An American artist who imagined in a video the Arc de Triomphe redecorated in LGBT colors, creating controversy among Internet users who believed this real installation, estimated on Saturday that “we are ill-prepared as a society” for manipulation by the ‘picture. The video, posted to Twitter and Instagram on Thursday, shows the famous monument on Place de l’Etoile in Paris enclosed by the installation of a giant rainbow, and at the end a “March of Pride” sign.

But this installation only exists on video: it was designed virtually by Ian Padgham, an artist who plasters imaginary forms on videos that he mainly shoots in big cities.

Some believed that the Arc de Triomphe had really been redecorated, and denounced a militant reappropriation of a monument dedicated to French soldiers. This did not surprise the 41-year-old artist, interviewed by AFP. “I’m always amazed at the number of people who take my videos for reality. When I did one with the Louvre pyramid opening to let balloons escape, even Parisians thought it was real,” he explained.

“It’s a good example of how ill-prepared we are as a society. Maybe as homo sapiens we are not designed to see things that look real but can’t be real,” added the Bordeaux-based American.

Ian Padgham is used to critical commentary on his art, having worked at Twitter himself until a decade ago, before becoming a freelance video creator. “The goal of my work is not to fool people,” said this admirer of the surrealists. His videos, like those of a Bordeaux tramway in the shape of a wine bottle, do not resist a sharp critical mind for long. But given the credulity of people, he lamented, “it would be so easy to produce flammable content, which would provoke violence and hatred”.

The Paris Pride March is scheduled for June 24. For Ian Padgham, originally from San Francisco, the city where Gay Pride was born, “the video is an attempt to show the importance of love, understanding and support. But I was more worried about offending people in the [LGBT] community, rather than the far right.”