Humanities Week: Instagram Puzzle

For IHGC’s Humanities Week 2019, Puzzle Poesis presented Square by Square by Square, a riddling performance in seriality. Over five days colored squares were posted manually to Instagram, flooding the feeds of our followers. These 826 individual posts were periodically accompanied by teasing hints. Our Instagram followers were invited to solve the riddle, explaining both the hints and the meaning of the aggregate image. The performance concluded on April 5th.

We devised the following method to produce our posts: we resampled a full-resolution image into four lower resolution versions, including 27x27 pixels, 9x9, 3x3, and 1x1. The resampled images were posted from lowest pixel count to highest, separated by the upcoming image’s constituent pixels in sequence (e.g. nine pixels were posted prior to the posting of the 9x9 image, starting with “one” from the top left, proceeding through “nine” from the bottom right). The 27x27 version was the final post, and the first recognizable representation of the empuzzled answer.

Our social media neck riddle was solved by Josy Raheem (@grendelsgf) on the second day of the event. Raheem figured out that constituent posts comprised an enigmatically pixellated image of the sheepish face that Mark Zuckerberg wore for questioning during his Congressional testimony.

Hints contributed by Jason Bennett, Claire Burke, Neal Curtis, Julie Gronlund, Brad Pasanek, Tim Schott, and Claire Raymond.