Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

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jkeyes1000
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Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 10th, 2017, 1:51 pm

What sort of magic is most impressive to an audience? Sleight of hand, clever gimmickry, or stage illusion?

All have their potential of course. But which elicits the greatest admiration? Which lends more dignity to the art?

I think stage magic tends to reduce it to the level of generic entertainment, like plays and musical performances. Lots of glitz and glamour, but a temporary and fleeting pastime. And the performer is often perceived as simply the owner and operator of some fancy apparatus

Clever gimmicky is akin to cheap novelties, practical jokes. It makes audiences feel more cheated than treated.

Personally I believe that skilled handling of ordinary objects is the classiest kind of act one can do.

Who else has contemplated this question in depth, and how did it influence your decision to favour one type or another?

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2017, 2:06 pm

your question is built on several false premises not the least of which is confusion of the method with the effect. An audience shouldn't know or care how the trick is done unless the magicians makes that an issue. the only people who would know are other magicians.

but there is no real answer to your question because magic is merely a media, an excuse for the audience and magician to engage and look at the same thing at the same time.

it's impact derives from how that media is manipulated by the magician. the media itself is effectively inert

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 10th, 2017, 2:17 pm

[sarcasm]A guy vanishes your wallet, changes your wife into a poodle (gives you the leash) and then shows you your house on a tv screen -waves hands and it's gone. What's gonna affect you more?[/sarscasm]

Yeah, guessing you probably meant something about some "Ben Stein" or "Vegas" style performance of magic as droll comedy or dance routine...

The stuff they talk about seems to be what they directly experience - the memorable effect - the balloon floating around their home - seeing a live bear at a kids show or making a coin in their hand change.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 10th, 2017, 3:07 pm

Another way of asking this question is, Do you think audiences find it more awesome when you seem to achieve an effect with ease, or by means of practiced dexterity? More often than not, tricks are either obviously gimmicked, or are performed in a manner that disguises your skilled manoeuver. Does it not earn more respect to show your talents than to dazzle them with brightly painted objects and store bought technology?

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 10th, 2017, 3:26 pm

You can test that for yourself with decorated props. Maybe a trick with a pack of matches or Matrix? Props: Tacky/Classy/Mundane See what you get.

If anything looks gimmicked or your actions appear tricky... you're very likely not doing magic.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2017, 3:41 pm

you seem to have a limited view of the possibilities of presentation or the implication of those possibilities.

if i perform something and the audience is aware it is accomplished via skill, then can i even be said to have done 'magic' in the strictest sense? is that not really more akin to juggling? while we can convey a sense of magical-ness, does this ever allows the audience to experience actual impossibility, the crux of the magical experience?

likewise, if i perform flawless sleight of hand yet do so in a manner that the audience is unaware but am able
to convince them through the use of showmanship that i accomplished my demonstration with truly supernatural methods, which will the audience focus on and be affected by? do you really think they will be more deeply impacted by someone who is skilled with their fingers more so than someone who has tapped into the previously unknown potentials of the universe (everything else being equal)?

what if i perform a self working trick but present it in a manner that creates the illusion of having been accomplished by use of tremendous skill?
is the audience experience lessened because of the reality of the method?

heck, let's take a step back - how many times have you seen a magician perform a trick and could honestly answer the question "how did they do it?". i'm not talking actual technical method, i mean the alleged dramatic fiction underlying the illusion.

every choice is a choice. and all choices have pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses.

but so do individual performers.

while YOU may not be able to convincingly present magic as a supernatural act, others can. While YOU may not be able to over shadow the prop and talk it away into irrelevancy, others can.

the secret is finding what YOU CAN do well, and play to that.

that's all anyone can do.

find what works for you. not what works for me, or JT, or david blaine, or frank the magic man who doubles as a clown on fridays.

as i said earlier, the medium is inert.

what YOU are capable of bringing to it is what will determine how deeply it can impact an audience.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 10th, 2017, 3:55 pm

Editing your post by inserting some spacing:
jkeyes1000 wrote:Another way of asking this question is,
1) Do you think audiences find it more awesome when you seem to achieve an effect with ease, or by means of practiced dexterity?
2) More often than not, tricks are either obviously gimmicked, or are performed in a manner that disguises your skilled manoeuver.
3) Does it not earn more respect to show your talents than to dazzle them with brightly painted objects and store bought technology?

