Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

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Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby David Ben » December 20th, 2017, 6:48 pm


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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Dustin Stinett » December 21st, 2017, 3:06 am

Excellent news for magic and its legitimacy as an art form. David, do you have an idea how long the search for the Chair holder will take?
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby David Ben » December 21st, 2017, 7:58 am

Probably a few months. I imagine they will announce the Chair in the spring. Not sure yet when classes start. Either September 2018 or, more likely, January 2019.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2017, 3:16 pm

I don't think magic is an art. And if it was it wouldn't need legitimacy.

That said - Allan is one of the best people in magic. So I wish him well.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 21st, 2017, 3:34 pm

I DO think magic is an art. I just wish it wasn't taught to all and sundry. The less people doing it the better.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby David Ben » December 21st, 2017, 4:24 pm

I tend to agree with Joe. For me, Magic is more of a craft that can be, when it is in the hands of an artist, an art. Unfortunately, artists in magic are few and far between. Hopefully this program at Carleton will raise the level for all concerned or interested.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2017, 4:39 pm

For me Penn & Teller is about as good as it gets in magic. But my sense with P&T is they aspire to be entertainers rather than artists.

Penn once said that art is easy. What is hard is entertainment. If you are playing to smart people - you have to work very hard when it comes to being entertaining.

Penn once mentioned a comedian who dismissed another comedian as, "Funny - but with nothing to say". And that is how react to good entertainment. It has to be working on a lot of levels to really satisfy. I guess some people might call that art but I don't.

I have seen P&T once live and a bunch of times on TV. And each time I have loved their work - but as quality entertainment. Not as art. But to me that is a very big compliment. Since - as Penn says - art is easy. I mean a blank canvas can be classed as art.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Robert77 » December 21st, 2017, 5:21 pm

I'm curious as to what makes magic a craft, and say, painting, an art?

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Marco Pusterla » December 21st, 2017, 5:44 pm

Magic is NOT art. Not always. To have art, you must express your creative imaginative skills, and most "magicians" are (good) performers of other people's imagination (=tricks). Magic doesn't often have "beauty" in its representation, and often the only feeling that it raises is that of puzzlement: "how is that possible? How has (s)he done it?". Not art.

Very few magicians are artists.

Most of them are craftsmen.

Few of them are good craftsmen.

Very few.
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Denis Behr » December 21st, 2017, 5:51 pm

Marco Pusterla wrote:Magic is NOT art. Not always.

What is always an art? I don't know of anything.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 21st, 2017, 6:28 pm

I believe PASSIONATELY that magic IS an art! Of course it is a bloody art! Just because 90 percent of magicians are not artists is not the fault of the art itself. In fact 90 percent of magicians are not even craftsmen. I don't think I have seen 50 good magicians in my entire life.

Years ago it was explained to me by veteran professional Mark Raffles why magic was an art. I was talking to him on Central Pier, Blackpool where he was working. He said words to the effect that it was such a vast subject with hundreds of books written about it that it had to be an art. When one book devotes hundreds of pages to a single trick or in some cases a single sleight that is proof enough that magic is an art. When you read a book devoting hundreds of pages to the theory of magic you know, you just KNOW it is an art.

I for one KNOW it is an art, I feel it in my very being. In my gut. It is an art as beautiful and wonderful as anything that Michelangelo could come up with. Just because the people that trivialise it, expose it, teach it badly, perform it badly, use toilet humour, profanity and drag it into the gutter does not mean it is not an art. They may not treat it as an art but that is not the fault of the art itself. If a dog is beaten to a pulp and lies bleeding on the ground it still remains a dog. And just because the art of magic has been damaged beyond measure by mediocrity it still remains an art. Too many brilliant minds have devoted countless hours to the creation of the art form, the psychology of the art form and the performance of the art form for it not to be an art form. It is creative art and performance art.

Luckily there are still a tiny few ARTISTS in magic that still treat it as an ART. Cy Endfield once pointed out that Vernon alone proved magic was an art. He also mused "having beyond the gift of talent, unending love for that activity, as well as selfless devotion in time, thought and energy....then the whole of any such activity, would be art indeed, beyond its intrinsic qualities"

This conversation almost makes me angry; don't worry--I only said "almost". It bothers me that so called "magicians" don't see what they do as art. It can only mean they are not artists. Well, they bloody well should be. If not on the outside then at least on the inside.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 21st, 2017, 7:10 pm

I am persuaded by Performer's defense of magic as an art, and completely agree with his arguments.

