The Web wasn't envisioned as an artistic medium.

But then, neither was photography, film, or video.

The Niepce brothers, who are credited with creating

the first photograph, didn't set out to make art.

They were trying to sell more newspapers. Daguerre,

another pioneer in photography, wasn't looking for

salvation; he was trying to make a buck. Edweard

Muybridge's early experiments in film were motivated

by scientific inquiry, not by aesthetic contemplation.

Many of the new artistic media of the last 150 years

have their roots in industry and capitalism. Although

it may not appeal to many artists working in these media,

the truth is that they are all disciples of the techno-

cratic machine aesthetic. It's just that the romantics

and the visionaries fell in behind the industrial apparatus

and bent these media to purposes for which they were not

originally intended.

There are some uncanny parallels in the development of the

Web, except that there's the added intrigue of its genesis

in the military warfare culture.

But just as photography, film, and video were eventually

embraced by artists as new expressive languages, artists may

discover that the Web provides them with new ways of speaking

and new audiences.

This will prove particularly valuable for artists interested

in appropriating the languages of popular culture. After all,

that's what photography, film, video, and now electronic art

all share in common; the fact that these languages are part of

everyday discourse for practically every member of the tribe.

And this relationship to the culture at large is also what

separates these media from the more traditional practices of

painting and sculpture, which have more elitist pretensions

and engage a dwindling constituency.