performer wrote:An old pro magician told me recently, "In twenty years time magic will be very different. It won't necessarily die but it will be different. And not in a good way"
I still remember what John Scarne wrote in a book years ago. He said words to the effect, "A good trick is like a precious diamond.It should be guarded carefully"
Alas many of the diamonds have been stolen.
That is a great quote. I agree with your old pro magician friend. There is something about that quote that has wormed its way into my head. I will be mulling it over for the next 20 years.
Nobody is easier to fool than magicians. They practice in their mirrors and then blink when they carry out their secret moves. And now they are burying their heads in the sand with the advent of smartphones. Technology can utterly change everything. Sometimes genuine game changers do come along. Just look at the nature of war after the invention of nuclear weapons.
The first major impact smartphones will have, in a funny sort of way, will be beneficial to magic.
These days a lot of walkaround magic consists of an ambitious card before you dump a block of plastic in the spectator's hands. This is a running joke on the (excellent) Magician's Podcast whenever they discuss the state of the British (mainly London) magic scene.
Walkaround magicians have always been drawn to the same 20 or so tricks. Since through a Darwinian struggle for survival these are the ones that tend to pack the most impact, with the best angles, whilst not been too difficult to do and that are easy to reset... and so on.
As a result - most professional magic these days is a form of prositution where magicians turn the same tricks for a set fee. Since it is easier to make a living performing 6-8 hours a week during the same old tricks than it is working a regular job for 40 hours a week.
That repertoire is about to go extinct. There is a giant asteroid about to impact the world of magic and it will wipe it out.
That asteroid is the smartphone.
Even seeing that a trick you have been fooled with is available for sale online for 20 bucks will be pretty disorientating for a lot of spectators. And many will buy tricks as an impulse buy just to learn the secret. Why tip the magician 20 bucks when you can spend 20 bucks to learn and perform the same trick?
At the same time as all this the "rules" of TV magic been thrown out the window. So the magic on TV gets more and more impossible. Such that nobody really trusts it anymore. Whilst the magic in real life becomes less and less impossible as the secrets are easily found, either for free or for sale, online.
There is a real chance that just as cinema killed off the era of the touring stage show, the internet will kill off the era of close up magic. Ultimately more good than bad may come from it. Magic will return to its roots. It used to be hard to be a magician because you had to prove yourself a worthy student to learn the secrets from a mentor.
Now you will have to prove yourself by figuring out a clever way to use audiences expectations and knowledge against them. Maybe this will be a good thing? Maybe it is about time magic kicked out the 99% of casual magicians who just want to cheapen and use this artform.
My sense though is we are heading into a twilight era where everyone will be a magician. It will just be one of those things that everyone does. A bit like how every group of friends will have somebody who always has a couple of new jokes he wants to share. And how everyone has one or two jokes they can tell.
Fifty years ago - more laypeople knew tricks than do today since the world back then was based around card games. That era will return but this time it will involve people performing material that 99% of walkaround magicians currently use as the basis of their repertoires.
It is like a country when inflation starts to run out of control. It is hard to believe that soon everyone will be a billionaire and that it won't mean anything. The same is about to happen in magic. Everyone will soon be a magician and nobody will care.