R/place May Be The Most Fascinating Place On The Internet Right Now
While Google was busy doing its yearly April Fools video and Maps gag Reddit was off creating possibly the most fascinating experiment in Democratic art creation we’ve seen on the internet to date.
r/place was started on the 1st of April and it works on a simple premise. Every 5 minutes you can place a single pixel of any one of 16 colours. The canvas started out almost completely empty, but quickly filled with hazes of colour and eventually images.
The subreddit quickly started to create factions among it’s 179,000 subscribers, and the early groups were based around crude easy concepts, such as Blue Corner and Red Corner. Simple colour filling to create dominance. New subreddits were created to concert efforts around singular goals. r/ainbowroad is one of the most dominant forces in that regard, and when you read the sub you get the impression of a cartel or imperial overlord, a fact that isn’t lost on the group.
A post choked with anxiety cries out about their fade from dominance. “We’re being attacked everywhere and in many places the road is not a road anymore because it has been overlaid with flags, random figures and logos.” says u/MarkZist “I’m really unhappy with the amount of territory we’re ceding to every random user who asks if he can just have a tiny bit of the road. (Or doesn’t ask and just goes ahead.) I mean come, on, we fought for that land and created something beautiful, and now we’re just giving it all away. Unless it’s something cool like the Mona Lisa or Van Gogh, I suggest we tell them to try their luck elsewhere.”
There’s also The Void, a group who’s spreading spider tendrils of black through the settled lands of art. Nothing can compete with entropy.
The Trans flag was a group that had a bit of controversy as well, in the brief history of r/place. 4chan hijacked the concept to run the flag over other existing pieces of art, in an attempt to breed conflict between the Transflag group with other creators.
OSU! is another faction which has caused major grievances. Centered around an anime rhythm game community It’s a large pink logo, that a fair proportion of community members would like to remove. A time lapse has shown various attacks and waves of support. It’s amazing to see when you consider each one of those dots represents five minutes of human time.
People supporting various pieces of art have begun working with their neighbours to keep the neighbourhood clean, even advising each other on incoming attacks from more ambitious warlike art.
What we’re witnessing is the most perfect illustration of democracy we’ll ever see. We all have limited voting power, but groups that are large enough can build something amazing. Simple concepts flourish, intricate ones are harder to get started but when they reach completion become institutionalised. But above all, popularity wins. You’re lucky to find much original art in there, as the entire 999×999 canvas is full of memes, flags and logos of various subreddits.
I personally can’t wait to see how the community develops. Will people eventually form a massive united nations eutopia? Will any one piece of art be maintained?