Dutch apply artistic censorship to satellite images-Mishka Henner

May 5, 2012

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: I discovered the work of Dutch artist Mishka Henner from his new book showing artistic govt censorship of Google’s satellite images. However, several other of his books in the sidebar are also quite exciting on the censorship frontline: 51 Military Outposts which contains public domain images and Less Americains which censors out Yanquis from artistic images, are just two examples. Move alon g—nothing to see here…]

Dutch Landscapes

Mishka Henner


When Google introduced its free satellite imagery service to the world in 2005, views of our planet only previously accessible to astronauts and surveyors were suddenly available to anyone with an internet connection. Yet the vistas revealed by this technology were not universally embraced.

Governments concerned about the sudden visibility of political, economic and military locations exerted considerable influence on suppliers of this imagery to censor sites deemed vital to national security. This form of censorship continues today and techniques vary from country to country with preferred methods generally including use of cloning, blurring, pixelization, and whitening out sites of interest.

Surprisingly, one of the most vociferous of all governments to enforce this form of censorship were the Dutch, hiding hundreds of significant sites including royal palaces, fuel depots and army barracks throughout their relatively small country. The Dutch method of censorship is notable for its stylistic intervention compared to other countries; imposing bold, multi-coloured polygons over sites rather than the subtler and more standard techniques employed in other countries. The result is a landscape occasionally punctuated by sharp aesthetic contrasts between secret sites and the rural and urban environments surrounding them.

In this series, these interventions are presented alongside physical alterations made to the Dutch landscape through a vast land reclamation project that began in the 16th Century and is ongoing. A third of the Netherlands lies below sea level and the dunes, dykes, pumps, and drainage networks engineered over hundreds of years have dramatically shaped the country’s landscape, providing it with huge swathes of arable land that would otherwise be submerged.

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.

Included in From Here On at Les Rencontres d’Arles 2011.

Publish Date: April 10, 2011| Dimensions: 8×10 inches (20×25 cm) | Colour, 106 pgs | Order here

Frederikkazerne, The Hague

Noordwijk aan Zee



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