New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

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New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Jeffrey Cowan » March 15th, 2017, 1:15 pm

Nice profile in the New York Times (dated today) about Derek Delgaudio. [Factoid: my college buddy Marc Lacey, who is the NYT's deputy managing editor, used to act as my "bent corner" shill back in the day when we were socializing with women in bars and I deemed it strategic to do the 3 card monte.]

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/maga ... .html?_r=1
-- Jeffrey Cowan
www.cowan-law.com

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 16th, 2017, 8:21 pm

The extraordinarily lengthy New York Times Article in question begins as follows:

"The magician Derek DelGaudio sat in a Hollywood art gallery with several decks of cards before him. It was a February evening in 2011, and he faced a well-dressed audience of art-world people, whom he was keen to impress. Dressed in a black suit and matching Converse All-Stars, he instructed an attendee to “time me for a minute.” As the countdown commenced, he began dealing the cards wordlessly, with such force and rapidity that they soon overspilled the table. He finished off one deck and started on another, then another. When time was up, DelGaudio announced, “184 seconds in one minute — thank you very much,” then stood and walked away. Trick, as it were, over.
The performance was titled “184 Seconds,” and with it, DelGaudio obscured a virtuosic feat within a pantomime of banality."

I have absolutely no doubts as to Derek's ability in handling a deck of cards, but I can't help but wonder, what the point of that performance was, and the impact of it upon the observers? It appears that while the audience was comprised of "art-world" people, there is no indication that they were magicians. There are, of course, magicians quite likely to be impressed, or even to start a religion around, a fellow magician who could deal 184 seconds in one minute. Now, I realize that art world people are more likely than the average person to be open to the avant garden. But did they even understand what what was happening? Did they know what a second deal was, and even if they did, were they entertained by the demonstration?

I guess an exhibition of skill for skill's sake can be impressive on some level, assuming the ones watching understand what kind of skill is being exhibited. Perhaps because the audience was made up of art world people, they analogized what they witnessed to one of those abstract paintings that look like the artist threw a bunch of colors at the canvas, and they somehow read a deep meaning into it, and found the performance profound. Perhaps they just kind of chalked it up to one of those theatre of the absurd performances? I don't want to limit the definition of magic or magician, so I won't presume to say that the performance and performer failed to fall within the definition that night. But I would be quite curious to know how the performance was billed (e.g. magic show, demonstration crooked gambling prowess, etc.) What was the impact upon each member of the audience that evening; what were their expectations, what was their reaction and takeaway?

As for using the 3 Card Monte in a singles bar, and even employing one's own shill for the bent corner finish, hmmmm, that is an intriguing idea. What was the "strategy" behind it? Of course, tact will prevent me from prying any further and asking what the stake was...

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Richard Hatch » March 17th, 2017, 3:11 am

Alfred, I don't pretend to understand Derek's intent with "184 seconds" and haven't experience a performance of it, but when reading about it, it reminded me of one of composer John Cage's most famous compositions, "4' 33"". Here's a youtube video of a piano performance of all three movements: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTEFKFiXSx4
In interviews, Cage considered this his most important work, according to the Wikipedia entry on it.
Art does not need to explain itself... What Derek does is clearly not intended merely to entertain, and I do consider it art.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 12:43 pm

Richard Hatch wrote:Alfred, I don't pretend to understand Derek's intent with "184 seconds" and haven't experience a performance of it, but when reading about it, it reminded me of one of composer John Cage's most famous compositions, "4' 33"". Here's a youtube video of a piano performance of all three movements: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTEFKFiXSx4
In interviews, Cage considered this his most important work, according to the Wikipedia entry on it.
Art does not need to explain itself... What Derek does is clearly not intended merely to entertain, and I do consider it art.


Thanks for posting that Richard. I hope that I did not, and it was not my intent to, imply that what Derek did was not art. I would imagine that any definition of the term, "art," would have to be as expansive as any definition of magic. Indeed, I would say that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder...

