The craziest art project in internet history

What happens when 10m+ people paint on the same page at the same time?

The premise is simple: simultaneously give everyone on the internet access to the same white canvas on which each user can color a single pixel every 5 minutes.

“Individually you can create something, but together you can create something more,” reads a description for r/place, the April Fools’ Day social experiment Reddit first ran in 2017.

That year, 1m+ redditors placed ~16m tiles. Chaotic, a sh*t show, some may even call it, but beautifully mesmerizing all the same.

Last week, they did it again. And wow.

Engagement on the project was, well, high. Over 4 days:

  • 10.4m+ people placed a tile
  • 160m+ tiles were placed
  • 4B minutes were spent in the group

People from 236 countries and territories participated, with the US, Turkey, and France having the most users placing tiles.

How did it work?

As you can imagine, give millions of people the creative freedom to paint a canvas and some interesting things will happen.

Strategies developed. Rival factions formed. Territorial battles were won and lost. Check out this recap to see how things unfolded.

One notable event: The so-called Spanish-French War of r/place, which saw a Spanish streamer promise fans of K-pop boy band BTS that he would help the “Butter” music video hit 1B views if they helped him overrun the French flag.

Other interesting tidbits included Canada’s struggle to maintain its maple leaf, a Rembrandt, and hidden “Among Us” figures.

What happens now?

Reddit concluded the project by restricting everyone to white tiles, effectively having users erase the canvas.

Afterward, a timelapse of the canvas was released, and the community built an interactive atlas detailing even the smallest features.

The project could well be the most collaborative artwork in history, and represents the internet’s power to bridge millions of people from all corners of the web.

Of course, crazy busy art would be pointless without Waldo. Go find him.

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