1 - that depends on what you want them to believe you did to make the effect happen. For example are you doing a "watch me switch the cards" version of Wildcard where you show them another set of dupes you keep in your pocket and them claim credit for trained imps?
2 - If your stuff looks obviously gimmick and your actions look tricky... you might want to consider billing as a prop comic or juggler.
3 - Are you presenting yourself as a demonstrator for store bought technology and/or looking to amuse folks with supposed kiddie show props?

Your questions - just framed so you can consider.
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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 10th, 2017, 4:04 pm

It is certainly understandable that those who perform, for lack of a better word, the “commercial” variety of trick or illusion to be defensive here. Believe me, I know where you are coming from. But that is exactly why I asked. How many of us ever really thought about it when we were starting out? And how many think of it even now? Most of us were lured into magic by the sensationalism of the art. But does that have a profound impact on the audience, or is it the proverbial “flash in the pan”? And seriously--Who believes that magician's have supernatural powers? Everyone knows it is an illusion. That you “do it with mirrors” or you have practiced legerdemain since you were twelve.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2017, 4:38 pm

do you think it wise to speak of others and their work when you know nothing of either?

YOU may not be able to convince people you have supernatural powers. That doesn't mean others can't.

and i can prove it.

1) uri gellar
2) david blaine
3) when you watch lord of the rings, do you say to yourself 'that's not real magic, he's just an actor' or do you instead feel a tingle that goes up the back of your spine when you hear those words 'thou shall not pass?'

the issue isn't that we need to convince them that we are real wizards. tne goal is to allow them to experience what it is like to be in front of a real wizard.

there is a huge difference there

you seem to be focused too much on methods. who cares how the trick is done? well, magicians do.

if you want to seek the approval of magicians all you need do are tricks slightly more difficult than you can master so magicians can appreciate how much time you have spent alone OR perform tricks that are just clever enough and generic enough that others can fantasize that they are the one's on stage but better.

if you want to impact real people: make them feel and feel deeply. you can do that with sleight of hand, you can do that with gimmicks. assuming of course you have truly mastered either.

and yes, you can convince people that magic is real and that they have experienced it - but only if you first believe it yourself.

as long as you focus (as you are ) on the primacy of methods, that will prove impossible.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby performer » March 10th, 2017, 4:58 pm

Mark who? As if I didn't know......................
I suppose I am the pensive type. I haven't read this thread yet and have no idea what it is all about yet. However, once I receive confirmation that I am the person indicated in the title I will weigh in on this most important and weighty matter once I find out what the hell it is all about.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby performer » March 10th, 2017, 5:51 pm

I have cursorily read the thread and now have a headache from it. I am still terribly vague about the matter and at first sight it all seems far too intellectual for my tired brain. I think my mistake is trying to read all the learned responses. Or possibly unlearned. I cannot yet say which is which since I haven't quite figured out what the issue is. I think my best course of action is to ignore all the responses and concentrate on the original post that started the discussion off in the first place.

One moment please. Oh bloody hell! There are two questions instead of one. Far too much for my aged brain. I shall try the first question which is actually quite complicated because it is two questions in one. I know it looks like three choices but it is actually two since I tend to lump in sleight of hand and clever gimmickry into one question and stage illusion into the second category. And I don't know if the first category is applying to close up magic or stage or perhaps both. This is all terribly complicated to my tired mind. It sounds a bit like the war in Syria with all sorts of different factions both agreeing and fighting which each other at the same time. I feel like I am trying to untangle a shoelace or doing one of those awfully convoluted rope tricks that magicians bore audiences to death with.

Let me calm down and deal with one tiny part of this. I will deal with the rest of the mess later. Let us assume that stage illusions is a different category from the sleight of hand option/ gimmick option category. And I am going to make it so even if it isn't otherwise I will get all confused and give up. I shall say the phrase "apples and oranges" seems to apply here. You are comparing apples to oranges and so there is no answer to the question.

So that is my long winded answer to one part of the question without much of an answer. I really should have become a mentalist. I will deal with the rest of this later when my brain is ready to sort the rest of the tangled question out.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 10th, 2017, 6:05 pm

performer wrote:I have cursorily read the thread and now have a headache from it. I am still terribly vague about the matter and at first sight it all seems far too intellectual for my tired brain. I think my mistake is trying to read all the learned responses. Or possibly unlearned. I cannot yet say which is which since I haven't quite figured out what the issue is. I think my best course of action is to ignore all the responses and concentrate on the original post that started the discussion off in the first place.

