Oneiric social production

Data visualization, Geospatial Information System (GIS), fabrication, Sculptural artwork, Speculative design, Academic


Heraclitus once said “Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.” To represent Heraclitus’ claim in physical form, we visualized the crowdsourced “living utopian dataset” from Harvard GSD’s mapping class over the years. The data asks us to create a utopian proportion of daily activities and spatialize them in the city of Boston.


Jackson Howell (Designer)
Jiae Azad (Designer)
Hanif Wicaksono (Designer)

Project for

Fall 2019 Mapping: Geographic Speculation and Representation
Instructor: Robert Gerard Pietrusko

Featured in

  • Harvard Graduate School of Design Mapping Mid-Review

Process workflow.

Background: Rhythm data

Each day we perform cyclical rhythms of consumption and production that “reproduce” us physically, mentally, socially, and economically.

For example—
- To reproduce our bodies as physical systems we consume calories, we need rest, perhaps exercise, etc.

-We reproduce our social lives through practices of gossip, hygiene, recreation, institutional memberships. We require affection and companionship.

- Mentally, we consume information and synthesize it into forms of knowledge, we produce physical and intellectual artifacts of this process.

- And lastly, we labor to secure means to propel all of these activities for an additional day.

Project direction

Following the prompt for a “study of life’s daily patterns... redrawing the city entirely in the image of the class’s collectively desired rhythms”, this project visualizes the collective sleep patterns of our class, the oneiric activity of a utopian exercise and the duration of each individual’s submergence in dream production.

Constant (Anton Nieuwenhuys) (1920–2005), New Babylon, 1963.
Source: Drawing Matter

“Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.”

A quote by Heraclitus


Heraclitus’ claim is remarkably relevant in light of the guiding insight that “all utopian and revolutionary struggles are, at the core, a struggle for how one structures their daily life... concerned with the spatial patterns of daily reproduction”. Utopia is also often a recurring theme in many architecture projects and artwork.

Utopias are dreams by definition, in the sense that they are imagined and idealised. It is not a coincidence that the word “dream” holds this double meaning, signifying at once both the oneiric and the imaginative.

Dreams are where the imagination is truly liberated and it is im- possible to imagine a liberated, creative mind incapable of dreaming. Conversely, since there can be no concept of utopia without imagination, and there can be no real imagination without dreams, we can assert that the concept of utopia is predicated on dreams and the ability to dream. This is why we have chosen to highlight oneiric social production with our model.

Sleeping data from analyzed spatial dataset

3D model concept


To represent Heraclitus’ claim in physical form, first we mapped all of the points where sleep occurred in the class data set. Then we separated this data into different layers, corresponding to two-hour increments of time- slept.

Layers of sleep

The first layer represents those who slept 0-2 hours; the second layer, those who slept 2-4 hours; the third layer, those who slept 4-6 hours; and so on, up to those who slept 12 hours or more. The points in each of these respective layers were then extruded to help further emphasize, in the z-dimension, the magnitude of time slept. 


We are interested in visualizing using stacking method since dreaming often times are conceptually represented within our “layers of sleep”. 


By stacking these layers from from least to most time slept, we create a visual—and spatial—representation of Heraclitus’ metaphor of sub- mergence in sleep. To further communicate visually this metaphor of submergence, progressively more blue pigment is added to each layer, creating a gradient that gets darker as it goes deeper.



© 2020 Hanif Wicaksono.