Gustav Hellberg

Framtidsscanner and Future Scanner

Framtidsscanner [Future Scanner] is an art project, where people have been invited to tell their dreams about a future Varberg. The project was carried out in May 2016. Framtidsscanner's different internet forums have been closed since 31 October 2016.

Framtidsscanner – Varberg, a collaborative project

Framtidsscanner Varberg: Origin and Initial Concept

In 2015, I received an invitation to participate in Art Inside Out's inaugural artist residency project, Kulturens roll i samhället (Culture’s Role in Urban Development), in Varberg, Sweden. This program was linked to a substantial urban development initiative where the current industrial harbour was slated for transformation into a new town district, seamlessly integrated with the existing town by submerging the railway and railway station, creating unrestricted access to the waterfront.

For a town with a modest population, this undertaking was significant, promising to alter the town's character and reshape its physical and social structures. Unfortunately, the information provided by leading planners lacked a clear vision for whom this project was intended and how it would be utilised in the future.

Given my outsider status and limited time for research, my initial idea was to invite citizens to join a project rooted in people's dreams of a future society. Collaborating with local authorities and their various organizations, we initiated an open call, hoping to attract participants for the dream-telling aspect of the program. These gatherings were intended to be meeting points for individuals to share ideas and, ideally, connect with like-minded people. Framtidsscanner was introduced as a stepping stone of sorts.

Introduction meetings about the urban development project commenced in December 2015, with the artist residency taking place over a few weeks in May 2016.

Ducumentation video: Kulturens roll i stadsutvecklingen

Kulturens roll i samhället (Culture’s Role in Urban Development)

Art Inside Out
Art Inside Out is a nomadic institution for artist-in-residence in all art forms and genres. Artists are invited to explore the possibilities for their own art practices, as well as delve into new collaborations, in the county of Halland.

Art Inside Out on Instagram

Reflections on the Project

Framtidsscanner Varberg's open call failed to garner interest from the local populace. However, young people who had recently arrived in Varberg, seeking refuge from various conflicts in other countries, expressed interest in volunteering for the creation of an artwork. Together, we reshaped the original ideas. To encourage people to share their dreams, we approached individuals and asked them to articulate their visions for a future Varberg. These dream monologues were video recorded and publicly displayed, accompanied by demographic and economic statistics, as well as visionary ideas for town remodelling by Dutch architects Tom Bergevoet and Maarten van Tuijl, from temp architecture.

The Flexible City – Solutions for a Circular and Climate Adaptive Europe

The project wasn't intended to be a political tool or a substitute for existing community development methods in use for regional urban planning. It lacked any scientific approach and was fundamentally an aesthetic project, an artwork. This doesn't mean the project can't have utilitarian qualities beyond an art context. The most apparent lesson learned was the difficulty in capturing people's attention, especially in engaging them in their immediate future development. The most intriguing insight was how extraordinarily challenging it is to articulate one's dreams about a future society. In this case, forty-eight individuals made a concerted effort. It would be unfair, arrogant, and shortsighted to dismiss the majority of the displayed dreams as too private and short-sighted for real urban planning projects. People can only present ideas based on their experiences and capacities. Ignoring individuals 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 in planning our future?

In the case of Varberg and its harbour development, from industry to settlement, this project indicates that much more must be invested in involving people. The project isn't just about relocating industry and building a new town district; it encompasses the entire future situation for everyone involved. Before scorning these forty-eight dreamers, a comparison of their dreams with the meagre 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.


The residency period culminated in a cultural festival in the harbour, where the first version of Framtidsscanner was presented. The harbour company generously provided three old, rusty, and torn shipping containers, which were repaired and decorated by an enthusiastic voluntary crew. At the festival, the containers housed projections of the video material.

A streamlined version, Framtidsscanner – drömmar formar framtiden Mk2, was later placed in Varberg’s central shopping mall, Galleria Trädgården.

The project also featured three internet-based platforms. Two of them aimed to provide forums for discussion, with a suggestion to develop displayed dreams or introduce new ones.

The video Future Scanner – monument (Future Scanner – monument) is the third part of Framtidsscanner. It is a tribute to the forty-eight citizens of Varberg who bravely made a public effort to alter their and Varberg's future.

Framtidsscanner no longer has a physical presence, as the temporary video installation in the shopping mall has been de-installed. The internet platforms are also closed for further participation. In the end, 'Framtidsscanner' transformed into an aesthetic work, intended to extend beyond the aesthetic realm and serve as a meeting place for dreams. Personally, I dreamt that when people share their dreams, a meeting between dreamers could occur. Although 'Framtidsscanner' didn't engage as many people as anticipated, it became a collection, a work of dreams. Those of us who worked on this dream will carry something in our memories, and these memories might inspire future activities. It's something that experiences with art can achieve.

A brief analysis of the project highlights the existence of dreams and dreamers in Varberg. There is also a small group genuinely engaged with their city, mostly newcomers to the town. Perhaps their engagement stems from the energy they needed to break away from their origins, or maybe it's because they understand that disengagement with one's surroundings can lead to undesirable changes.

My self-critical analysis acknowledges that my original ideas were naive. While people may want to take action and actively participate in community development, few take the initiative. In this society, it requires much more organisation and long-term, active engagement to encourage broader participation. The question I pose to Varberg is: How can you leave your future to the decisions of a few?

I will continue my naive work in the art world and other realms, hoping that, somewhere in the future, it might lead to change."

Gustav Hellberg, Seoul, October 2016