One moment please. Oh bloody hell! There are two questions instead of one. Far too much for my aged brain. I shall try the first question which is actually quite complicated because it is two questions in one. I know it looks like three choices but it is actually two since I tend to lump in sleight of hand and clever gimmickry into one question and stage illusion into the second category. And I don't know if the first category is applying to close up magic or stage or perhaps both. This is all terribly complicated to my tired mind. It sounds a bit like the war in Syria with all sorts of different factions both agreeing and fighting which each other at the same time. I feel like I am trying to untangle a shoelace or doing one of those awfully convoluted rope tricks that magicians bore audiences to death with.

Let me calm down and deal with one tiny part of this. I will deal with the rest of the mess later. Let us assume that stage illusions is a different category from the sleight of hand option/ gimmick option category. And I am going to make it so even if it isn't otherwise I will get all confused and give up. I shall say the phrase "apples and oranges" seems to apply here. You are comparing apples to oranges and so there is no answer to the question.

So that is my long winded answer to one part of the question without much of an answer. I really should have become a mentalist. I will deal with the rest of this later when my brain is ready to sort the rest of the tangled question out.


The question (or questions) need not be answered for my benefit, Mark. I had this discussion with myself earlier and I thought others might benefit from a similar soul search. Basically--What sort of magic makes magicians look better to the audience? Do they admire you more for surprising them, or for demonstrating great skill? I know you can do both, but what is the real mystique? Know-How or ability?

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby performer » March 10th, 2017, 6:42 pm

I shall answer this question when my brain is working. I am a trifle exhausted at the moment from extracting money from the undeserving public. Of course when my energy is replenished my answer can naturally be regarded as gospel. I shall merely say for the moment that "great skill" should be hidden. Art that hides art you know. It is idle of course that to think that the audience isn't somehow aware of your skill to some degree but it should be hidden as much you can possibly manage.

And know how is always superior to ability. After all you can't have the ability without the know how. And it is better all things being equal to fool the mind rather than the eyes. By all means fool the eyes to some extent but it should not be excessive. Think of a salt or sauce on a meal. It is great in moderation but too much spoils the dish.

Gimmicks or sleight of hand? Use whatever method is most expedient. It is the EFFECT that counts. I am completely ruthless over methods. I don't give a stuff whether the trick uses sleight of hand, a double face card, a stacked deck or a mathematical principal. Or yes, even a gimmick. It is the final effect on the layman that counts. As Billy Mc'Comb used to say it is what comes out at the end of the sausage machine that matters.

I am very skilled at sleight of hand but if I come across an easier and more expedient method I will use that without hesitation. The REAL skill in being a magician is learning to handle PEOPLE. Magic is PEOPLE, first, last and always. PEOPLE.

The second thing you need is an interesting personality. And great attention to presentation and patter. This should be better than the trick itself.
But don't pay lip service to this concept like most magicians do. You actually have to do something about it. It is not a separate issue. It is part and parcel of your work.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2017, 6:45 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:but what is the real mystique? Know-How or ability?


power

specifically the power to intentionally convey feelingful responses.

everything else is a matter of taste and interest.

and you keep conflating/confusing method and media.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby performer » March 10th, 2017, 9:41 pm

OK. I will comment further even though I am still not completely clear as to what the question is. I do agree that close up sleight of hand can often be more powerful that stage magic because of the intimacy of the situation. There is nothing more powerful that something done right under your nose. On the other hand stage magic certainly has it's place but it is a different kettle of fish entirely and as I say comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Close up and stage magic are two entirely different animals with their own set of rules.

However, as I have already stated when performing close up you there is no law saying you have to use sleight of hand anyway, particularly for card magic as there so many options available. However, less of those options are open to you when doing other kinds of close up magic such as with coins, cigarettes, thimbles etc; and you are far more likely to find sleight of hand useful in those situations.

But remember presentation is the key no matter what way you end up working.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jack Shalom » March 11th, 2017, 8:13 am

I suspect the poster is asking whether a gambling demo is as effective for an audience as a sawing in half illusion.

The simple answer is: it depends. Depends on the audience's taste and performer's skill.

And a singer or juggler might impress them even more.

A side issue was brought up about whether some audiences think magicians have supernatural powers. Brad brought up Gellar and Blaine as positive examples. But those are two performers who did not market themselves as magicians. And last I looked, in recent centuries in the West, no one has been burned at the stake or had to re-write The Discoverie of Witchcraft.

I can be moved by Macbeth without thinking that I was in the presence of mass murderers. Otherwise, I would get out of my comfortable theater seat and run to the nearest exit screaming.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 11th, 2017, 12:07 pm

but WHILE you are watching macbeth (skillfully performed) you allow yourself to believe and be affected as if you have been.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2017, 2:03 pm

Jack Shalom wrote:...I can be moved by Macbeth without thinking that I was in the presence of mass murderers. Otherwise, I would get out of my comfortable theater seat and run to the nearest exit screaming.


