It is always night somewhere, and a third of the world is always asleep—submerged in dreams. For the past 15 months I've explored that subconscious realm in 18 countries for my ongoing World Dream Atlas project. I walk up to strangers and ask for dreams, but just as often, I get nightmares. Around the globe, similar themes of horror emerge again and again: the post-apocalyptic wasteland, the faceless stalker, the broken teeth, the cannibal banquet, the sorrowful dead.
In waking life, human culture is built on conflict. Our books and films all feature struggle. In these mediums, we could create scenes of endless happiness where nothing ever goes wrong. Of course, we never do. Bliss is boring, if prolonged. Even our most optimistic narratives require a challenge to be overcome before happiness is attained. In dreams, the outcome is similar. Deprived of stimuli in our sleep, the mind reveals its nature in what it generates. We populate the darkness with aspects of ourselves and call them monsters.
What follows is a selection of nightmares from around the world. In waking life, we dedicate one day a year to the celebration of the macabre. In our dreams, however, every night is Halloween.
Follow Roc's project collecting dreams at World Dream Atlas.