The double metal V blades of the catamarans prow are cutting through the green water making our vessel float fast and softly. The windows of the lounge make the wet landscape become an animated long rectangle similar to a cinematic projection.
It takes about an hour to reach Rotterdam Erasmus bridge from Dordrecht on a north direction through the canals Beneden Merwede and Noord further up. Because of the various enclaves and intricacies on the waterside one gets the impression that smaller watery paths expand the canal at various directions a fact far from being true if one looks at the map. Instead what probably makes the landscape look so complex is the palimpsest of architectural and landscape interventions conducted by the industries that occupy the shores.
The metal peers and flotillas of various control centres along the banks are clearly a deliberate gesture to expand usable space in the shake of production of industrial products. In the junction of canals forests of reeds bend uniformly against the wind allowing a breath of openness in our window view towards bleached faraway landscapes.
I observe the octagonal bollards that compose the major defence system that protects the land against floods and tidal increases. Occasionally the perfect mosaic fractures into atypical patches of wasteland making the bollards seem like the left out pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
It feels as if we are crossing a collaborative workshop of congested human activity. Industries are built as near as possible to the element they are trying to master. The high end objects they produce are made to defy the natural elements and withstand the passing of time.
Furthermore one could only imagine how these imaginary networks of canals with their extended peers and shabby embankments could be the locations of metaphorical departures; an unquantifiable number of departures of – ideas, objects, emotions and concepts that express the work and effort – the struggle the victories and failures of human experimentation.
In this parallel universe of concepts and ideas the protagonists of this trip are the refined industrial objects man has produced to help him study, explore, and tame the watery element. These are stashed now neatly on the decks of gargantuan carriers, waiting to be set assail. Those objects are a mirror of mans fundamental endeavours. It is those freshly painted objects composed by all the laws of progress that will bear mans reflection – withering with every minute, as the freighters will carry them to far away oceans. “The objects go but man remains in land.”
And this imaginary expanse of watery networks can be seen allegorically; that the devices we build to help us improve and predict our future will occasionally return to us bent and half destroyed like the broken bollards on the canal embankments. The unpredictability of nature will alter them with its powers of complexity transforming our conscious and rational efforts into mere accidents of nature. So how prepared are we for the trip into the unknowable? Will our reflections withstand the expanse of space and time…
While we sail across the patches of reed fires and half ruined embankments a flock of birds hastily takes off disturbed by the presence of our vessel. On our left a metallic buoy painted in vivid colours guards the junction of two intersecting canals. Strangely enough from where I am sitting its two intersecting fins create a Dürer’s solid. The mysterious solid, the symbol that has been associated with the melancholic state of creators and makers; an object that can be worked ‘ad infinitum’.
‘In ten minutes we will be in Rotterdam’.
Thoughts about what my future holds and of the people that are close to me come to mind; Thoughts about, life, death and the melancholy expressing my own search for idealised creations, for a perfect or idealised sense of self; are all drowning fast in muddy waters. All I can do is remain immersed, safe and slightly dizzy, within the quite landscape.