? you forgot about the jig at the end of the show where the actors dance and bid the audience adieu? What happens on "that" side of the proscenium arch stays on that side.

By convention in the performing arts what's true inside the theater/show is not necessarily true outside - for example the deaths onstage during Macbeth are not necessarily going to show up in the daily paper next day - well maybe if the reviews pan the show but you get the idea. Years ago I suggested the example of a production of Romeo and Juliet where the leads are seemingly replaced each night. Also a production of Peter Pan where the wires are invisible and the curtain call of the title character (or tinkerbell) has them apparently snatching a child from the audience and flying away with them.

The audience knows it's not storybook magic happening in real life. They know it's pretend. They know it's a con aimed at being perplexed and delighted - and they've known that since before that moral epistle folks like to cite about trickery and "tell me how it's done and I lose all interest".

It's 2017. You are likely presenting a bit of humor by way of flawed rhetoric. What do you want them to believe on the way in and how do you want them to react to the impossible conclusion of the specious argument? Your choices.
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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2017, 2:13 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:... Personally I believe that skilled handling of ordinary objects is the classiest kind of act one can do...


That's called juggling and audiences love it. The magical effect of animation has evolved into puppetry/ventriloquism and audiences love that too.

Most of the time folks look at paintings to see the image presented not to admire brushstrokes or choice of paints and canvas.

If you're going to do magic - focus on the magic: what does the performer (pathos) claim about the world (ethos) which they demonstrate (logos)

I'm not enjoying raking an argument over the basic givens of the arts and known human nature - here's a comic sign off for this post: Yes I suppose you could perform a version of the cups and balls with a low barrier on the table and claim to be using the world's fastest trained snails but... maybe hold back on the slime production?
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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 11th, 2017, 2:47 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote:... Personally I believe that skilled handling of ordinary objects is the classiest kind of act one can do...


That's called juggling and audiences love it. The magical effect of animation has evolved into puppetry/ventriloquism and audiences love that too.

Most of the time folks look at paintings to see the image presented not to admire brushstrokes or choice of paints and canvas.

If you're going to do magic - focus on the magic: what does the performer (pathos) claim about the world (ethos) which they demonstrate (logos)

I'm not enjoying raking an argument over the basic givens of the arts and known human nature - here's a comic sign off for this post: Yes I suppose you could perform a version of the cups and balls with a low barrier on the table and claim to be using the world's fastest trained snails but... maybe hold back on the slime production?


My emphasis (though hard to detect without the use of italics) was on the "ordinary objects". The "skilled handling" is of course something every performer ought to strive for. But from the audience's point of view, I think that props which are clearly ungimmicked make for the most amazing routines, and are more praiseworthy due to the fact that the effect must have been a result of the magician's dexterity rather than the manufacturer's design.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 11th, 2017, 3:05 pm

jack, we agree on the issue. we are merely quibbling over timing.

the neurochemcal response to the experience of a thing is identical regardless of the reality of that thing. a convincing falsehood triggers the brain intne same way as reality.

if you want that to stop when the curtain comes down, so be it. if you want it to keep going, that's a personal ethical, artistic decision.

but it CAN be done. people believe things that are untrue all the time. they believe magnets make them stronger. why then is believing a man can bend a spoon or cause a card to change too great a leap?

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2017, 3:47 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:...The "skilled handling" is of course something every performer ought to strive for. But from the audience's point of view, I think that props which are clearly ungimmicked make for the most amazing routines, and are more praiseworthy due to the fact that the effect must have been a result of the magician's dexterity rather than the manufacturer's design.


That looks like a paraphrase of the Robert-Houdin line about dexterity versus deftness but misses his argument about "prestidigitation"=language misdirection.

??? not their use of dark arts - hitherto unknown principles of physics - some quirk or perception or as evidence of the local geometry being non-euclidean... not to mention the eminent awakening of Cthulhu? meh! Didn't you get the errata sheet for "R-H'
s Secrets of Conjuring..." with line "the magician-entertainer is a sorcerer playing the part of a lecturer demonstrating technology while secretly draining the cognitive power of his audience - using undetected skills rather than open claims of belief " with the designs for credulity capture and refinement devices to be placed around the audience?
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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 11th, 2017, 4:14 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote:...The "skilled handling" is of course something every performer ought to strive for. But from the audience's point of view, I think that props which are clearly ungimmicked make for the most amazing routines, and are more praiseworthy due to the fact that the effect must have been a result of the magician's dexterity rather than the manufacturer's design.


