A commission by the municipality of Heerhugowaard
From classical antiquity until the introduction of the meter, the kilometre and the hectare in 1816, the human body was the ‘measure of things’. Distances and surfaces were expressed in ‘feet’, ‘ellen’, ‘thumbs’ and ‘rods’. One ‘foot’ measured about 30 cm and one ‘rod’ was 12 feet. A ‘morning’ was a piece of land that the farmer could plough in one morning, a distance was expressed in ‘so many hours of going’. Purely physical experiences of space and time in the landscape.
Around 1630 the polder Heer-Huygen-Waert was reclaimed and from the outset the Middenweg formed the central axis of Heerhugowaard. This dead straight line in the polder formed the ruler and yardstick along which the 17th century surveyor could measure plots, ditches and possessions, always in ‘rods’, ‘feet’ and ‘mornings’.
We still use the ‘foot’ as a unit of measurement when we ‘fit’ something. We hardly know the ‘rod’ as unit of measure anymore, but the beautiful coincidence wants a cyclist to travel about 12 feet, so one rod, or 3,70 meter, during one round trip of the bike pedal.
As Middenweg has become a bicycle street it is very fitting to rename the ‘rod’ as an obsolete unit to the 21st century ‘pedal’, a new standard especially for cyclists on Middenweg-Zuid.
This work of art was made possible with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund.
For more information; HUMAN DIMENSIONS.pdf
Here’s a film of ‘the making of’…