Signing Objects

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Postby Guest » 03/31/02 12:22 AM

As previously posted, many mentalists frown on the idea on having objects signed for later varification. An example would be bending a coin. One argument is that signing implies the "world of switching", (something popularly attributed to magicians), that because this is "magician thinking", has no place in serious mentalism, arguing that if your switch is clean, and your presentation strong, your audience will never be suspicious, even with something as impossible as bending metal.

Personally, having an object signed can only enhance the effect, particularly down the road where theories may become more evident.

But is this merely the magician in me?
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Postby Adam Brooks » 03/31/02 10:33 AM

I recall a story which Ryan Pilling of Half-Baked fame tells.

Pilling wanted to do a "Card to CD-ROM" effect. He ended up using a rather elaborate setup that allowed him to have the card signed. When he showed the trick to David Acer, Acer said:

"Use a friggin' dupe!"

And he was right. Using a signature on the card, in this particular instance, only enhances the effect negligibly. One could load a duplicate into the drive, then force the mate, and ditch it before revealing the climax, and the trick would be more or less just as powerful as if the card were signed.

I don't remember where I read it, but I recall someone saying that, if someone signs a card, and the card is then "lost" in the deck, it is implicitly saying "you're going to see something similar to this in the future under impossible circumstances, so I hope you can recognize your signature".

Anyway, getting back on topic. If you're going to have anything signed for a mentalism effect, I would do so:

1.)so that the participant will have a personalized souvenir of the event

2.)to make the participant feel like she is a bigger part of the effect

3.)If the signature plays a discrete role in the plot.

In short, I think there are tricks where signing is definitely appropriate, and ones where it can safely be left out without detracting from the overall impact.

My two pesos,

Adam
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Postby Bill Duncan » 03/31/02 12:40 PM

I agree with Adam's point #3 very strongly. I try provide a thematic reason for it when having a card signed. In my torn and restored card script, for example, the spectator writes someone else's name (a literary figure) on the card. It has the same effect as a signature when it comes to canceling suspicions but doesn't seem[/I} like it's purpose is to prove anything. Proving seems to me to a very un-magical action. If you really had magical powers what would you care that someone didn't believe in them?

That being said, any thinking audience will evaluate what they have seen, so any proofs you can routine into the effect will help. Having an audience member mark an item with a Kabalistic sign rather than their initials would have the same effect as the [I] location
of the mark would be of their determination...

Likewise having an item personalized with the name of a loved one, favorite pet, etc. can lead to interesting themes with emotional content so there may be added benefits to "thinking like a magician".

It would seem that in mentalism anytime you overtly attempt to prove something you're reminding the audience that trickery might be involved. So such proofs must, in the context of mentalism, be very much more subtitle than they need to be in general magic.

Now you have four cents... :D
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Postby Ruben Padilla » 04/01/02 05:08 PM

Let's make it six cents...
Bill writes, "If you really had magical powers what would you care that someone didn't believe in them?"
Unfortunately, I feel that in today's modern world, people don't honestly believe that we have magical powers. They're sophisticated (enough) to understand that we, be it mentalists or magicians, are doing something tricky. We're providing an illusion by omitting a portion of the "complete picture". They know this, they understand this, they silently agree to this when they willingly watch our (often tedious) presentations, and I feel they appreciate the careful "proving" of innocent and open activity, however secretive it may be. I, for one, have a performing style that attempts to preclude any suspicious activity by gently cancellng out ways that the spectators might imagine I'm accomplishing the tricks. It's my way of respecting the intelligence of my spectators (without being condescending - a fine balance), and allowing them to fully enjoy the illusion by witnessing it with as much of an informed perspective as I can give them. It's intellectually involving and, I hope, entertaining even long after I've gone home and they are left to reconstruct the tricks in their minds. Often, my presentations insure that the effect grows with time (I'm sure we've all experienced this to some degree). So what's my point? Simply that we'd probably do better to realize that most audiences don't really believe we have magical powers, and to keep this in mind when constructing presentations, both magical and mental.
By the way, great addition to the forum! (the section, not necessarily my reply ;) )
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Postby Brian Marks » 04/01/02 08:00 PM

I think mentalism has an advantage over magic that eliminates the need to "prove" everything. Its mostly preconceptions people have.

