The r/place subreddit is open again and users have started filling the canvas in minutes. A large-scale experiment in the field of social art, which first appeared more than five years ago, has finally returned.
In 2017, Reddit launched a massive experiment in social art called r/place with an unprecedented form of user collaboration. Since then, no news has appeared, but now it has finally reopened.
The r/place subreddit is a community on Reddit where anyone registered on the site gets access to a huge shared canvas and can place one tiny square on it every five minutes. In its initial incarnation, r/place was a huge success, attracting a huge number of participants who created their own subreddits to coordinate collaborative work on works of art. Just like the first time, rediscovery leads to the opening of communities for countries, streamers, fans of certain games and much more. Everyone is trying to portray themselves on the canvas before the show closes again.
The opening of r/place will last only until April 4, 2022, after which it will be closed at an unspecified time of day. Despite the uncertainty about the future, the participants of r/place still create impressive joint works of art, representing their favorite communities with ephemeral pixels on a joint canvas. Since the project is open to everyone, it is also quickly filled with links to memes. Each small part of the canvas represents several hundred or more people working together to keep their place.
Unfortunately, trolls come with great popularity; one streamer with a large number of fans can arm his fans and destroy the entire territory in seconds. There are complaints about this behavior in the subreddit, but the nature of the project means that such tactics are not prohibited. While there may be protections in future iterations, the imminent end of this one means there probably won’t be any changes this time. Fortunately, despite this problem, most of the canvas remains intact, and there are still communities struggling to preserve their parts.
The r/place subreddit is an interesting combination of elements; it works as an art project of mass collaboration, a snapshot of the Internet during its existence and a surprisingly tactical real-time struggle to keep space intact, almost like a real-time strategy game. Once the community’s claim is at stake, it becomes a challenge to keep everyone there and overwrite the attackers seeking to erase the hard work. However, r/place doesn’t open often, so the decision to ruin someone else’s work instead of creating something memorable is a disappointing choice.