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3 Proposals for Bottle Imps

Statement "3 Proposals for Bottle Imps" My work takes as its jumping off point a puzzling and nightmarish passage in Raymond Roussel's 1914 novel Locus Solus. Roussel's story concerns a gentleman scientist, Canterel, who has created a group of absurd machines on his estate outside Paris. They include "bottle imps." In Roussel's idiosyncratic usage, bottle imps are pneumatic puppets that act out stories in water-filled crystal chambers. Roussel imagines his bottle imps to be multimedia devices blending motion, sound, and text and existing in a virtual space. It is supposed that Roussel was influenced by Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk and the experimental beginnings of cinema. Roussel in turn became an influence on the literary phases of Dada and surrealism (not that Roussel was a member of these or any other groups). I find Locus Solus interesting as a metaphor for much of what's going on in new media literature. With both, the artifice of the medium is a significant part of the message. "3 Proposals for Bottle Imps" was an attempt to explore issues of storytelling in which animated text coexists with animation proper. The site evokes something of Roussel's aesthetic of artifice for artifice's sake (a sensibility you find in a lot of new media pieces, actually). I began the piece in mid July 2002 and completed it in early October. I do my own design and coding. With a piece like this, where form and content are closely related, I think it would be tough to do otherwise. Though I did write a first draft of the text of each section before I began laying it out, almost everything was rewritten to fit the screen and the temporal rhythm. --William Poundstone