The principles of true magic* are not to portray, but to evoke. Jerzy Kosinski Lately I’ve been thinking how inexhaustible, rich and evoking the old Plots in magic are. Like “The general card (Metamorphosis)”, “Everywhere and Nowhere”, “Remember and Forget”, “The Miser’s Dream”, “The Sympathetic Cards”… these titles are in their own truly evoking and stimulating, imagination flies just by…
This will be nothing new to many but it has taken me a while to realize this, I believe the next revolution in card magic technique will come (or is already coming) from cardistry. Just as it happened before with the techniques from the card table. Those damn kids push everyday a little further the border of what it is possible to do with a deck of cards, looking for impossible combinations of movements without the constraint of looking for a practical use for them. Eventually we magicians will fully take advantage of that work, not to replace the old techniques, which are as great today as they were decades ago, but to incorporate them to our toolbox.
I am a layman in cardistry but I find there an enormous source of new ideas for card magic techniques, and new possibilities are created every day. I am not talking about that now we have to display dexterity and juggle with cards, not at all. Just as we didn’t have to pretend to be clumsy as gamblers do, we don’t have to do fancy cuts or sculptures with cards. It is not a matter of discovering a new way to do magic, but of enriching our technical capabilities. Sure most of cardistry work is not suitable for magic purposes, but still the source of new ideas is great. The exploration of those new digital mechanics, possibilities of the cards, improvements in coordination and “fingerbuilding” will inspire new sleights conceived specifically to resolve magic problems that are unthinkable now (see Tony Chang’s amazing work). Not necessary only for close-up, but for parlor or stage magic as well.
Now it makes little sense to me that rivalry between magic and cardistry. There are plenty of magicians who are not interested in magic, we don’t need more of those. If a boy is not interested in magic, but he is passionate about cards the best thing for him to do is focusing in cardistry, the best for ALL. Even if cardartists have no interest in magic we should have some interest in their work, if only in our own benefit. It is like having an enthusiastic army of young researchers exploring new possibilities with cards 24/7, and they do it for free (some of them may look arrogant and haughty, it is still a cheap price to pay).
I am not a big fan of juggling aimed to overcome extreme difficulty, but juggling aimed to express beauty is something else. That’s why I enjoy much more three balls juggling acts that other proposals more complicated from the technical point of view. Lately I’ve seen cardistry pieces that express beauty effortlessness and I am attracted to that, at least as a spectator.
My good friend Mario Lopez discovered to me Noel Heath, a Martian disguised as a human teenager, and I think he is absolutely insane.
Thanks for reading!
Today I found out that the legendary magician Francis Carlyle, the creator among other things of “The Homing card”, one of the most performed routines ever either by amateurs and professionals, ended his days living in the streets of LA and died of alcoholism in 1975. Another legendary magician, Ricky Jay, found him living in the streets, took care of…
On the magic experience: Magic enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. ― Thomas Merton The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true magic and true science. ― Albert Einstein – On the positive effects of fine magic: Magic washes away from the…
Nowdays we interchange information with many people all the time, more than ever in history; but I think we seldom communicate with other people. I mean expressing ourselves sincerely, sharing significant information for us, listening and caring about what the other people is saying… There are great techniques to improve communication; I think sometimes we interpret those techniques like its…
ASKED SOMETHING TO A SPECTATOR AND HIS/HER ANSWER ACTUALLY MEANT SOMETHING TO YOU? Like he/she could actually change the magician’s plans at all, like he/she could actually affect the outcome of what was about to happen. Like he/she could actually add something to the experience which was taking place…
What is your name?… What was out name again please?… and your name was?.. Could you say stop at any point?… Please select any member of the audience… Should we use the red or the blue back deck? … Do you prefer the red ones or the black ones?… Could you name any card of the deck?… Name any number between 1 and 52, yes yes! any number! Really I couldn’t care less the number you name!…
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot on how many things we (I) ask to spectators and how meaningless are their responses for us (me), how we (I) don’t care at all. It seems that the most solid reason we have to ask something to the spectators is to give them the illusion that they are actually affecting something when we know they don’t, not because we really want to know what they have to say (poor isn’t it?). For most of the magic that I know it is essentially the same if the spectator in front is a cultivated person, or the most interesting human being or a stupid guy… some spectators may react better that others but the expected outcome is always the same. I think in general that we take nothing from our spectators back home, among other reasons because we leave no room for them to put it. I think we are missing a lot there.
