Jiayang Huang

Crossing of the Dream fantasy


Credits: Jiayang & Yiran

What this project is?

This research aims to explore the application of AI technology in artistic practice by visualizing the dream process of the historical figure Mulan, demonstrating the feasibility of AI-assisted art creation.

Why do this project?

  • Demonstrating possibilities of popular AI tools as creative production media, including ease of use, effectiveness, and collaboration.
  • The classic figure Mulan is based on a psychoanalytic approach to exploring the repression of desire in Chinese culture, in order to reflect on the spiritual structure of modern subjects.
  • Testing whether AI tools can produce an artistic style with Eastern aesthetics.
  • Providing a workflow for collaborative art creation between artists and AI tools. 

The Ballad of Mulan (6th century)

By Unknown, translated from Chinese by Wikisource

The sound of one sigh after another,
As Mulan weaves at the doorway.

No sound of the loom and shuttle,
Only that of the girl lamenting.

Ask her of whom she thinks,
Ask her for whom she longs.

“There is no one I think of,
There is no one I long for.

Last night I saw the army notice,
The Khan is calling a great draft –

A dozen volumes of battle rolls,
Each one with my father’s name.

My father has no grown-up son,
And I have no elder brother.

I’m willing to buy a horse and saddle,
To go to battle in my father’s place.”

She buys a fine steed at the east market;
A saddle and blanket at the west market;

A bridle at the south market;
And a long whip at the north market.

She takes leave of her parents at dawn,
To camp beside the Yellow River at dusk.

No sound of her parents hailing their girl,
Just the rumbling waters of the Yellow River.

She leaves the Yellow River at dawn,
To reach the Black Mountains by dusk.

No sound of her parents hailing their girl,
Just the cries of barbarian cavalry in the Yan hills.

Ten thousand miles she rode in war,
Crossing passes and mountains as if on a wing.

On the northern air comes the sentry’s gong,
Cold light shines on her coat of steel.

The general dead after a hundred battles,
The warriors return after ten years.

They return to see the Son of Heaven,
Who sits in the Hall of Brilliance.

The rolls of merit spin a dozen times,
Rewards in the hundreds and thousands.

The Khan asks her what she desires,
“I’ve no need for the post of a gentleman official,

I ask for the swiftest horse,
To carry me back to my hometown.”

Her parents hearing their girl returns,
Out to the suburbs to welcome her back.

Elder sister hearing her sister returns,
Adjusts her rouge by the doorway.

Little brother hearing his sister returns,
Sharpens his knife for pigs and lamb.

“I open my east chamber door,
And sit on my west chamber bed.

I take off my battle cloak,
And put on my old-time clothes.

I adjust my wispy hair at the window sill,
And apply my bisque makeup by the mirror.

I step out to see my comrades-in-arms,
They are all surprised and astounded:

‘We travelled twelve years together,
Yet didn’t realise Mulan was a lady!'”

The buck bounds here and there,
Whilst the doe has narrow eyes.

But when the two rabbits run side by side,
How can you tell the female from the male?

Experiment one: Mulan story visualization

Experiment two: Mulan dream visualization

Why Mulan?

Inheritance and innovation of Chinese culture. 

  • As a classic figure, symbolizes the traditional social moral.
  • With numerous adaptations, this figure is hoped to address contemporary issues in the new era.
  • Encourage individuals facing contemporary challenges.

Artistic value and psychoanalytic practice

  • Visualizes the dream state in Eastern aesthetics. 
  • Explores how psychoanalysis can be applied in artistic practice.

Plot One: The Germ of Freedom

The night after her sister's wedding ceremony, she had a dream.

Plot Two: An Opportunity for self-realization

The night before her going to conscription, she had a dream.

Plot Three: The price of weaving

Plot 3: A dream happened the night after Mulan luckily survived the battlefield.

Plot Four: The Collapse of Meaning

Plot 4: A dream happened the night after Mulan luckily survived the battlefield. Credit: Yiran & Jiayang

Plot Five: The Maze of Nostalgia

Plot 5: A dream happened the night before Mulan entered the palace to get the reward. Credit: Yiran & Jiayang

Contributing AI Tools