Page for New Myth

怪力亂神 New Myth

by ZHANG Yu (aka John C)


Artistic Description

山海經 (ShanHanJing, The Book Of Mountains and Seas) and 博物誌 (BoWuZhi, The Encyclopaedia of Strange Things) are ancient Chinese books that describe myths and mountain, people, strange things in myths. They are also two of the first books that I read as a little boy that deeply impress me with all the stories that appear to be super cool and novel to a little kid. At that time I would be scared because I thought 刑天 (a character in 山海經, he kept fighting after his head is cut off and used his nipples as eyes and his navel as mouth (to yell)) is real.

刑天 that I drew
刑天 that I drew

For a long time in China, and I would say even now, the books like those two are described as books that are useless, because they write about monsters and non-realistic things, but not “serious” theories or “useful” techniques. But in my childhood and even now, they give me joyful experience. In my view, they just like me, wondering outside the mainstream, and finding value in the outside to tease at the mainstream. They ,also, in a way, represent the unlimited imagination, which I think is lack in today.

Therefore I want to combine them and try to make new things out of it. As a reader of these two books, I am surprised to see the outcome, it’s something familiar, yet new. It’s happy to see 鮫人 (they are half fish half human, their tear will become pearl) from 博物誌 and 相柳 ( he has 9 heads and a dark-green snake body) in 山海經 appear in a same story. I also want to give a interesting experience for those who have not read the books yet. I hope the generated stories can inspire their imagination, lead them into a strange but colourful world.

Technical Description

Processed text of the two books are fed into a n-gram system to generate tokens, and after post-processing, become new paragraphs. More details about how it works are in the code comment. The visual part, I use Perlin Noise to generate the frame with shabby texture.


Click here to the page.

Link to sketch

version1 version2 finalversion



Use Rita library; text from 中國哲學書電子化計劃 and 中華古詩文古書籍網; pictures from 新浪; a sound from free; more details in code comment