There are some exceptions, for instance if you see a good magic show for kids you will realize the kids make the show, the kids are the actual show. Good kids’ magicians let the kids play an active role, take part, and they truly affect the outcome and everyone’s experience… A particular kid’s participation on a show may last decades in the memory of the audience (and the magician’s).
I remember very well a show from David Williamson that I witnessed in Uppsala one or two years ago (David is one of the more entertaining performers, one the finest technicians, one the more knowledged magicians, nicest guys, humblest wises… funnier comedians … … best bests … … Goddest Gods … …). He performed this mentalism routine where five spectators each draw something in five slates and the magician have to guess who drew what. It was very very entertaining, he took a lot of out of every spectator (he is one of the best kids’ magicians I know too…). But I won’t forget in my whole life when we all realized that one of the spectators, a cute Swedish girl (the only girl) was the one who drew a hairy cook in the slate to try to mislead the magician. It was soooooooo funny! She was pretending all along!! when she was discovered she smiled with the evilest smile. That girl changed the outcome of the routine, she changed our experience. (The routine had room and David put things easy on her to do that)
(As a matter of fact I remember perfectly the four shows and the lecture David performed at Uppsala festival…)
So that’s what I am trying to do now, asking things to spectators that I actually care of. How can they care about what I ask them if I don’t even care about what they answer?
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NEVER EVER EVER SIT ON THE FRONT ROW IN A MAGIC SHOW. You alredy chose the red pill and there is no turning back, you are now part of the magic society, a great big family where we help each other, you belong to an exclusive elite which aims protecting the secrets, you know way too much, you carry a tremendous responsibility……
Hi there! I’ve been missing for a while. I know you all were very worried about me right? (wink wink)
The thing it is I don’t have much to tell you just now, I have a few articles but they are not finished yet. I‘ve been very busy recording a DVD with some routines and ideas of mine. “MAGIC FOR THE SHORTSIGHTED” is the name of the project. I think it will look very good, the guys at the studio and the art direction did an amazing job. I am very excited about it! I tell you this because when we finished the recording sessions I thought of you, I thought it would be good to take advantage of the set design and record a little video for the blog. Si we did it! Here you are a 2-cup version of the Cups & Balls (excuse the patter I was tired and not 100% awake)
I think the routine it is interesting and very connected with a previous article in which we discussed about clarity and confusion and I shared with you Joaquin Matas’s wonderful version of this classic. I started playing around with a routine with two cups precisely because of Joaquin Matas (you’ll see the influence).
A good thing about 2-cups routines is that is less likely to create confusion because there are less elements (but not impossible). I am in love of Tommy Wonder and David Williamson versions that also uses two cups.
I think this routine is very streamlined (maybe a little bit too much). Two things I would like to outline that I think are interesting:
- One related to the External Life. All effects involved the two balls so all the elements are always at play. I think that is good from the point of view of the clarity because there is very little information the spectator needs to remember.
- The other one related to the Internal Life (I won’t reveal anything here). Not a single sleight or ruse are repeated throughout the routine. That’s on purpose of course, I think that as we repeat sleights in a routine they become weaker and less deceptive for the spectator (we damm humans always looking for patters and learning stuff even unconsciously…). So it is a good thing to have in mind when working on our routines.
But we’ll find a better place to discuss about methods, construction and other nasty stuff (normal people is reading here)
Thanks for reading!
PS: I clearly remember our agreement, you were supposed to have a 10 minutes performable new act by June 11th.
Magic means different things for different people. My understanding about what it is magic, as a performing activity, has changed throughout the years and it is still changing. I have the feeling that there is something more in there and I have to dig deeper. Not that I pretend to change no one’s life, but I would like the things…
When talking about Magic or Illusionism the first name that comes to mind to lay people is this guy… Yeah, posterity is not fair, but maybe we should not pass up the chance to comment a few things about the guy like, although he was a great escapist and the best showman, he was actually a very mediocre illusionist.…