That looks like a paraphrase of the Robert-Houdin line about dexterity versus deftness but misses his argument about "prestidigitation"=language misdirection.

??? not their use of dark arts - hitherto unknown principles of physics - some quirk or perception or as evidence of the local geometry being non-euclidean... not to mention the eminent awakening of Cthulhu? meh! Didn't you get the errata sheet for "R-H'
s Secrets of Conjuring..." with line "the magician-entertainer is a sorcerer playing the part of a lecturer demonstrating technology while secretly draining the cognitive power of his audience - using undetected skills rather than open claims of belief " with the designs for credulity capture and refinement devices to be placed around the audience?


I am not saying that the audience needs to see the performer's moves in order to appreciate them. It is the inference that such an indetectable move must have occured that tends to be admired, as opposed to the notion that the magician merely activated some kind of mechanism.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 11th, 2017, 6:11 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:What sort of magic is most impressive to an audience? Sleight of hand, clever gimmickry, or stage illusion?

The answer is ...
Clever gimmickry!

jkeyes1000 wrote:Clever gimmicky is akin to cheap novelties, practical jokes. It makes audiences feel more cheated than treated.

Au contraire!

Clever gimmickry is at the heart of many of magic's greatest effects. The shell in a billiard ball routine. The magnet in a chop cup. Everything produced by Todd Lassen, who's clever gimmicks, while often novel, are never cheap!

It was clever gimmickry that allowed Harry Blackstone to vanish a birdcage at his fingertips.

It was clever gimmickry that enabled David Blaine to reach through the glass of a jewelry store window, remove a watch, and leave both his hand and the window UNSCATHED!

It is through clever gimmickry that I can cause a copper and a brass coin held in my left hand to transpose with a silver coin held in my right, in a very magical looking way. More magical looking than any method that would use pure skill and ordinary objects.

jkeyes1000 wrote:Personally I believe that skilled handling of ordinary objects is the classiest kind of act one can do.

I don't know about "classy", but the most impressive magic is created by the skilled handling of cleverly gimmicked items.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 11th, 2017, 6:35 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote:What sort of magic is most impressive to an audience? Sleight of hand, clever gimmickry, or stage illusion?

The answer is ...
Clever gimmickry!

jkeyes1000 wrote:Clever gimmicky is akin to cheap novelties, practical jokes. It makes audiences feel more cheated than treated.

Au contraire!

Clever gimmickry is at the heart of many of magic's greatest effects. The shell in a billiard ball routine. The magnet in a chop cup. Everything produced by Todd Lassen, who's clever gimmicks, while often novel, are never cheap!

It was clever gimmickry that allowed Harry Blackstone to vanish a birdcage at his fingertips.

It was clever gimmickry that enabled David Blaine to reach through the glass of a jewelry store window, remove a watch, and leave both his hand and the window UNSCATHED!

It is through clever gimmickry that I can cause a copper and a brass coin held in my left hand to transpose with a silver coin held in my right, in a very magical looking way. More magical looking than any method that would use pure skill and ordinary objects.

jkeyes1000 wrote:Personally I believe that skilled handling of ordinary objects is the classiest kind of act one can do.

I don't know about "classy", but the most impressive magic is created by the skilled handling of cleverly gimmicked items.


I certainly agree that a clever device is an impressive thing in itself, but does the audience credit the performer or the inventor? My personal favorite type of routine is the pseudo scientific demonstration of a new method or contraption, but the average magician relies on more or less standard effects. It would be ideal if we could all boast of something original and unique to ourselves. I just think it makes magicians look relatively lazy when they use special equipment. The audience may suppose that the performer has little or nothing to do with the miracle.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 11th, 2017, 7:23 pm

I can only speak from my own personal experience (about 25 years) as a professional magician. Spectator reaction is generally the strongest to those tricks that come the closest to looking like what real magic would look like. When I say "come the closest" I mean that in very few, if any, cases have people actually told me that they believe I can perform real magic, i.e., that I have supernatural powers. Now, if anyone out there happens to have had a different experience, and has actually convinced others that they actually do possess such powers, well, all the more "power" to them, and Congratulations!

