Existential Friday NewsletterGenerative Art

v61: Generative Art Series 4 of 13 – Magnitudes and Types of Randomness

Disorder to Order random circles p5.js

One of the more interesting aspects of generative art is creating and managing randomness. We tend to have an intuitive understanding of randomness, but magnitude and type impact the nature of it. The parallels with life are notable . . .

The computer is a simple thing and when you ask it to generate a random number it returns a decimal between zero and one. Rather than get all mathy, let’s look at a picture. The image below randomly draws circles somewhere in the gray area. The values are pretty evenly distributed across the width of the image.

Random Circles in p5.js

If you think back to your Statistics class, you might remember bell curves. We can also generate random numbers with a Normal (Gaussian) Distribution where numbers center around some value. Visually that looks like the image below.

Random Gaussian Circles p5.js

The point is that randomness comes in different flavors. Additionally, it can be managed and manipulated. It’s a little like manufacturing reality (we’ll talk about that another week as well).

The image below takes the idea of randomness and applies it to circles.  The circles move from disorder to order or if you turn it around from order to disorder.

Order and Disorder Randomly Arranged Circles p5.js

When you simplify the image and turn it sideways, it has some similarities to evolutionary pictures where you see a monkey becoming an ape and then a caveman and then an office worker.

Disorder to Order random circles p5.js

It was one of the first images I pen plotted and then I printed it to a t-shirt that unexpectedly doubled as a good Pride t-shirt.

generative art tshirt p5.js

That’s it for this week.  Go forth and embrace randomness.


This is an interesting article about how New York neighborhoods got their names.

And since we’re talking about the history of New York, you might be interested in how the Mafia has changed over time.

I guess I’ll triple down on the New York theme with this . . .

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Leave a Reply

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

thanks for the article dan!