The Dream Trail

By Kirsten Benn Lykkebo & Jacob Westergaard Madsen

10. Feb. 2008

On 7th February a whole new dimension was added to the museum's permanent exhibition. A trail through the familiar physical frames throw-ing new light on the technological history: People's dreams, hopes, visions, and nightmares about the communication of the future. How did the world of tomorrow look to the world of yesterday? 

Man and Machine rolled into one. The illustration from 1878 shows an early concetion of the possible negative consequences of the information society; a kind of information overload.  

A Bright Future

The Dream Trail begins in our own future: Which dreams are nourished today about the communications of tomorrow? An answer can be seen in the museum's video theatre which has been completely refurbished for the occasion and now deserves to be called a "cinema" with comfortable seats and a new screen. Here a ten-minute film presents the perspectives of the high-tech research in the use of light to ensure new and faster means of communications, which is being done at DTU Photonics. The perspectives are prodigious: researchers e.g. consider it likely that in the near future we will have 3D television and mobile phones without display; instead it will be possible to project pictures on any plane surface.

Historical Futures

Dreams about the future are a constant factor in the history of communication. Visitors may assure themselves about this in the nine short, historical films that can be seen in different parts of the exhibition. From the birth of the postal service to the present-day internet and mobile telephony, visionary inventors, dreaming businessmen, technology sceptics, and fantasizing writers are presented. Some dreams seem to be reappearing; e.g. the ideal that time should be exploited to the utmost is a dream that goes all the way back to the birth of the postal service. Also future earning possibilities are something that has always engrossed the pioneers of communication.

The dreams are always dependent of the time in which they emerge. Therefore they often tell us more about the present than about the future. The first stop on the Dream Trail, "Postal Dreams", are about roads and modes of conveyance - as these conditions presented the biggest obstacle to the dream of fast communication. Later the dreams grew wings with the technological development and from specific improvements they tended towards more and more diffuse dreams about world peace, conquering the limits of time and space, and even contact with Mars, but also total rejections of what was new and fear of communication-related nervous breakdowns.

Films and Quotations

The Dream Trail is designed by Lars Haastrup Architects and the films are produced by Waterfront/Steen Herdel. But the films are not the only element in this "exhibition within the exhibition". At each stop the visitors meet a wealth of quotations which in a tangible way illustrate the dreams of the future through the history of communication. At the same time a small "guess a quotation" game has been created where the visitors may test their ability to distinguish facts from fandangle: What was said and what was not? 

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