Follow the Light

Lighted tunnel

It’s Friday evening, and I was about to embark on a wild night of pajamas in front of the fire with my Kindle and my puppies. But then I remembered reading that it’s the LAST night for the Light Brigade’s Follow the Light installation… and so I threw on my coat and dashed out the door to visit Elderberry Park and experience “the largest light and sound sculpture ever created in Alaska” for myself.

If you haven’t heard about the project yet, here’s the Light Brigade’s description:

Follow the light is…

– Interactive (the lights and soundscape are activated by you, the visitors)

– Made from vintage Christmas ornaments that the municipality of Anchorage hung from the light-poles downtown during the 1960’s and 70’s

– An official Anchorage Centennial Celebration Project. Our subject: Anchorage’s next 100 years!

Follow the Light was installed on the Winter Solstice and is powered by electricity created on the site using solar and human-powered generating devices (the bikes you can pedal to create power are especially cool!). It features a lighting design program paired with a soundscape composition, both of which eerily pierce the Alaska dark.

There’s a lot of media about the sculpture already; check out stories, photos, and video to learn more about the project:

Ambitious outdoor art installation will reuse holiday street decorations from Anchorage’s boom years by Mike Dunham

Winter Solstice: ‘Follow the Light’ at Elderberry Park by Kathleen McCoy

Follow The Light from the Light Brigade

Photos: “Follow the Light” sound and light installation by Bob Hallinen

When I arrived at the park I was a in a bit of a flurry, and rushing is no way to enjoy art. The trail was so icy that crampons would have been more appropriate footwear than my Danskos, but being forced to carefully pick my way down the sloping path running through the middle of the installation made me slow down and breathe, and then relax into the experience.

Favorite parts:

  • Fire dancers moved fluidly in the dark, mesmerizing passersby with their grace and joy in their art.
  • Fluorescent lights reminiscent of gigantic insects (one reporter described them as abstract floral sculptures, which I like better, but they felt like insects to me) glowed semi-menacingly, hulking along the trail and stealthily changing color.
  • A slow stream of smiling couples and laughing children flowed through the park and along the coastal trail – for a dark, wetcold* Friday evening at 9:30 it was a good crowd.
  • Despite all the other people following the light, I ended up walking through the tunnel on the trail by myself, and it made me feel like I was in the opening or closing sequence of an alien film – sound is programmed to change as you pass through and the experience of entering the tunnel is decidedly otherworldly. If I didn’t know it was part of an art installation and happened upon it during a walk or jog I might not have relished the experience as much as I did, but as a knowledgable participant I loved the feeling of being suspended between realities, not quite knowing what awaited me at the other end – it was easy to imaging being transported to a different location completely, and the boulders and trees at the other end were startlingly ordinary.

Another great project by the Light Brigade – I love the art experiences they’re bringing our community.

Good night Anchorage. Cheers to the weekend and all sorts of fun, but for now, pajamas and puppies await!



* It’s not really that cold, and it’s not really that wet, but somehow it’s “wetcold” – the kind of cold that sneaks it way into your bones and makes it impossible to warm up without either a scalding hot shower or bowl of soup/mug of tea. A French bulldog and a blanket work too, but are a slower thawing process… aerobic activity is good in theory but if you’re not careful you’ll end up with sweatywetcold which is truly miserable…

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!