reaction video is there too :)

Zilla is also a freelance graphic designer.

I think its pretty safe to say that you should always take what you see on social media with a pinch of salt. You don't have to be a professional to pull off something like this. As Zilla said herself:

"We create an online ideal world which reality can no longer match up to,"

"Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated but we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality in our own lives as well."

"A picture is perhaps one of the most layered and contradictory objects that we can see around us.

"It represents the reality, but also falsehood. It is a fact, but also an opinion. It is technology, but also an art form."

"There is a constant battle going on between the two considerations: the photographed object being as beautiful as possible and it telling the truth"

"What a picture really shows is not the exact situation as it really was, but what it represents.

"This ambiguous relationship with reality makes photography so fascinating to me. It raises questions about the representative power of pictures and reality itself."

The student even edited herself in to snaps of a group of friends
She even edited herself into a photo with people she supposedly meet on her travels

I was instantly drawn to this story as my college course is very similar to hers. I work alot with photoshop and other such apps like it. Photoshop is so powerful, it gives everyone the tool to manipulate what's actually real. Infact I could have also said 'the internet' instead of 'photoshop' above, because it really does act as a barrier between the real world and the typed up & edited world. Zilla's project was so fascinating! It really did make me realise that - "we manipulate reality in our own lives as well."

Until next time :)



Photos found on google images, all rights to the owners.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...