Place: crowd pixel art

In April 2017, an intriguing story unfolded on Reddit. For April Fool's Day, they conducted a small experiment: create a blank canvas for users to edit anonymously, named Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose a pixel from a palette of 16 colors and place it anywhere on the canvas. They could use any colors they liked, but had to wait 5 minutes before placing the next pixel.

After 72 hours, the outcome was astonishing. A collaborative piece of art that even surprised its creators. From a blank canvas and simple rules emerged this:

Evolution of /r/place

Every pixel you see was placed by hand. Each icon, each flag, each meme was meticulously created by over a million people.

I discovered Place when it was almost over. A fantastic post by sudoscript tells its complete story.

The experiment began without any announcement, and users started placing pixels randomly, just to see what they could do. Within minutes, the first drawings appeared on Place. They were quite basic:

First portrait created in /r/Place

But working alone, one could only place a pixel every 5 minutes. Creating something complex would take too much time, and someone came up with the idea of using a grid for collaborative drawing, starting with an innocent Dickbutt.

From there, the community began to coordinate for more complex creations, and drawings started to appear rapidly:

The beginnings of Place

Over the next three days, various factions formed, teams with specific goals, battles for canvas dominance, coordination between different projects…

The Void attacking the US flag

For example, a group from 4chan called The Void attempted to fill the map with black pixels.

Here's the final image. Clicking on it takes you to an atlas explaining each part of the artwork:

The end of Place

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