If the fact that there are individuals who do a particular endeavor poorly, or even fail to do it skillfully or beautifully, eliminates that endeavor from being considered an art, then nothing is an art. As we speak there are would-be dancers awkwardly tripping over their own feet and people "singing" songs painfully off key. There are some who have done a painting(s) that most people would consider hideous. Does this mean that dance, music and painting are not arts? I think not.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 21st, 2017, 7:21 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:I am persuaded by Performer's defense of magic as an art, and completely agree with his arguments.

If the fact that there are individuals who do a particular endeavor poorly, or even fail to do it skillfully or beautifully, eliminates that endeavor from being considered an art, then nothing is an art. As we speak there are would-be dancers awkwardly tripping over their own feet and people "singing" songs painfully off key. There are some who have done a painting(s) that most people would consider hideous. Does this mean that dance, music and painting are not arts? I think not.


Thank you Alfred.

Now I do agree with Marco's statement thus:

"To have art, you must express your creative imaginative skills"

However, to me that creativity does not have to extend to the trick itself. You have to use your "creative imaginative skills" to create a UNIT OF ENTERTAINMENT. That requires imagination and creativity. But also other things. Misdirective abilities, psychological abilities, technical abilities, presentational and showmanship abiliites. In the name of God how can magic not be an art when you have to do all those things at the same time?

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Tom Moore » December 21st, 2017, 7:29 pm

I'm particularly interested to see not only who ends up in the role but also who their shortlist is - the most respected "scholars" in magic are really not particularly scholarly when compared with professors in other fields and will quickly be found lacking by any educational institution looking to them for traditional research and educational guidance. Will this search be for a novelty holder (someone high profile who will create some good PR but not actually undertake real educational study and advancement) or will it be someone with particular educational experience and only a passing interest in magic who can fulfill the paperwork side of the role without being especially gifted or experienced at the magic elements?
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Bob Farmer » December 21st, 2017, 7:37 pm

These are all questions that will be debated at the university. You need artists to create art and their are magical artists and then there are people who do magic. Deception is the craft required for magic and the tool used by magical artists, as well as others whose purposes are not always artistic.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Jack Shalom » December 21st, 2017, 8:03 pm

Of course, magic is an art.

Two words: sponge ding-dong.

http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S4760

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 21st, 2017, 8:33 pm

Jack Shalom wrote:Of course, magic is an art.

Two words: sponge ding-dong.

http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S4760


Disgusting! That is a prime example of what I mean when I say magic has been dragged into the gutter. I was delighted when Goshman told me that one of his female employees reported him to the authorities for forcing her to manufacture pornographic products against her will. Serves him right!

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Jack Shalom » December 21st, 2017, 8:43 pm

I actually agree with performer: it can be an art, but rarely is. The variety arts serve mainly to entertain, and it's only a few times in a generation when there comes along an artist with the requisite craft and vision to produce superior art.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 21st, 2017, 9:55 pm

My understanding of Performer's point is that magic is always an art, but that it is rarely artfully performed.


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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby lybrary » December 22nd, 2017, 12:13 pm

Anything can be art. Serving tea can be art. A magic performance can certainly be art. It often isn't, but the reason for that lies with the performer not with magic itself.
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 22nd, 2017, 1:23 pm

In North America I have noticed they haven't mastered the art of making tea
. There is nothing like a good British cup of tea and in Canada there is nothing like a good British cup of tea. And in America it is even worse. I blame Donald Trump.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 22nd, 2017, 2:17 pm

This is true for all of the "arts." Most practitioners are not artists--that designation applies only to a select few.

Using the example of Albert Goshman, given above, I can make a good argument that he was an artist (as a magician).

Slydini was an artist.
Rene Lavand was an artist.

Juan Tamariz is an artist.
Mahdi Gilbert is an artist.
David Ben is an artist.

Those are a few of the people who rise to that level, in my opinion.

I am not an artist (as a magician, illustrator, or writer). I am a craftsman.
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 22nd, 2017, 2:36 pm

I believe devotion and dedication to the subject is a large part of being an artist.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 22nd, 2017, 2:43 pm

I would almost have considered Goshman to be an artist despite the Ding Dong atrocity if it weren't for his greed. I remember being in shock when he tried to persuade me to pitch sponge balls to the public which of course he would sell to me. Since it was one of his signature tricks I couldn't believe he would taint his own art by encouraging the sale of the trick to the public. Naturally I refused his offer. I restrict the tricks I sell to the public to traditional pitch items such as the svengali deck, the worm, the wonder mouse and the Dutch Looper but that is about it. I utterly refuse to sell thumb tips or items which give away principles of magic.

Once money enters the picture alas art has a tendency to go out of the window. As the old saying goes, "Art for art's sake, money for Christ's sake!"

