rite of access, a showroom filled with downloadable digital art, opens at art center Stroom Den Haag. rite of access is initiated by left gallery, an online platform that produces and sells digital art. In response to the invitation by Stroom, this virtual platform will take residence in the physical space of an art institution in order to radically shake up current ideas about access to art.
left gallery stems from the net.art movement of the ‘90s, using the Internet as its main medium in order to advocate that access to art and media should not be restricted, but free for all. The gallery is one of the frontrunners in the use of bitcoin and blockchain technology to produce and to sell art works. In 2015 Event Listeners, a piece by co-founder Harm van den Dorpel was bought with bitcoin by the Museum for Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna. This was the world's first recorded transaction in which a work of art was purchased by a museum using a cryptocurrency.
App Store meets Contemporary Arts Center
With rite of access left gallery investigates the accessibility of public art by imposing certain conditions on its visitors. Although the access to the physical space of Stroom is free, the digital works will only be activated when they are purchased. The works vary from a flight simulator and screensavers to apps and VR; the prices vary from €1 to €1000.
Within rite or access 'soft transactions' are also possible to temporarily unlock the works, such as ‘liking' left gallery on Facebook, or signing up for the newsletter. In that sense rite of access works as a physical paywall: it applies the revenue models of contemporary media to contemporary art.