Working with Random Noise and Random Gaussian in p5

Working with ‘random walks’ in my ‘Nature of Code’ class, I found myself singing Walk it out, the Remix with Andre 30001.

Following this inspiration my first idea is to make a ‘random walk it out’ environment, in which users can experience-interact with(?) both the random walk and the walk it out.

I began by recreating the in-class activity in which we learned about noise (from Perlin Noise), gaussian randomness, and randomSeed. It looked to me like a visualization of audio, so I am going to try and have p5 read in some data about the ‘Walk it Out’ song and set the line of rectangles to visualize or dance with the song in some way.

The Great Distraction

…And then my roommate came home. And we started talking, which was wonderful, and would prove to be the end of me working on the walk it out audio visualizer idea. But I did start to put that page together which you can see here

The Walk Tests from NYU Physical Therapy School

My roommate is a graduate student in the Department of Physical Therapy at NYU Steinhardt. She’s dope. Her first name is Jael. Their family is dope. Their last name is Mccants. On this particular evening I already had ‘walking’ on my mind, and with my brain still transitioning out of programming mode, it instantly connected to a story they were telling me about a series of tests that their physical therapy school class had been doing that day.

And so I began trying to to translate, or re-interprate, or reinterpolate?

this series of ‘walking tests’ into the programmatic paradigm of a ‘random walk,’ in collaboration with Andre 3000’s verse from ‘Walk it Out.’

[su_box title=”Spoiler Alert” style=”noise”]below are notes and some building blocks for this wonderful idea of a project. But in the end I will make another turn before starting what will become my final project[/su_box]

Project Idea:

Build ‘animated’ demonstrations of tests commonly used (demonstrating a need for good instructional tools) in the field of Physical Therapy. A project by Jael Mccants and Daniel Silber-Baker

Beginning Connections and Assumptions.

There are 6 members in a flock- this is both what each group of students that are doing the walking exercises together is called by the school of physical therapy and the physics-programming concept of flocks (is this true?)

There is a stopwatch- Because as my roommate said ‘all you need is a stopwatch.’


1) Using physics programming, create a flock, representative of this group of physical therapy students, and a digital environment for them to perform the tests in that is analogous to the real world environment which the test will be taken in, for demonstrative purposes.

Some notes I took from Jael about next steps-

‘think about taking it another step and bring phasing into it. So thank about me as the metronome Im like pick up the pace. The lag time between them understanding what I said and then matching pace with me is kind of an interesting thing to visualize. Because I think rhythmically walking is you know, even though everyone was choosing what we wanted to do, we were walking rhythmically which makes sense to me in the group because …these are the things I care about. I also think there is a rhythm component to and agility. And coordination. ‘

Overview of The Walking Tests


1 mile walk test

(How fast can you walk a mile)

They did it in 12 minutes

Average-healthy according to my roommate:


1.5 mile run test

(How fast can you run 1.5 mile)

Average-healthy according to my roommate:

12 minute walk test

(How far you can walk in 12 minutes)

Average-healthy according to my roommate:

The Hexagon Test

The hexagon test-for agility-which is how can you change directions (where as speed is how fast you can go)

( set out the hexagons and have a light or shape go through
first each of them
and then a random series of each of them.)

The (somewhat) early catch

I have a habit of building out complex ideas and then starting them with far too little time to complete in a way that feels satisfactory. I realized that the physical therapy visualizations fall into the category discussed above, and am putting that project on hold until I have developed my programming skills further, which I hope to do this semester in Nature of Code.

Team NOC HW #1 The vitruvian body electric-almost to the project I ended up doing for this weeks assignment.

As I was playing around with the different random functions from week one of class, I first was seeing the sketches as music visualizations (which I think they are certainly well suited for), but somewhere in the process I began to connect with the products of my programs as visualized symbols of a human body. My body I think.

Following this thread I began to mock up a ‘vitruvian body electric,’ using da Vanci’s Vitruvian Man as a guide. As imagined in my head, I would somehow transpose the vitruvian figure, using da Vinci’s precise calculations (where these calculations correct?) over or into a responsive grid for web design. So the idea would be to set up a grid in the proportions of the vitruvian man, and then create a ‘body’ with different programmatic sketches using the physics and random methods we are learning in class.

The calculations for bringing together the dimensions of the vitruvian man and the bootstrap style 12-column responsive grid is turning out to be a longer challenge then this one week project may allow, but I want to to keep the idea and hopefully iterate on it moving forward. In honor and in setting accountability to that desire of my vision for the project, I am going to try and use the vitruvian figure itself as a sort of live guide for both me in developing the sketch, and for the users in engaging with it. I am thinking about adding it as an initially non-visible element, which can be activated by user actions, either click or hover, or something more mysterious and surprising.

The switch-why stop at the body-the project turns to a reality making machine

I am sure once we understand how to visualize time, in its natural form, it will look a lot like us. The way we are shaped like hills and trees. And everything is the shape of the universe. In working with the random functions in p5 I started to see the sketches as visualizations, readings almost, for the relationships between us, the world, and time. I began to imagine the sketch blocks as live renderings on a dashboard, that was hooked up to a model of the relationship between a person and the world.

In trying to shape the project I isolated a few different sketches created using the random functions in p5, and developed them separately using a codepen.

See the Pen Nature of Code #1 Noise and Pi by Daniel Silber-Baker (@Daniel_Silber-Baker) on CodePen.

As I was developing them individually on codepen, I began to write little bits of poetry with each one, and in the process of their development and my poetry, each took a different form that would come together to make up a complete ‘portrait.’ The portrait, and the poetry as a part of it, is in an going demonstration model of the relationship between people and the world, over time. Each elements involved in the portrait leaves its mark in different ways, which come together to complete the entire portrait. This is meant to be analogous and representative of the development of humans and human history over time. The Portrait, is different each time and at each point. You can watch and or interact with its development to limiting degrees. I hope to build out these interactions, and the ability to intervene in the creation of the portrait more moving forward. My hope would be able to eventually have a working model of this process of the development of human history over time, which could be used a site of discussion and overcoming of problems related to the course of human events. And to make beautifully, generative, living portraits of our relationship to and within the world.

After developing the individual pieces on codepen I sketched out a quick grid to create a framework to build the project in, and then made it digitally using materialize.css

And then inserted the codepen parts in their corresponding grid container. I would really like to style the poems more, as I think there are many ways to connect the entire piece together through visual relationships between the elements, including the words of the poems.

You can see project here


  1. or maybe a series of songs visualized like this that have the word ‘walk’ in it (this is of course also the best rainy day group game-or good one-or one that is done a lot and has a lot to be built upon-omg- this iswhat I want to draw upon the parallel of these building upon processes of activities for camps and groups and schools and offices and people in groups and such.- walk it out- I want you Marian Hill