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Robert77 » December 22nd, 2017, 2:58 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:This is true for all of the "arts." Most practitioners are not artists--that designation applies only to a select few.

Using the example of Albert Goshman, given above, I can make a good argument that he was an artist (as a magician).

Slydini was an artist.
Rene Lavand was an artist.

Juan Tamariz is an artist.
Mahdi Gilbert is an artist.
David Ben is an artist.

Those are a few of the people who rise to that level, in my opinion.

I am not an artist (as a magician, illustrator, or writer). I am a craftsman.


This month I'm reading and re-reading a variety of books about performance, not technique. Books by Eugene Burger. Shattering Illusions by Jamy Ian Swiss. I'm not looking to engage in the pointless self abuse of arguing art vs. craft. But I'll offer this thought:

Perhaps it's not the thing being done which decides art vs. craft, but how well it is done. Perhaps it's because things like painting, drawing, and sculpting have been out in the open for so many centuries that they are automatically called "art" out of habit, regardless of quality. This does not necessarily mean that magic would also be an art if it had been more generally in the open for the same time frame. Because of magics tie ins with religion, belief, and even medieval politics, it can't ever be quite the same as other 'arts'. But the performance of it can be artistic.

I'm reminded of critiques of James Bama, a reasonably well known illustrator. Nowadays he's doing western/Native American themed paintings, but back in the day he was well known for doing art for book covers and even box art for monster models. My point is, he was determined by his peers to be 'just an illustrator.' But if you look at his body of work it's clear he was an artist. The extreme detail in his paintings. His ability to create photo-lifelike paintings.

Perhaps the art vs. craft debate is arguing apples and oranges, and this is just concealed so well because 'everyone knows' that some things (painting/sculpting) are "art".

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Robert77 » December 22nd, 2017, 3:45 pm

And let's not forget: There are two kinds of people; those who separate people into groups, and those who don't.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 22nd, 2017, 5:08 pm

Bama's definitely artist, as was Basil Gogos.
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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 22nd, 2017, 6:22 pm

Has anyone seen Cellini's Silent Chinese Linking Ring's routine? And what about Mike Close's Frog Prince Card Routine or his Card on Forehead Routine, or Bill Malone's version of Sam the Bellhop? Reasonable minds may differ on the definition of "art," because it is somewhat of a moving target and subjective, but to me, those are all high art by consummate and creative artists.

And like Performer pointed out, there are so many elements that are or can be brought to bear in the performance of magic: psychology, presentation, patter, misdirection, acting, manual skill and dexterity - personally I try to weave in story telling, drama, music and comedy, how can magic not be considered an art? Nice sponge ball routine BTW Performer - very entertaining.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Robert77 » December 22nd, 2017, 8:23 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:, how can magic not be considered an art?



Well for one thing there's not an objective way to rate/grade/understand magic. Unless you're a magician.

I have an inexpensive print of Jerome's hanging on my hallway wall. Image

Now I'm not an art critic. I know very little about Jerome. But when I look at that painting, to me, that is clearly 'art'.

When I see multiple magicians do an effect, say selected card to wallet, using three different methods, odds are good they'll all look like one trick to me. Where's the 'art' in that?

Just something to ponder.

P.S. it occurs to me that while paintings and sculptures can be 'art', they are viewed after the fact of their creation. Magic is a 'performance art'. Sadly when I think of that term I primarily think of Daryl Hannah acting out a piece of abominable performance art in a forgotten movie..

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 22nd, 2017, 9:47 pm

Robert77 Wrote: "Well for one thing there's not an objective way to rate/grade/understand magic. Unless you're a magician."

But could not the same thing be said about music - that there's not an objective way to rate/grade/understand music unless you're a musician? But that fact would not make music any less an art would it?

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby performer » December 22nd, 2017, 9:51 pm

I would consider that painting art if the people in it would at least put some clothes on.

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Robert77 » December 22nd, 2017, 10:49 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Robert77 Wrote: "Well for one thing there's not an objective way to rate/grade/understand magic. Unless you're a magician."

But could not the same thing be said about music - that there's not an objective way to rate/grade/understand music unless you're a musician? But that fact would not make music any less an art would it?


I disagree. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDeU42u2s2Y

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 23rd, 2017, 2:58 am

Robert77 wrote: "When I see multiple magicians do an effect, say selected card to wallet, using three different methods, odds are good they'll all look like one trick to me. Where's the 'art' in that??

As compared to what? The picture of the Jerome print you posted in which it appears the subjects are ready to turn - I mean perform - many different tricks?

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Re: Allan Slaight Chair for the Conjuring Arts

Postby Bob Farmer » January 15th, 2018, 12:16 pm

It's big news:

https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.3756532

Prepare your resumes now.


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