I agree with Performer that presentation is paramount, but putting that aside, I can only say which effects (irrespective of method) virtually always have the strongest impact. And I am measuring impact by audience reaction. Those effects are as follows: (1) Selected card rises out the deck while encased in the card box held by the spectator; (2) Signed card that has ostensibly been placed into middle of the deck, which is then tightly secured by a rubber band, ends up on the ceiling after deck is tossed up; (3) Their borrowed signed bill floats in the air and moves eerily about; (4) Three lemons are produced one after another at the end of a chop cup routine using an ordinary coffee cup or mug and a grape or olive; (5) Aces change visibly and simultaneously into Queens at the end of Magician versus Gambler routine; (6) Classic Three Card Monte routine with un-gimmicked cards, with bent corner finish, and a kicker of the three cards then turning visibly into 5 one-hundred dollar bills with just a quick shake of the cards; (7) Spectator cuts to the four aces (or alternatively, deals the four aces or royal flush to him/herself) after he or she has shuffled the deck; (8) The Invisible Deck (or alternatively, the Brainwave Deck); (9) The Snap Change (Yes, I know it's just a "move" but they go crazy over it, regardless of the context or routine in which it is performed).

My impression from the many comments over many years, is that the spectators know or believe I accomplished these effects by means of skill, but that they saw nothing and have absolutely no idea of by what method it could have been accomplished (with the exception, in some cases, of the floating bill). I would add that I am in the process of working on a signed bill to lemon routine, and although I have never performed the routine, I do believe that if I am ever fortunate enough to be able to perform it deceptively, it will have as strong, if not stronger impact, than any of the foregoing effects. Just the sheer impossibility of it.... We'll see. I know other magicians who have performed it, and spectators who have witnessed it, who can vouch for the incredible punch it packs. Furthermore, although I do not perform signed card to (zippered compartment of a) wallet, I have frequently had spectators recount to me how blown away they were having seen a magician perform that effect.

I learned long ago that, in the end, it's not so much what I believe is the strongest, but that THEY will let me know what is the strongest...

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby erdnasephile » March 11th, 2017, 7:28 pm

To offer a respectful dissent to Mr. Keyes' post: this classic routine is accomplished with very clever gimmicks, skill, and a winning presentation. However, I suspect the spectators are very willing to give Lu Chen "credit" because he's the one who created this very magical moment for them:




Jim Steinmeyer has written at length countering the shade many magicians throw at apparatus magic. Jonathan Pendragon is also an superb performer of grand illusion and very eloquent in his discussions of the power of same. In his performances, there is no hint of simply "activating a mechanism", just artistry.

The experience of wonder can be provided to audiences using most any kind of tool: apparatus, gimmicks, manipulation, ordinary objects, objects rarely seen, and no props at all. The overt skill vs. no overt skill debate is a legitimate one, but I do not believe those are mutually exclusive options--they are simply artistic choices, IMHO.

In sum, I agree with both Brad's and Mark. It's not the trick: it's the magician.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2017, 8:36 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:... Clever gimmickry is at the heart of many of magic's greatest effects. The shell in a billiard ball routine. The magnet in a chop cup. Everything produced by Todd Lassen, who's clever gimmicks, while often novel...


Clever gimmickry may be at the heart of the method - but please don't confuse that with the effect.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 11th, 2017, 8:58 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:My impression from the many comments over many years, is that the spectators know or believe I accomplished these effects by means of skill, but that they saw nothing and have absolutely no idea of by what method it could have been accomplished (with the exception, in some cases, of the floating bill). I would add that I am in the process of working on a signed bill to lemon routine, and although I have never performed the routine, I do believe that if I am ever fortunate enough to be able to perform it deceptively, it will have as strong, if not stronger impact, than any of the foregoing effects. Just the sheer impossibility of it.... We'll see. I know other magicians who have performed it, and spectators who have witnessed it, who can vouch for the incredible punch it packs. Furthermore, although I do not perform signed card to (zippered compartment of a) wallet, I have frequently had spectators recount to me how blown away they were having seen a magician perform that effect.

I learned long ago that, in the end, it's not so much what I believe is the strongest, but that THEY will let me know what is the strongest...


I quite agree, and thanks for your insightful response! We need to consider the audience's perspective. I have no disdain for any particular type of magic trick. As I said above, They all have their potential. And presentation is of the greatest importance, engaging the crowd. Because of all the variables, including personality and stage presence, it is impossible to judge effects solely on the volume of applause each one receives. I'm talking about a deeper respect for the art of magic, a lasting impression. A sense that the magician has achieved something rather than simply acquired the technical means of bewilderment.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2017, 11:02 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:...We need to consider the audience's perspective...

