Gloucester Harbor Walk

L³ : Lanyard Light Line


“We simply need…wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in,” Wallace Stegner, “Wilderness Letter,” 1960.


lanyard: a rope threaded through a pair of deadeyes, used to adjust the tension in the rigging of a sailing vessel; a short length of rope or line for securing something.


Our proposal is a sculpture that engages the water, illuminates the ocean, and links people to the city’s past. The Lanyard Light Line signifies the city’s historic infrastructural connections between the land and water by highlighting the pier systems, unique structures that are long, aerated, reach out into and float above, the water. As many of the piers have disappeared along with the working waterfront, we hope to illustrate their significance, recalling those that have fallen into ruin.


Our site plan diagram shows four piers, all of which are in various states of decay after falling into disuse around 1999. The one remaining is dilapidated with many of the vertical piles either missing or aslant. With the horizontal elements now gone, the remaining columnar field of aggregated piles is a perfect canvas upon which to paint with lines of light.


Our proposal is a light painting of gesturally abstract linear “brush strokes” that weave through the ruinous field condition of piles located in the harbor space, viewable from both the land and water. We have designed a sculpture of light that differentiates through tightly controlled geometry sets, echoing the original outline of the one remaining pier.


The helicoidal, braided geometries of the lanyard lines stem from a historic precedent, the Marlinspike seamanship or splice knot, and a contemporary one, the Marine propeller cavitation, or the water displacement produced by propeller blades moving underneath the waterline. Our Lanyard Line geometries make these evident in an effort to connect the figurations of the light sculpture to the modern fishing industry of Gloucester.