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 3:06 pm

Richard, when you say a "piano performance" I must admit that I am confused. The "pianist" sat at the piano for over 6 minutes and never played a single note. I do not know what the point of this "performance" (actually non-performance) was. I am comfortable in saying it was neither music nor art. And, at least Derek did something with the cards, something that required some degree of skill - in fact a ton of skill. So I do not see wherein the comparison or analogy lies...Virtually anyone, even someone who is tone deaf and has never played so much a s a note on any instrument could have done what the "pianist" in the YouTube video did.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Brad Henderson » March 17th, 2017, 3:26 pm

why is it not music? what is music but sound organized by time?

what makes art art?

according to duchamp and others it is the artist's intention that conveys the condition of art.

when we place a frame around an object it becomes something more than the object.

is a birds song not music? what if that song is ugly? are there not ugly songs? what if that birds song is annoying? are there not annoying songs?

the difference isn't the song - the sounds - but how we frame it.

the rhythms of the city street can be as complex musically as any symphony. so when is it music and when is it noise?

that depends on intention. when the artist frames it as music it becomes music. (and yes, you can choose to be the artist and frame it yourself anytime you like)

cage's 4'33" is one of the most important pieces of music ever written because it distills all music down to its most quintessential definition, a definition free from subjectivity: sound organized by time.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 4:02 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:why is it not music? what is music but sound organized by time?

what makes art art?

according to duchamp and others it is the artist's intention that conveys the condition of art.

when we place a frame around an object it becomes something more than the object.

is a birds song not music? what if that song is ugly? are there not ugly songs? what if that birds song is annoying? are there not annoying songs?

the difference isn't the song - the sounds - but how we frame it.

the rhythms of the city street can be as complex musically as any symphony. so when is it music and when is it noise?

that depends on intention. when the artist frames it as music it becomes music. (and yes, you can choose to be the artist and frame it yourself anytime you like)

cage's 4'33" is one of the most important pieces of music ever written because it distills all music down to its most quintessential definition, a definition free from subjectivity: sound organized by time.


YES, indeed, there are ugly songs, but at least they are songs. I don't think that art can be distilled down exclusively to what the artist's "intention" is. If one purports to perform what he/she believes is art, then the audience or spectators figure heavily into the equation, as well. Otherwise, a serial killer, who poses his victims and intends it as art, is an "artist" and has performed a work of "art" because he intends it as art. In the end though, like I said, art (and music, as an art form) is in the eye of the beholder, and I guess it's all in how you define it - and that's a moving target depending on who's attempting to define it, or categorically stating a definition. I don't think it can logically be maintained that "4'33 distills music down to it's most quintessential definition, a definition free from subjectivity, sound organized by time..." 4'33 does not define music. It is not "sound organized by time," since there is no "sound," whatsoever. In your opinion, Brad, it is one of the most important pieces of music ever written, but in mine, it is not music, not important and not even written...

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 4:57 pm

Just to clarify. I realized my opinion may have been too strongly stated and unduly harsh. I respect anyone else's right and freedom to express themselves in any way imaginable - or unimaginable (except of course the aforementioned serial killers(

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Brad Henderson » March 17th, 2017, 6:04 pm

oh, but i think you are mistaken.

play the piece again and tell me honestly that there is 'no sound'

i can tell you that is patently untrue. And must be untrue - in any condition on earth.

the thing is, you may have listened. you definitely didn't hear. But sound is there.really listen.

if you need help, an artist recently recorded his experiences listening to that piece, one a day, every day, for a year. it comprises several volumes.

are you saying he heard nothing?

try it again.

and yes, serial killing CAN be the medium for art. I don't see why not. the fact it moves people so deeply may be one of its strongest, though most superficial, credentials.

as to the role of the audience, can not the artist also be the audience? is their designation not equally valid as a strangers? must all pieces of art be loved it appreciated by everyone to be art?