There's the effect :)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 11th, 2017, 11:41 pm

all that matters is how you make them feel.

if you want them to feel respect, make choices that convey that feelingful respnse.

method is irrelevant unless you choose to make it so

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby erdnasephile » March 12th, 2017, 11:21 am

Brad Henderson wrote:all that matters is how you make them feel.

if you want them to feel respect, make choices that convey that feelingful respnse.

method is irrelevant unless you choose to make it so


Brad: I concur, but I'd like to please raise a question into the discussion: Is method completely irrelevant? Doesn't method affect effect? That is, if the method is poor and wholly unconvincing, one might make the audience feel like I am incompetent and disrespectful (kind of like how those rubber Sleestak costumes just ruined LOTL when I was a kid). Wouldn't a sounder method make it easier to maintain the illusion I wish to create? (I suspect there are exceptions for really amazing performers: I always read that Paul Daniels could enthrall an audience with a phone book).

MagicbyAlfred wrote:I can only speak from my own personal experience (about 25 years) as a professional magician. Spectator reaction is generally the strongest to those tricks that come the closest to looking like what real magic would look like.


Hi, Alfred--very much appreciate your post. Just to play devil's advocate for a moment: if we had real magic, would that impact the choice of effects we would do? For me: I don't think I'd mess around with most of the card effects I do (except perhaps the gambling stuff) or spend time making coins going hand to hand (Misers Dream would be a possibility). Mentalism would be possible, but it'd be more than just predicting words in a book. The predictions would have to have real world meaning and would probably be accompanied by real world actions--anonymous or otherwise. Now that I consider this: I think if I really had magic powers, I'd probably hide them since I would likely be feared and hated by the world I had sworn to protect... ;)

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 12th, 2017, 12:33 pm

Erdnasephile,

Yes, if we possessed real magical powers, it would indeed impact the choice of effects we would do. That is why I commented that I believed the strongest effects were those that come the closest to looking like real magic. In other words, we are attempting to simulate real magic within the parameters of the skill level and methods at our disposal. Only once or twice since I have been performing the rising card in spectators hand has a spectator detected the method (through my own carelessness). But the 99% of the time that it came off without a hitch, the reaction was super-strong.

It was strong when I first started doing the trick, wherein I (as opposed to the spectator) was the one holding the card box with the deck inside, and the card rose up. It was still a very potent and magical effect because of the visual rising movement, but not nearly as powerful as when i started doing it in the spectator's own hand, which added extra layers of impossibility, conviction, and Magicality - and hence of astonishment. Of course, it would be exponentially stronger and even more astonishing if i could have a spectator wave his hand above his/her drink and have it slowly rise above the table, or have them think of a number between one and a million, and then tell them what it was straight away. . And I would certainly do those effects if I could, and I would then have far more exceedingly lucrative bookings than I could handle. Or perhaps, if I had that kind of power, I would just stay home and conjure up gold and silver. But as you have suggested, short of that, the Miser's dream will have to do...

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 12th, 2017, 12:34 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Erdnasephile,

Yes, if we possessed real magical powers, it would indeed impact the choice of effects we would do. That is why I commented that I believed the strongest effects were those that come the closest to looking like real magic. In other words, we are attempting to simulate real magic within the parameters of the skill level and methods at our disposal. Only twice since I have been performing the rising card in spectators hand has a spectator detected the method (through my own carelessness). But the 99% of the time that it came off without a hitch, the reaction was super-strong.

It was strong when I first started doing the trick, wherein I (as opposed to the spectator) was the one holding the card box with the deck inside, and the card rose up. It was still a very potent and magical effect because of the visual rising movement, but not nearly as powerful as when i started doing it in the spectator's own hand, which added extra layers of impossibility, conviction, and Magicality - and hence of astonishment. Of course, it would be exponentially stronger and even more astonishing if i could have a spectator wave his hand above his/her drink and have it slowly rise above the table, or have them think of a number between one and a million, and then tell them what it was straight away. . And I would certainly do those effects if I could, and I would then have far more exceedingly lucrative bookings than I could handle. Or perhaps, if I had that kind of power, I would just stay home and conjure up gold and silver. But as you have suggested, short of that, the Miser's dream will have to do...

