Guide to Getting Lost in the Dark… The Norwegian Way

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Everyone knows the Beatles’ song “Norwegian Wood.” And when you picture Norway, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Trees—full, lush, green trees. That’s right, Norwegian woods. In addition to forests, you might imagine mountains, meadows, lakes, and rivers. In other words, anything that has to do with nature. You might also picture the fantastical creatures that have been known for centuries to reside in nature all throughout Scandinavia, that is fairies, gnomes, elves, trolls. Whatever you want to call them, you know they’re there, hiding in the shadows of the leaves, darting around behind your back as you take a walk along a narrow winding path.

And that’s the other thing you might think of when you think of Norway—walking through the woods. It’s something everyone should do at some point in their lives, and it’s something Norwegians have been doing for hundreds of years and continue to do today. All you need is a sturdy pair of hiking boots and some reliable information about weather and trails and you’re free to roam. In fact, Norwegians value freedom so highly that in 1957 they passed a law called the Allmansretten, or the Open Air Act, which entitles anyone to walk anywhere in the unfenced countryside. This means you can quench your thirst for exploration and adventure by just stepping out your door and heading in the direction of your choice.

Visitors may be inclined to choose the summertime to visit Norway, which is understandable because it promises long days filled with sunlight—24 hours of it! This gives you unlimited time for exploration. However, the spring and fall have their merits and the wintertime comes with the promise of northern lights. The darkness is equally as important as the light; they are two sides of the same coin.

In September, a group of artists joined forces to explore this very idea that darkness can be just as full of promise and adventure as the long hours of daylight in the summer. Melissa Larsen, Joao Pereira, and Andy Cross are each well known in the field of electronic design, and with their expertise and know-how, as well as the help of their assistants and technicians, they decided to see how they could extend the experience of being in nature after dark by bringing lights into the mix. Choosing an area called Dølerud, just outside Oslo, they took on the challenge of rigging an entire light installation through the forest in one day so that it would be ready for nightfall. It took a lot of planning and a lot of bushwhacking, but in the end, as the day began to fade and the lights began to shine, the natural world took on a new look.

The installation, made up of 45,000 individual LED diodes, 2000 meters of cable, and many custom designed light elements, took people on a journey along an illuminated path, past a lake with lights bobbing on the surface, and to the main event in a clearing, where lights adorned the trees all around. The experience was not only visually stunning but tapped into all the senses at once, bringing people into a different side of nature and a different side of themselves.

The project was commissioned by the Norwegian chocolate maker Freia as part of a campaign for their new product Kvikk Lunsj Mørk. Kvikk Lunsj is their classic chocolate bar and has been traveling with hikers in Norway since 1937. When you visit Norway, you’ll see it on the shelves in packaging that is reminiscent of its old-timey origins. The Mørk line is the dark chocolate counterpart to the old favourite. As the artists demonstrated with their light installation in the forest, and as people will see when they take a bite of the new bar, darkness can be lots of fun!