some people think jazz is noise. does that mean it isn't art?

clearly we know ART exists. we can disagree as to what we think is good or bad art, successful art v unsuccessful art but there must be something beyond subjectivity to qualify something as art.

it's intention. without intention you cannot have art. that's not my insight, that's duchamp. he pretty much nailed that. now art is more than just intention - it's an intention to convey a feelingful response through the manipulation of symbolic structures. again, not mine, but suzanne langer. but she's right. again, what is art if not that? what isn't art that is that?

and i have yet to find a better definition of music than sound organized by time. can you think of a single piece of music for which that is not uniquely true? does that definition describe anything else that is not music? (again, good or bad music is subjective. listen to the cage piece again. i mean, really listen. the music is there. it's just not coming from where it is expected!)

(and don't worry about impassioned tone. Discussions of art can and perhaps should be heated. it's not personal. it's passion. )

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Bill Mullins » March 17th, 2017, 6:22 pm

Arguing about "what is art" is pretty pointless, unless you know the other party wants to argue. If Alfred thinks Cage's piece isn't art, then it isn't art to him. But he doesn't get to make that call for anyone else.

Here's another potential definition. Art is what an Artist uses to convey [something] -- where [something] usually has an emotional component. 4'33" certainly does that.

Michelangelo's David started out as a big piece of rock, but the sculptor took parts away and left the statue. Is the art in what is left, or in what is taken away? The empty parts count, too. So 4'33" consists of empty parts. But it also consists of the listener, and the performer, and what happens in the exchange between them.

Sit in a quiet room for 4-1/2 minutes. Then "listen" to 4'33", knowing that it was composed by a musician. You get a different experience (in the case of the latter, the experience, as it seems to be for Alfred, may be WTF?) But the difference is why 4'33" is art.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 7:44 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Arguing about "what is art" is pretty pointless, unless you know the other party wants to argue. If Alfred thinks Cage's piece isn't art, then it isn't art to him. But he doesn't get to make that call for anyone else.

Here's another potential definition. Art is what an Artist uses to convey [something] -- where [something] usually has an emotional component. 4'33" certainly does that.

Michelangelo's David started out as a big piece of rock, but the sculptor took parts away and left the statue. Is the art in what is left, or in what is taken away? The empty parts count, too. So 4'33" consists of empty parts. But it also consists of the listener, and the performer, and what happens in the exchange between them.

Sit in a quiet room for 4-1/2 minutes. Then "listen" to 4'33", knowing that it was composed by a musician. You get a different experience (in the case of the latter, the experience, as it seems to be for Alfred, may be WTF?) But the difference is why 4'33" is art.


Bill, I agree that arguing about what is art is pointless, but I didn't think this was an argument at all, but rather the expression of opinions. The fact that there are radically differing ones is what makes a topic stimulating and invites lively discussion among the Members.

And now I kind of feel like I have to defend myself. You stated that "[Alfred] doesn't get to make that call for anyone else." I honestly don't know if you intended to imply that I have been trying to make that call for anyone else, but for the record, I'll re-produce the pertinent part of my last post:

"I respect anyone else's right and freedom to express themselves in any way imaginable - or unimaginable (except of course the aforementioned serial killers)."

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 7:49 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:oh, but i think you are mistaken.

play the piece again and tell me honestly that there is 'no sound'

i can tell you that is patently untrue. And must be untrue - in any condition on earth.

the thing is, you may have listened. you definitely didn't hear. But sound is there.really listen.

if you need help, an artist recently recorded his experiences listening to that piece, one a day, every day, for a year. it comprises several volumes.

are you saying he heard nothing?

try it again.

and yes, serial killing CAN be the medium for art. I don't see why not. the fact it moves people so deeply may be one of its strongest, though most superficial, credentials.

as to the role of the audience, can not the artist also be the audience? is their designation not equally valid as a strangers? must all pieces of art be loved it appreciated by everyone to be art?

