Oh my Gosh, Zilla

A social experiment to reveal how social media filters reality

We get to see a large flow of images daily which allows us to get to know the rest of the world from our living room. But Images made in the advertising world or posted on social media are often filtered and exaggerated. This creates expectations, so I asked myself:

“Can reality still meet with this ideal picture in our head?”

I decided to go on a 5 week long trip to Southeast Asia. At least that is what I let my family, friends, classmates, teachers and even my parents believe. Because in reality I stayed home and created an illusion of myself travelling through the use of digital manipulation & photoshop.

– Mom and Dad… I’m sorry
– Grandma, for delivering the title of this project with your first reaction to the unveiling
– Photographer Daniel J. Ashes, for helping me create some “holiday” photos in his studio

Marketed reality
Images made in the advertising world are often exaggerated. Even though we all know this, it doesn’t stop us from dreaming of these picture perfect places.  The risk is that those purified photos represent what we think is real. This creates certain expectations..


Real reality
Arriving at a travel destination can turn into a big disappointment, because the images we got to see online do not match with the here and now.  I asked myself: can reality still meet with this ideal picture in our head?



Presented  reality
On social media we want to present ourselves as positive possible, so we filter what we think is worth showing. Bad weather, other tourists or boring moments are therefore not included. Our snapshots are often treated with apps and filters to make them more appealing before showing them to the rest of the world.

Fake reality
Everyone can be the designer of their own digital identity:  social media are a representation of real life, but in a distorted ideal way. I decided I wanted to show the people around me firsthand how careful you have to be in believing what you see…


My generation is one of the first that has been raised with computer programs, editing software and the internet as an indispensable part of our daily lives. These technological developments, in which the possibilities of reproduction and recombination are endless, ensure that photography is increasingly more distanced from reality.

The short videos I made are all played chronologically backwards. They start with one of my fake holiday photos and next reveal how I fooled the situation.
* Exhibited at the ‘International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam’ *

Typical Thailand
Turns out that we have one Bhuddistic temple in the Netherlands. Somewhere hidden in a rebuilt garage, I found a group of monks and a display of relic statuettes. The perfect environment for one of my ‘holiday photos’.

Making Friends
Travelling alone means meeting new people along the way, so I needed to come up with some imaginary friends.  To do this I borrowed the holiday photos of a random girl blogger who travelled to Asia. I gave her a new name and let her tag me in one of her photos. I even had a conversation with ‘myself’ in the comments underneath it!

Funnily Facebook caught me in my cheating when I tried to add many  “friends” at once, but when I found a way to  bypass the authentication,  I managed to get accepted by more then 150 people within a day.   Strange how easily they wanted to connect with a person that does not even exist .