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 12th, 2017, 12:36 pm

I don't think any of us here question the importance of character in the presentation of a trick, whether it be deadly serious or comedic. The ability to tell a story, or to dramatise an otherwise simple effect can make all the difference. But I am speaking in general terms about the average magician. Now I know that none of you are merely "average", but don't you think that the typical performer ought to consider material that ennobles him or her in the eyes of the public, and thus enhances the reputation of the profession at large? As most working magicians (let's face it) rely almost solely on patented effects, and those that require the least amount of practice and skill, would it not be a good idea to at least pretend that we are making an effort, rather than boasting of easily tapping into some supernatural power? If what we are trying to do is mislead the audience in order to cover up our gimmickry, I should think the way to do that is to persuade them that we are labouring.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 12th, 2017, 4:31 pm

erdnasephile,

yes. method does affect effect. but it is relevant to this discussion only to the degree it does.

what type of method it is is irrelevant in its own sake. the only thing that matters is how it affects the effect - and as the audience should be completely unaware of the method, we can divorce it from relevance to the topic

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Brad Henderson » March 12th, 2017, 4:35 pm

jkeyes1000 wrote:I don't think any of us here question the importance of character in the presentation of a trick, whether it be deadly serious or comedic. The ability to tell a story, or to dramatise an otherwise simple effect can make all the difference. But I am speaking in general terms about the average magician. Now I know that none of you are merely "average", but don't you think that the typical performer ought to consider material that ennobles him or her in the eyes of the public, and thus enhances the reputation of the profession at large? As most working magicians (let's face it) rely almost solely on patented effects, and those that require the least amount of practice and skill, would it not be a good idea to at least pretend that we are making an effort, rather than boasting of easily tapping into some supernatural power? If what we are trying to do is mislead the audience in order to cover up our gimmickry, I should think the way to do that is to persuade them that we are labouring.


why?

i would pay a fortune to see someone who could blink his eyes and cause an object to levitate. especially if it seemed effortless.

i have seen scores of people sweat and futz as they try to control cards in a shuffle. i'm may appreciate the skill, but i can't say that i would be 'moved'

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 12th, 2017, 7:06 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:
jkeyes1000 wrote:I don't think any of us here question the importance of character in the presentation of a trick, whether it be deadly serious or comedic. The ability to tell a story, or to dramatise an otherwise simple effect can make all the difference. But I am speaking in general terms about the average magician. Now I know that none of you are merely "average", but don't you think that the typical performer ought to consider material that ennobles him or her in the eyes of the public, and thus enhances the reputation of the profession at large? As most working magicians (let's face it) rely almost solely on patented effects, and those that require the least amount of practice and skill, would it not be a good idea to at least pretend that we are making an effort, rather than boasting of easily tapping into some supernatural power? If what we are trying to do is mislead the audience in order to cover up our gimmickry, I should think the way to do that is to persuade them that we are labouring.


why?

i would pay a fortune to see someone who could blink his eyes and cause an object to levitate. especially if it seemed effortless.

i have seen scores of people sweat and futz as they try to control cards in a shuffle. i'm may appreciate the skill, but i can't say that i would be 'moved'


Because I believe that the general public not only knows that magicians don't possess supernatural powers, they appreciate it when they realise that performers actually work for a living like everybody else. You may astonish them with the pretense of power at your fingertips, but I think they value your talents more if they come of dedication and experience rather than some kind of privilege or "gift". And besides, the average performer is less likely to convince anyone that he or she is psychic or telekinetic, thus they risk seeming terribly conceited.

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 12th, 2017, 7:54 pm

It's simpler to speak from experience to illustrate theory rather than vagueries of "them" and "it" and have this discussion degenerate into squabbling over semantics.

Presuming you have performed for others - what have you found works for your audiences?

What would you like to bring to your audiences in a form that permits them to take that away from the performance and share with others?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Philosophical debate for Mark and other pensive folk

Postby jkeyes1000 » March 12th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:It's simpler to speak from experience to illustrate theory rather than vagueries of "them" and "it" and have this discussion degenerate into squabbling over semantics.

Presuming you have performed for others - what have you found works for your audiences?

What would you like to bring to your audiences in a form that permits them to take that away from the performance and share with others?


I have more experience at failure than success when it comes to performing, but I am fairly good at psychology. I have not attempted to make a career out of stage magic lately. However, I make quite an impression on friends and acquaintances with my own routiines, and I think it is precisely because they DO NOT know me as a magician. I am admittedly an ordinary human being who has devised a clever way of deceiving them. I therefore have several advantages. I am in many ways no better than them, yet I manage to do something they cannot figure out. Their attitude is sort of, How did YOU do that? I could never in a million years! Tell me how you did it or I'll strangle you.

The level of respect I gain from this approach is far greater than anything I ever felt when presenting myself as a magician. I exceed their expectations far more now. Which is why I am reluctant to return to the profession. I fear it would be a let down. Even if I managed to make good money I still wouldn't get the satisfaction of truly blowing people away.


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