As an endless stream of often-absurd observations apropos of nothing much, Twitter might have appealed to the Surrealists of 1920s Paris. Now, film director Tim Burton has adapted their favourite parlour game in an experiment to create a script using lines posted as tweets.
Inspired by cadavre exquis, a game similar to Consequences, in which players write lines on folded paper, Mr Burton last week posted the opening line to a new tale, inviting readers to suggest what should happen next. The best submissions, of no more than 140 characters, are selected every few hours and posted at Burtonstory.com.
The introduction reads: "Stainboy, using his obvious expertise, was called in to investigate mysterious glowing goo on the gallery floor."
Stainboy is one of the director's lesser-known but most-endearing characters – a chronically nervous young superhero. His gooey predicament has inspired the imagination of tweeters, who have had him hanging from a chandelier by his fingernails.
The latest of 26 lines of the story last night, offered by @ange1ina, read: "His vision blurred from the goo, Stainboy rubbed his eyes and a face came into focus. He heard a girlish giggle."
Widely considered a modern master of the macabre, Burton, who directed Edward Scissorhands and the new Alice in Wonderland film, was no doubt attracted to the game by its title: cadavre exquis translates as "exquisite corpse".
First played by artist and poets including Marcel Duchamp and Benjamin Péret, it involves each person writing a word on a sheet of paper before folding it over to conceal it. The resulting sentences, revealed at the end, are predictably bizarre. The game takes its name from what was reportedly the first sentence: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau" – "The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine".
Since then, the technique has been by artists in a variety of forms. In 1995, a comic book telling the story of a modest stick figure was compiled by 69 cartoonists, each drawing three panels using only the previous three to judge what was happening. The composers John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Virgil Thomson wrote pieces of music using the practice.
Mr Burton's version differs in that contributors can see everything that has been written. His project, which ends on 6 December, perhaps bears more similarity to Cheddar Gorge, a popular game on Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue , in which panellists give one word each as they attempt to create an endless sentence.