Surveying- outpost Paal 6
The wooden beach posts that can be found along the coastline of the Netherlands were placed there in the second half of the 19th century as a device for measuring the erosion and expansion of beaches. The goal was to precisely measure the width of beaches along the entire coast. Beach post #1 is located near Huisduinen at Den Helder, and carries a mark for the Amsterdam Ordnance Datum (Normaal Amsterdams Peil or NAP in Dutch), this is a reference point for water levels. The first line of beach posts extended to the south along the North Sea coast, down to Oostvoorne. Later, the Wadden beaches were numbered, ascending in north-eastern direction. Along the nameless uninhabited beaches, the markers took on the role of names of places. We want to know more about the work of the recruits who measured the erosion and accumulation of sand on the beaches every day. We are also curious about the classified beach logbooks, that are supposed to contain geographical information above the clearance level of civilians like us. Who knows what purpose these posts serve nowadays? It’s a mystery.
Today, the North Sea and Wadden Sea have been segmented into neat plots like squares on a chessboard. Without the resourcefulness of Jan Blanken, who ordered the beach posts to be placed, the exploitation of the sea (for fishery, farming, oil, gas, and wind) would have been impossible from a legal standpoint.
Guide: Jan Blanken (1755-1835)
Blanken was inspector-general for the dutch water management board. He was a man of vision, a traveler, and internationally known as the architect of the North-Holland canal, and of the navy dockyard in Den Helder. The navy dockyard Willemsoord is a remarkable maritime bastion, and a crossroads for the military geography of the northern Netherlands. Blanken represents the professional engineers who from the 1960’s onwards came to be seen as drawing-board bound, narrow minded people thinking along straight lines who refused to view the world as anything else but a technical problem. That’s why we pose the question what ‘sea and sea air‘ mean in the anthropocene. The anthropocene is a suggestion for the name of the era in which atmosphere and biosphere have been irreversibly affected by human activity. Now, early in the 21st century, the Wadden area reads as an informative catalog of technology applied to the atmosphere, biosphere, and ecology, Questioning this repertoire is a culturally relevant activity.