Emerging digital and telecommunication technologies
are redefining fundamental concepts in our culture.
Ideas of time, space, and community will have a
different meaning from now on.
We will belong to different types of tribes in the
future, and some of them will be unlike anything we've
ever experienced before.
The tribe that we call the Web has yet to reveal its
ultimate shape and dimension. But what intrigues me about
this community is not so much how different it is from my
own physical neighborhood, but rather how similar they are.
People bring to the Web the same needs, the same thought
patterns, the same questions that one finds in any tribe:
Testimonies of faith, questions about god, the meaning of
dreams, sex and commerce, a longing for home.
This is very good news for artists, because it means there's
work for us here. The tribe needs us.
The fact that the Web is terribly thin on content, and riddled
with horrible design, shouldn't be discouraging. It means that
those of us who have arrived early have an amazing opportunity
to actually construct this new territory.
I'm perfectly aware that the Web may follow the same trajectory
as television, and may ultimately cater to the same brain-dead
demographic midrange. But I believe there are alternatives to
this, and that artists can potentially be key players in pre-
venting such an evolution.
We can accomplish this by creating content-rich work that con-
tinues to articulate basic human concerns; which is, of course,
what artists have always done.
But we need to learn to speak differently. The answer lies in
shedding old baggage like the art as object bias, and replacing
it with something like the idea of art as signal.
The Web is characterized by experiences that are transitory,
multi-layered, non-linear, and immaterial. This is the language
that the tribes of the Web speak. And for the Web artists of the
future, it will be their native tongue.