People want to believe you can read minds, move objects with your mind, predict the future and talk with the dead. This all has deep meaning to people, a pseudo religious experience, sort of. This why John Edward moved from Sci Fi to CBS. When you read someone's mind, people want to beleive its true and forget the trick part. Whether they actually do may be different but when you baffle someone in this manner, they will question their own beliefs. I have run into people who say Mark Salem is "gifted" despite the warning at the beginning of the show.
With a magician, people in Western society are conditioned to believe we are doing tricks. Common methods are well known such as "up his sleeve", palming, stacked decks or the vague smoke and mirrors. This becomes an anwser for tricks where these explainations aren't even close.
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Postby Andy Hurst » 04/08/02 11:22 AM

I think like so many issues in magic and mentalism, there are times where doing something one way is right.

In the case of signing things for mentalists. Having someone sign a seal on an envelope adds to the authenticity of your claim that you could not have tampered with it.

In the instance of borrowed objects, coins, bills, etc... with coin bending for example, the question is 'if its not signed will the audience suspect a switch even if I do keep the handling very clear?'

I have a serial number reading trick in which the borrowed bill is folded up by a spectator and then across the two visible sides he signs or makes a mark. The only time I take hold of the bill is at fingertips when I place it against my forehead and call out the numbers. The bill is handed back folded in eighths, the signature confirmed, and then unfolded, etc...

I tried that effect without the signature, despite the fingertip holding of the bill, everyone swore 'he switched it'. So in that instance, even with an object that never leaves their sight, it has to be signed.

That serial number trick for those interested (at the risk of this looking like one big cheap plug) is called \'The Dead Zone\' and appears in issue 2 of The Foo Can .

The best spirit slate routines have the slates signed in advance of the writing appearing. But if two slates were clearly laid on the table having been shown cleanly on both sides and the magician never touched them - surely the signing in that case is redundant.

So my guess is that it depends on the effect as to whether the item has to be signed. Going back to that original coin bending example - Derren Brown does a coin bending but does not have the coin signed or marked. But thanks to his verbal control, and the effect he does first, and the way it appears to all happen in someone elses hand, means signing or marking would do nothing to enhance it.

OK, now I am rambling! I'll stop.

Regards,

Andy Hurst.
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Postby Guest » 04/09/02 10:26 PM


Unfortunately, I feel that in today's modern world, people don't honestly believe that we have magical powers. They're sophisticated (enough) to understand that we, be it mentalists or magicians, are doing something tricky. We're providing an illusion by omitting a portion of the "complete picture".
A good magician should be able to make people believe in magic EMOTIONALLY despite the fact they don't believe in magic INTELLECTUALLY.

A modern magician should be TELL people he is magic, he should SHOW them that he is.

Also, a signed card doesn't only make the card unique, it makes it personal. If the spectator has their name on it, it becomes an extension of them and thus the trick is unique for them.

However, sometimes a duplicate is just easier.

;)
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Postby Guest » 04/09/02 10:28 PM


Unfortunately, I feel that in today's modern world, people don't honestly believe that we have magical powers. They're sophisticated (enough) to understand that we, be it mentalists or magicians, are doing something tricky. We're providing an illusion by omitting a portion of the "complete picture".
A good magician should be able to make people believe in magic EMOTIONALLY despite the fact they don't believe in magic INTELLECTUALLY.

A modern magician should be TELL people he is magic, he should SHOW them that he is.

Also, a signed card doesn't only make the card unique, it makes it personal. If the spectator has their name on it, it becomes an extension of them and thus the trick is unique for them.

However, sometimes a duplicate is just easier.

;)
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