some people think jazz is noise. does that mean it isn't art?

clearly we know ART exists. we can disagree as to what we think is good or bad art, successful art v unsuccessful art but there must be something beyond subjectivity to qualify something as art.

it's intention. without intention you cannot have art. that's not my insight, that's duchamp. he pretty much nailed that. now art is more than just intention - it's an intention to convey a feelingful response through the manipulation of symbolic structures. again, not mine, but suzanne langer. but she's right. again, what is art if not that? what isn't art that is that?

and i have yet to find a better definition of music than sound organized by time. can you think of a single piece of music for which that is not uniquely true? does that definition describe anything else that is not music? (again, good or bad music is subjective. listen to the cage piece again. i mean, really listen. the music is there. it's just not coming from where it is expected!)

(and don't worry about impassioned tone. Discussions of art can and perhaps should be heated. it's not personal. it's passion. )


I hear you Brad, and I enjoy that you are outspoken about what you are passionate about. I know that there was technically "sound," I guess what I was trying to say was that I didn't really hear what I (personally, subjectively) consider music. It might well be that I am simply too shallow to comprehend or appreciate the profundity of the piece.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 17th, 2017, 7:55 pm

PS And in saying "I respect anyone else's right and freedom to express themselves in any way imaginable - or unimaginable etc." I mean the freedom of composer, pianist and audience of 4'33 as well as that of those expressing themselves on this Forum.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Bill Mullins » March 17th, 2017, 11:50 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:And now I kind of feel like I have to defend myself. You stated that "[Alfred] doesn't get to make that call for anyone else." I honestly don't know if you intended to imply that I have been trying to make that call for anyone else, but for the record, I'll re-produce the pertinent part of my last post:

"I respect anyone else's right and freedom to express themselves in any way imaginable - or unimaginable (except of course the aforementioned serial killers)."


Sorry for putting you in a position where you feel you should defend yourself -- that was not my intention. What I was (clumsily) trying to say was that your definition of art is yours and doesn't (cannot?) work for anyone else, art being so subjective and personal and all. (and FWIW, I don't get much from 4'33", either.)

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 18th, 2017, 1:35 am

Yes, understood, Bill. I think I was probably unduly defensive, in any event. And i completely agree with your point that any definition of art is personal and subjective.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Brad Henderson » March 18th, 2017, 9:18 am

i think that's painting with an overly broad brush. We can disagree as to what is good art, or art we like - but the idea that what constitutes art cannot be defined is a stroke too far.

otherwise nothing is art, or everything is art.

obviously neither is true, or useful.

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 18th, 2017, 2:48 pm

Painting with an overly broad brush. Nice metaphor in a discussion about art. I don't think that anyone has suggested that art is not capable of definition, but rather that what constitutes art is inherently subjective and personal. Case in point: the differing viewpoints on this very thread as to whether 4'33 is art. Even assuming that art can be defined, the difficulty would lie in getting a consensus of agreement as to what that definition would be. It is interesting to me that this is a subject that has been widely discussed at least since Plato's time if not before - and not surprisingly, one of wildly divergent and differing viewpoints. This link to an article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (entitled, "The Definition of Art") shows that there has been radical and widespread disagreement down through the ages, among many illustrious philosophers, thinkers and logicians, as to what the definition of art is, or should, be, and even as to whether there should be any attempt to define it, or any point in trying. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/art-definition/

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Re: New York Times profile today on Derek Delgaudio

Postby Jonathan Pendragon » March 19th, 2017, 1:19 am

I haven't read through all of this, but the pianist strikes me as a set piece, a piece of scenery. Scenery has a point often beyond creating a construct the audience can relate to. It can be evocative in it's silence: perhaps a piano is a mute instrument until it is played by and artist, it can't make art by itself, neither can a deck of playing cards. That was probably already explored in earlier posts. I was finishing up another very personal Panmagium and decided to check the forum.


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