Strange Loop

Aesthetic Engine 2

On the user-facing web, data interpretation is defined by well-known rules. Semantics of data are defined by the system's creators. Rendering is the end result of the two. But what if?

Clicking a link initiates a deluge of data, yet we as users remain mostly unaware of this process. Aesthetic Engine 2 ( is an application which encodes an alternative interpretation of web data, and implements an opinionated, artistic rendering of it. It is an atypical web browser, but also a sculpture. It is open-source and available on GitHub:

I wrote an in-depth article describing the road from conception to final release here: I'll be using it as the basis of the talk but I'd like to expand on it a bit.

I'll give an overview of the thought process of creating AE2, with an occasional detour into technical details of the implementation (ClojureScript / WebGL). A critique of the widely-accepted "generalize everything" approach when writing software will be presented, as well as a case for writing your own tools and not blindly sticking to one language/platform/paradigm.

I'd like to close the talk with a discussion on the semantics of data visualization in the "Big Data" era (or "The Big Confusion", if you ask me), and about using stochastic, humane visualization instead of graphs and pie charts. Painting vs. geometry, poetry vs. technical manual.

Vladimir Mitrovic

Vladimir Mitrovic


Software engineer and computational designer from Belgrade. Started with graphics on Commodore 64 and hit it off from there. Made games, backend systems, netcode, and mobile apps for almost 20 years. Drew graffiti on trains. Lately focusing on data art and visualization with Clojure and C++. Obeys the Algorithm.