The Dutch have been censoring Google’s free satellite images since their introduction in 2005. Hundreds of Dutch sites, including royal palaces, army barracks and fuel depots have been obscured from Google’s images with beautiful polygonal patterns that call attention to these cover-ups. The Netherlands isn’t the only country to censor sensitive areas on these satellite images, there’s a fairly exhaustive list of these cover-ups on Wikipedia, however the Dutch have taken a fairly unique approach to these details. Their bold, multicolored interlocking polygons are less subtle than some of the other techniques chosen by other nationalities (more subtle touch-ups including digital cloning and blurring.)
Consequently the Dutch countryside, and even several urban spots contain highly visible patches calling to their practice of censorship.
Mishka Henner, on Granta, writes,
"These interventions, when compared to the uncensored parts of the images display the physical alterations made to the Dutch landscape through a vast land reclamation project that began in the sixteenth century and continues to this day. With a third of the Netherlands below sea level, 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 carapace designed to combat a very real and constant natural threat.
There is of course an absurdity to these censored images since their overt, bold and graphic nature only draws attention to the very sites that are meant to be hidden. Yet this contradiction seems perfectly apt for the absurd fear of terror that has come to dominate the cultural landscape of the last decade.”
Henner’s book, Dutch Landscapes (2011) discusses this at greater length.
Absurd and lovely.