Artist sheds light on colorful Dutch Google Earth censorship

Dutch Google Earth censorship

For the most part, the Web has become a place where artists of all types and skill level can share their creations with the masses. But for Dutch artist Mishka Henner, the Web is not just a tool, but the source and subject in one.

Henner discovered that the government of the Netherlands censored hundreds sites on Google Earth — places like palaces, military sites, NATO storage facilities, and other locations deemed vulnerable — with oddly colorful, amorphous geometric shapes. This technique differs greatly from how other countries censor Google Earth satellite images. In the US, for instance, our government generally blurs the images, and makes it impossible to zoom in to see any detail. The Dutch take a far more aesthetically interesting approach.

“The Dutch method of censorship is notable for its stylistic inventiveness compared to other countries: imposing bold, multi-coloured polygons over sites rather than the subtler and more standard techniques employed elsewhere,” writes Henner in an intro to his Web book. “The result is a landscape occasionally punctuated by sharp aesthetic contrasts between secret sites and the rural and urban environments surrounding them.”

As a comment on the Dutch way of doing things, Henner has created a book (viewable for free here), which juxtaposes the censored images with other satellite photographs of the Netherlands’ stunning natural and man-made landscape.

“Seen from the distant gaze of Earth’s orbiting satellites, the result is a landscape unlike any other; one in which polygons recently imposed on the landscape to protect the country from an imagined human menace bear more than a passing resemblance to a physical landscape designed to combat a very real and constant natural threat,” writes Henner.

Below are a few of the censored Google Earth images. Please note: These are not artistic renderings by Henner; this is just how the Dutch censor things. Enjoy.

Dutch Google Earth censorship 2
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Dutch Google Earth censorship
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(via Granta)