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Creative Coding

Updated: May 12, 2020

'Creative coding is a type of computer programming in which the goal is to create something expressive instead of something functional. Programming plays a huge role in the world that surrounds us, and though its uses are often purely functional, there is a growing community of artists who use the language of code as their medium. Their work includes everything from computer generated art to elaborate interactive installations, all with the goal of expanding our sense of what is possible with digital tools. It is used to create live visuals as well as creating visual art and design, entertainment, art installations, projections and projection mapping, sound art, advertising, product prototypes, and much more.'

P5.js is one of the most popular and highly used JavaScript library which was purposefully made to be accessible and easy for designers and artists to manipulate code for making interesting visualisations.

I wanted to somehow show the intersection between the human memory and the digital memory. I started to look into data art and different ways to visualise and represent data.

I have chose this method of creative coding and the software P5.js due to its ease of access and the many free template that I could alter to suit my idea. This is software allows you to write code to create gif like visuals. I found a code template written to make a continuous line and filled in the blank spaces with statistical data about cloud memory storage - For example how much data is currently stored in cloud storage.

Statistics about Cloud Storage:

  • How many iCloud users? 678 billion

  • How much data stored in the cloud? 1024 Petabytes of data

  • 90% of companies use cloud storage for everything

  • When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage

  • 85% Of Enterprises Keep Sensitive Data in the Cloud

  • Demand for Cloud storage will grow 18% this year to $246.8 billion in total worldwide revenue from $209.2 billion

  • Forecast number of personal cloud storage consumers/users worldwide from 2014 to 2020 (in millions) - 2014 - 1136 million

- 2015 - 1329 million

- 2016 - 1561 million

- 2017 - 1754 million

- 2018 - 1926 million

- 2019 - 2111 million

- 2020 - 2309 million

  • In 2017, an estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide will be using personal cloud storage - i.e. uploading family holiday snaps, baby photos, selfies, food picture etc.

This is the data art that was produced when I fed statistics about digital memory into the Brownian Motion continuous line templated on P5.js:


  • Ever wonder how many "gigabytes" your brain could store if it were a computer? Scientists estimate that the answer would be equivalent to up to 2.5 million gigabytes of storage!

  • That compares to the biggest hard drive to date—that is only 10,000 gigabytes. Not even a supercomputer comes slightly close to the capacity of the human brain.

  • Unless interested in a topic, most adults have an attention span of 20 minutes. Researchers estimate that the adult attention span has decreased by about 12 minutes in the past decade. It seems that our fast-paced lives and full reliance on technology has taken its toll.

  • Short-term memory can hold up to 7 pieces of information at the same time... But only for around 20 seconds

  • According to a study conducted in 2001, left-handed people have better memories. This is because the corpus callosum (the white matter in the brain) in lefties is larger than that of right-handed people.

  • Most memories adults have come from when we were between 15 and 25 years old. The "reminiscence bump" which is the tendency for older adults to remember events that occurred during their adolescent and early adult years, can account for 60% of all memories.

  • It is possible to erase bad memories. Studies suggest that beta-blocker drugs interfere with the recollection of memories, especially, strong emotional memories related to trauma. Beta-blockers are prescribed to treat disorders like high blood pressure, migraines, angina and various heart problems. But, it may be that magical pill used to erase those terrible memories.

  • Over the course of a lifetime, scientists estimate that the modern human brain will hold up to 1 quadrillion/1,000,000,000,000,000 pieces of information.

  • You have an average of 70,000 thoughts in a day. Not to think that the brain shuts down while sleeping, dreaming takes more brain activity than any waking function.

  • Visual memory of eye-witnesses is notoriously inaccurate. Of 235 wrongful convictions in the United States, 75% were a result of an unreliable eyewitness.

  • The brain's hippocampus plays a significant role in transforming short-term memories into long-term ones. It is a small horseshoe-shaped area in the brain, present symmetrically on both sides of the brain. It declines with time and by the age of 80, 20% of its nerve connections can be lost. If one side of the hippocampus is damaged, it won't affect memory at all. However, damages to both sides will stop the storage of any new memories!

  • With 86 billion neurons, 400 miles of capillaries, 100 thousand miles of axons (enough to circle the earth 4 times), more than 10 trillion synapses, the human brain is truly a fascinating organ.

  • About 40% of people aged 65 or older have age associated memory impairment—in the United States, about 16 million people. Only about 1% of them will progress to dementia each year.

  • About 10% of people aged 65 years or older have mild cognitive impairment, and nearly 15% of them develop Alzheimer's disease each year.

This is the data art that was produced when I fed statistics about Human memory into the Brownian Motion continuous line templated on P5.js:

An Introduction to Brownian Motion

By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Brownian motion is the random movement of particles in a fluid due to their collisions with other atoms or molecules. Brownian motion is also known as pedesis, which comes from the Greek word for "leaping." Even though a particle may be large compared to the size of atoms and molecules in the surrounding medium, it can be moved by the impact with many tiny, fast-moving masses. Brownian motion may be considered a macroscopic (visible) picture of a particle influenced by many microscopic random effects.

Brownian motion takes its name from the Scottish botanist Robert Brown, who observed pollen grains moving randomly in water. He described the motion in 1827 but was unable to explain it. While pedesis takes its name from Brown, he was not the first person to describe it. The Roman poet Lucretius describes the motion of dust particles around the year 60 B.C., which he used as evidence of atoms.

The transport phenomenon remained unexplained until 1905 when Albert Einstein published a paper that explained the pollen was being moved by the water molecules in the liquid. As with Lucretius, Einstein's explanation served as indirect evidence of the existence of atoms and molecules. At the turn of the 20th century, the existence of such tiny units of matter was only a theory. In 1908, Jean Perrin experimentally verified Einstein's hypothesis, which earned Perrin the 1926 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his work on the discontinuous structure of matter."

The mathematical description of Brownian motion is a relatively simple probability calculation, of importance not just in physics and chemistry, but also to describe other statistical phenomena. The first person to propose a mathematical model for Brownian motion was Thorvald N. Thiele in a paper on the least squares method that was published in 1880. A modern model is the Wiener process, named in honor of Norbert Wiener, who described the function of a continuous-time stochastic process. Brownian motion is considered a Gaussian process and a Markov process with continuous path occurring over continuous time.

What Is Brownian Motion?

Because the movements of atoms and molecules in a liquid and gas is random, over time, larger particles will disperse evenly throughout the medium. If there are two adjacent regions of matter and region A contains twice as many particles as region B, the probability that a particle will leave region A to enter region B is twice as high as the probability a particle will leave region B to enter A. Diffusion, the movement of particles from a region of higher to lower concentration, can be considered a macroscopic example of Brownian motion.

Any factor that affects the movement of particles in a fluid impacts the rate of Brownian motion. For example, increased temperature, increased number of particles, small particle size, and low viscosity increase the rate of motion.

Brownian Motion Examples

Most examples of Brownian motion are transport processes that are affected by larger currents, yet also exhibit pedesis.

Examples include:

  • The motion of pollen grains on still water

  • Movement of dust motes in a room (although largely affected by air currents)

  • Diffusion of pollutants in the air

  • Diffusion of calcium through bones

  • Movement of "holes" of electrical charge in semiconductors

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