Gustav Hellberg

Framtidsscanner – Varberg

Framtidsscanner – Varberg (Future Scanner – Varberg)


Dimensions variable
3-channel video installations, 3 shipping containers, paint HD1080p, video loop, 03:04:30

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In May 2016, I received an invitation to participate in the inaugural artist residency project, Art Inside Out, in Varberg, Sweden. The programme was intricately linked to a significant urban development initiative. The existing industrial harbour was slated for transformation into a new town district, closely connected to the existing town by submerging the current railway and railway station to create unimpeded access to the waterfront.

For a town with a relatively small population, this undertaking was substantial, set to alter both the town's character and its physical and social structures. However, the information provided by leading planners lacked a clear vision regarding the intended beneficiaries of this project and how it would be utilised in the future.

Given my outsider status and limited time for research, my initial concept was to involve citizens in a project centred on their dreams for a future society. Collaborating with local authorities and various organisations, we devised an open call, hoping to attract participants for the dream-sharing aspect of the programme. These gatherings were intended not only for dream-sharing but also as forums for idea exchange, fostering connections among individuals with similar visions. Framtidsscanner was introduced as a stepping stone in this process.

Regrettably, the open call failed to generate interest among the local populace. However, young individuals who had recently arrived in Varberg, seeking refuge from conflicts in other countries, expressed a keen interest in volunteering for an art project. Together, we reshaped the original ideas. To collect dreams, we approached people, asking them to share their visions for a future Varberg. These dream monologues were video recorded and publicly displayed. We complemented these recordings with demographic and economic statistics, as well as visionary town remodelling ideas by Dutch architects Tom Bergevoet and Maarten van Tuijl.

The residency concluded with a cultural festival in the harbour, where the first version of Framtidsscanner was presented using three old, rusty shipping containers generously provided by the harbour company. With the enthusiastic voluntary crew, the containers' exteriors were repaired and decorated. At the festival, the containers housed projections of the video material.

A condensed version was later installed in Varberg's central shopping mall. The project also featured three internet-based platforms, two of which aimed to facilitate discussion, encouraging the development of displayed dreams or the introduction of new ones.

Framtidsscanner no longer has a physical presence, as the temporary video installation in the shopping mall has been dismantled. The internet platforms are also closed for further participation, having attracted as little interest and activity as the initial open calls.

This project was not conceived as a political tool, nor was it intended to replace community development methods used in urban planning. It lacks any scientific approach and is fundamentally an aesthetic project—an artwork. However, this doesn't mean the project can't possess utilitarian qualities outside of an art context. One crucial lesson is the difficulty in capturing people's attention and engaging them in their future development. The most interesting insight is the extraordinary difficulty in expressing one's dreams about a future society. In this case, we had forty-eight people making a concerted effort. It might be tempting to dismiss many of the displayed dreams as too private or short-sighted for real urban planning projects. However, such a judgement would be unfair, arrogant, and short-sighted. Individuals can only present ideas based on their experiences and capacities. Ignoring someone for not sharing the same language or knowledge risks consequences in the future. Disregarding people's struggles to express their thoughts means losing crucial information. Can we afford that when planning our future?

Regarding Varberg's harbour development, this project indicates that more must be invested in involving people. The project isn't merely about relocating industry and constructing a new town district; it encompasses the entire future situation for everyone involved. Before dismissing these forty-eight dreamers, a comparison of their dreams with the scant information provided by the project's professional planners is essential. The conclusion is that describing dreams or ideas for the future is difficult for everyone. From an external perspective, one can see the gaps where essential facts are missing. Unfortunately, the primary Varberg project has been launched with little attention to its rather leaky hull.


Framtidsscanner, 2nd and 3rd parts

Framtidsscanner – drömmar formar framtiden Mk2 was temporarily installed in Varberg's central shopping mall, during the summer 2016. It was the second and condensed version of the video installation produced during Artist Inside Out's artist in residence program, 2015-2016.

Framtidsscanner – drömmar formar framtiden Mk2 → 

The video Framtidsscanner [Future Scanner] – monument constitutes the third part of Framtidsscanner. It serves as a tribute to the forty-eight citizens of Varberg who bravely made a public effort to influence their own and Varberg's future.

The video Framtidsscanner [Future Scanner] – monument →


Project Epilogue

After the project had come to an end a project epilogue was published on the project's website. It is a reflexion on how the project had changed due to practical issues, mostly based on too little knowledge about the city of Varberg's cultural, social and political situations. The most important reason why the project changed direction was the completely unexpected particpation of newly arrived, refugees and asylum seekeres who came to give the project a boost of energy as well as a probably much needed injection of fresh and different thoughts.

Project Epilogue →