Tim Burton with actor Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp (L) and director Tim Burton stand on stage during a panel discussion on the movie 'Alice in Wonderland' during the 40th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego July 23, 2009. Reuters Photo

Ever played that age-old game with your gang, in which a piece of paper is passed around to be filled with sentences from each person to make up a story? Well, now you have a chance to play the game with none other than Tim Burton, the American film director, film producer, artist and writer better known for his dark themed movies - thanks to Twitter.

Burton, the brain behind movies like Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Batman Returns, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd and the recent Alice in Wonderland, has invited all Twitter users to collaborate with him to create a tale, which will finally take shape on December 6.

What's more? The social media scribes will have the opportunity to work on what happens to be the latest story of 'Stainboy', Burton's already popular character. The character first appeared in two short poems in the book 'The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy' created and illustrated by Tim Burton. Stainboy later went on to be featured in a series of flash animation shorts in 2000, titled 'The World of Stain Boy'.

The Hollywood director posted the first line of the story on November 1, Stainboy, using his obvious expertise, was called in to investigate mysterious glowing goo on the gallery floor #BurtonStory.

The story telling, which opened to the internet public on November 22, is now underway.

Tim Burton playing an age-old game

The project has been dubbed 'Tim Burton's Cadavre Exquis', which translates to 'exquisite corpse'. Exquisite corpse is an age-old game, which is also referred to as exquisite cadaver or rotating corpse.

In the game, a collection of words or images is collectively assembled by a group of collaborators. Each person involved in the game is allowed to write a phrase or one sentence based on what the previous person has written. If the players wish to keep the previous contributions undisclosed, then a rule of using a particular string of words is introduced. For instance, the players will be expected to write in the order of adjective followed by noun, verb followed by adverb, finished off with an adjective noun.

Even though this technique is often considered as popular with Surrealists, the thinkers attributed to the cultural movement in 1920 known for using the element of surprise in visual art as well as literature, it is similar to an old parlour game called 'Consequences', in which players take turns to write on a sheet of paper, and conceal part of the writing by folding the paper before passing it on to the next player.

As the years passed, the game evolved onto a more visual horizontal with the players using images born out of the story to create artwork, paintings and collages.

Now, Tim Burton, who himself indulges in surrealistic imagery in many of his movies to render a haunting and dark touch to them, has taken the game to next level by utilizing the modern day technology to include a larger global participation.

Mr Burton's Rules

Tim Burton has prescribed two rules for his Twitter contest of exquisite corpse. They are:

1) Keep it clean.
- The website set up for Burton's story also warns that inappropriate submissions will be blocked.

2) Tweet as often as you like

The best Tweets will be selected at the end of the day to build a story. Twitterers have time till Dec 6 to contribute. Posts have to be limited to 127 characters, so that the mandatory 13 character hashtag - #BurtonStory - can be incorporated in the tweet.

Story so far

As of November 22, nine tweets were selected. In the story that has been moulded so far, Stainboy, who has been called in to investigate the mysterious goo on the gallery floor, seems to be engulfed by some unknown force of the goo. Not only as the goo come to life and begun spinning around the room, but has also perplexed Stainboy as he wondered why the goo felt so familiar. The last (ninth) tweet selected so far has thrown the story wide open with the twist that Stainboy suddenly realized why the goo looked strangely familiar.

Burton playing for publicity?

Burton's crowd-sourced tale seems to be aimed at promoting an upcoming museum showing of his work at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. In fact, the Twitter story experiment has been featured on tiff.net, from where people can log into their Twitter accounts and contribute directly. The aforementioned website set up for the story experiment also reads 'tiff. Presents' on the header.

The exhibition, which is slated to open on November 26 and run till April 17,2011, has been organized by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. The show at TIFF comes after the earlier show at the MoMA set a record by drawing third-highest attendance of any exhibition in the museum's history.