“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.”
Belgian-born Mishka Henner is an England-based artist who closes in on the processes of censorship that persist in spite of (and in reaction to) such technological advances by emphasizing the aesthetic contributions of the satellite image.
Some governments, like that of the Dutch, have opted to censor certain areas using stylized pixilation instead of the more conventional blurring used by other countries. “The result,” Henner explains, “ 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.” These digitally-imposed interventions come to bear on the understanding of physical space, disturbing the scientific accuracy of satellite imagery in favour of government control. By isolating these images and emphasizing their aesthetic qualities, Henner is able to communicate the limits of increasingly accessible technologies like satellite imaging especially as they relate to programs of censorship.
Henner’s other work carries on this critical approach. You can read more about Dutch Landscapes at Henner’s website here and read some more praise here. More geographically-inspired works include his photographic work, Tulips and The Fields while the astronomically-inclined will enjoy both Cosmodrome and one of Henner’s printed publications titled Astronomical.