How to build a Wall, pixel by pixel

IIIT Hyderabad’s Art Society has traded in their easels for a mouse at Felicity 2021 to create The Wall – 250,000 pixels. 320 digital artists. One canvas.

Gone are the days when Graffiti was a can of paint and an empty brick wall! Breathtaking wall murals on the verdant IIIT campus have become a much anticipated feature of Felicity, a tradition that has been handed down by successive batches of students. “Last year, we had painted a record number of wall murals”, said Jivitesh Jain, one of the organisers. “We didn’t want this culture to die due to an online semester. That led to the birth of this event. The Wall is the flagship event of the Art society and when Felicity went online this year, so did we. Each pixel is placed manually and carries the artist’s signature. We are separated by geography, but we found a way to still carry on with our art.”

Curated by the Art Society, the Programming Club and Felicity 2021 organisers, the art event was inspired by r/place, a worldwide internet experiment by Reddit. In the first week itself, over 300 users had placed over 160,000 pixels. A user can only place a pixel every 2 seconds. These restrictions are intended to make way for collaborative expression to create something unique. The team, comprising of 4 coordinators, a core team and an advisory panel, started the back end work a month earlier. “We set up a Discord server for discussions and to connect to other art aficionados, as well as to put together content moderation guidelines and the marketing strategy. We started on 14 February and we plan to run it through Felicity 2021”, explained Jivitesh.

How they made Elon Musk blush
“We wanted The Wall to be a representation of what people believe in, what excites them and to be able to express that”, said an organiser. “The community is doing a great job because people are coming together and building it collectively. For instance, somebody built Elon Musk. Another added the Mars logo and the third responded to the moment by adding the blush!”

It is a regular Geek-Fest meets Comic-Con on a digital canvas. The wall feels like the representation of an Otaku’s room, covering entire pantheons of fandoms, ranging from anime references like Full metal alchemist, Pokémon, Naruto, to Avengers and Star Wars. It even features Van Gogh’s Starry Night, amongst other famous masterpieces, but with a quirky twist. “These are living pieces of art, constantly changing as more people contribute their ideas. It is a very good representation of IIIT’s collective creative spirit. We plan to print this on tee-shirts and posters eventually”, said Jivitesh.

Unlocking the secret to Felicity
Felicity, the annual techno-cultural fest of IIIT is a 3-day event organised at the tail end of the Hyderabad winter, in the month of February. The inter-collegiate fest features a smorgasbord of technical events, coding competitions and cultural performances. The epicentre of the action is the Felicity grounds on campus that comes alive with lights, screens and a variety of techno bling. This year, the College Fest, in its online avatar, features a watercolor workshop hosted by a popular Instagram Influencer as well as 3 stand-up comedy acts along with a series of musical programs, quizzes, literary events and talks.

Origami and everything else artsy
“When we were on campus, the art society would host regular events and workshops. When we moved online, we organised events like Inktober, Origami workshops and casual events like Game Nights at 11, where we play Pictionary”. Traditionally, Origami workshops have a huge turnout on campus. It would start with the popular swan and move towards complicated constructions, including an origami model of a character from Among Us, an online multiplayer game that became popular during the pandemic. Reminisce is another event on the Art anvil, that should be launched shortly.

Where everybody knows your name
“We have a tight-knit community and I know every person who has built every pixel here. We know people who are experts in their field and know whom to ask, for a code or technology. This is true across batches and it is one of IIITH’s strong suits. As engineering students, a lot of the time, we apply science to work heuristically to see what fits. That’s the same with art. At a basic level, we are using engineering to create art,” muses Jivitesh.

Jivitesh Jain,  Jyoti Sunkara, Fiza Husain, Shivaan Sehgal

Dinesh Garg, Palash Sharma, Sahithi Reddy, Saravanan Senthil, Rohan Lahane, Vaibhaw Kumar, Rhuthik, Kunwar Shaanjeet Singh Grover, Yoogottam Khandelwal

Deepa Shailendra is a freelance writer for interior design publications; an irreverent blogger, consultant editor and author of two coffee table books. A social entrepreneur who believes that we are the harbingers of the transformation and can bring the change to better our world.



  1. I love Deepa’s inimitable style. Informative, warm, and very real. Her writing transports me seamlessly into the lives of people she describes so effortlessly. There’s enjoyment in every line, every paragraph and every piece she pens.

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