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Photoshop tennis and SITO's PANIC

A comparison between the phenomenon of Photoshop tennis and SITO's PANIC. For what it's worth.

What is Photoshop tennis?

According to Wikipedia (at the time of this writing, anyway!), Photoshop tennis is a game played on computers where:
The players pick a starting image, then one player makes some sort of alteration to the image in any graphics manipulation package that they like. They then send their altered image, usually via email, though posting the image to a Photoshop tennis forum is another possibility, to the other player, who then edits that image and sends it back to the first player.

[Photoshop tennis entry]


According to several sources, including an article on, the inventor of Photoshop tennis was Jim Coudal, who created the game in 2001.

SITO began dabbling in something very similar to Photoshop tennis way back in January 1994. It was (and still is) known as PANIC. At its fundamental level, play transpires exactly as is described in the Wikipedia excerpt above: players start with an original/base image, and take turns manipulating it in subsequent "volleys". Like Photoshop tennis, more than two players can be involved (in the case of PANIC, this was common), however, unlike Photoshop tennis, there is no (formal) competition or judging of final outcomes. Typical, though, players would discuss (via IRC) the progress of each session and their results.

One of the first public announcements for PANIC can be seen in this Feb. 11, 1994 Usenet post.

PANIC continues to this day, albeit in a very casual manner and in the shadow of more popular Synergy projects, such as Gridcosm.


SITO has no desire to try to claim inventing Photoshop tennis. We merely want to point out our earlier, similar experimentations with collaborative image games in hopes of adding to the recorded history of electronic art. We know that art, and the countless methods of its creation, are all part of a continuous timeline. SITO has always acknowledged that our collaborative projects build upon numerous ideas before us: exquisite corpse, cut-up, collage, dada, etc. We look forward to each new development in software and technology that allows artists to work, play, and create with one another.

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