An Essay on the Modern Magic Community.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bd, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. #1 bd, Mar 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2009
    AN ESSAY ON THE MORALITY AND HABITS OF THE MODERN MAGIC COMMUNITY
    (at least, as it pertains to the online community on Theory11)

    Hello, my fellow Theory11 member. Before we get started, I would like to make a rather simple request- one that some of you may ignore. I simply request that you read all of my post, every word, before replying. If you don't want to spend time reading it, then I must ask you not to leave a reply, as it will most likely be an ignorant one. That being said, thank you for taking time to read it thus far, and I hope you continue to read ahead.

    ===

    There are many different problems pertaining to today's magic community. A few of the more discussed ones would be exposure and performance styles (this covers patter, audience and audience participation, etc). Now, I am not going to tell you what to do and what not to do; I am simply going to discuss these and other problems and let the individual reading this decide how to react, if a reaction is deemed necessary

    I'm going to begin with the topic of maturity. I remember when I first joined Theory11 - I was welcomed by a group of friendly, helpful people. When I wanted to talk with other magicians on as real of a level as you can get via the internet, I would simply open my browser and go to the forums. It saddens, and on some level angers, me that the forums are now flooded with a bunch of repeated nonsense and/or argument-inducing posts, along with the multiple posts on the same subject, the retarded replies left by Theory11's members, and the overall lack of intelligence and respect shown in the posts. I think that each member, old or new, needs to take a good look at themselves and re-evaluate their decisions and attitude. I would love to see, instead of the normal bashing and utter incompetence shown on these boards, positive replies and constructive criticism - along with answers to questions that you can answer, and not replying to posts that you have nothing constructive or helpful to say.

    Exposure - revealing the secrets/method to a trick.
    Alright, people. This topic is talked about too much, but nothing is ever resolved. We, personally, cannot control what the kiddies on YouTube decide to post. We can, however, report the video, and control the exposure in our own community/environment. If you want to know the method to a sleight/trick/etc, then purchase it and support the creator. Don’t ask for someone to reveal it to you, don’t ask to “trade tricks”, don’t post methods to things that you did not originally create.

    “Let’s film our magic!” Alright, I am wholeheartedly in love with filming performances. But recently (and personally, I believe this came about because of the uprise in flourishing), there are mostly only videos of performances to the camera, not to an audience. I ask myself - what are these kids doing? What is the point in wasting hours and hours, days, months, years in the art of magic if you aren’t going to go out in the real world and perform? No one is impressed by a webcam.

    The right way to perform - engage your audience, have an intriguing patter, don’t be a boring person, don’t be fake with your audience. I could write ten books on how to perform, and there would still be plenty of areas of performing left untouched. So, in place of ten books, I’m just going to give a couple tips for successful magic:

    - Be interactive with your audience. You want to engage the spectators as much as possible, while still retaining control of the trick.
    Don’t stare at your hands. You can’t watch the magic happen if you’re looking at your hands - try to perform without staring at your own hands! You’ll find that your spectators will also lessen their visual vice on the deck; this could greatly benefit your ability to perform some sleights that you thought you’d never personally use in a performance.

    -Use patter. Patter can make or break a trick - talk to the spectators! Your patter, tone, and body language ‘sets the stage’ for the spectator. You can create magical moments out of the simplest effects - just by the way you present it.

    - Keep it simple. Yes, complex flourishes are cool and a great way to “show off” to your fellow magicians/cardists, but it can often lessen the magical effect (because of the constant, untraceable movement of cards). Keep the “visual noise” and flourishy knacks out of your card magic performances, or at least try to keep it to a very minimum and only when it makes sense to flourish (e.g. I’ll just mix up these cards, now go ahead and pick one; something along those lines).

    Please, if you feel the need to respond, leave a reply or send me a PM - even if it’s a contesting one - I’m always happy to have intelligent discussions with anyone! Hopefully, some of you gained something from this post; that was indeed my goal - not to insult you, but to help you. As for now, I bid you adieu.


    Ben


    =====

    ex post facto:
    If this were the case for the majority of camera-only performances of tricks, I would have no spark with which to light a flame of contest with the massive about of videos submitted to T11/YouTube. I see exactly where you're coming from, and I do this myself as well - though for a very select audience (private videos). Brainstorming via videos on the internet is a great way to grow in magic, and I support that side of the camera-only performances.

    The reason I have a problem with most of the camera performances is because they are NOT posted for critique on an idea, nor for feedback on the mechanics of sleights, nor to show an overall performance of the trick so as to obtain the opinion of people before performing it in the real world. Most of the videos that are uploaded are patter-less, filled with music, unoriginal ideas, boring performances of "the newest cool trick", etc.

    I agree with you. People need to stop being so focused on "their way", and see that magic effects can be achieved in an infinite amount of methods. I feel like the whole "creativity" side of magic has been lost - too often, you see an "original effect", which usually consists of poorly-planned sleights, poor handling, flourishing, and a variation of <insert daniel madison or dan and dave bucks' trick name here>.
     
  2. straight up.
     
  3. I have to agree with you about some of the T11 members nowadays. If you enter a topic, you just feel like some people are just on this forum for an argument and nothing more.
     
  4. Hey Ben, :)

    First off, let me just address my personal feelings on what you said about filming magic. I think, that a lot of the time people don't have the facility to go out and actually film their magic, whether that be due to camera limitations or permissions. Not only this but sometimes people want feedback on an effect they're working on before they hit the stage if you will. Would you deny these people their chance to show what they've been working on and get some feedback due to their lack of facilities? I know I certainly fall under this category, I have videos on youtube of me just performing to a camera... I do perform for people, I just don't have the facility to actually go out and film any of it.

    Other than that, I can unfortunately say I almost wholeheartedly agree, and don't have much more to add onto your post (I'm not all too great with expressing my ideas into words, so it's probably best I stay quiet, lest I make more of a blundering idiot of myself :p).

    I must admit though... One problem I have with a lot of the advice that's given to the magic community these days is this dogmatic approach to giving it. Y'know when people say "You should do this", "You should've done this, why did you do that?", "This is a better way". I could go on, and in all honesty have been guilty of it myself sometimes. My problem with this approach is that it can sometimes feel like you're being reprimanded, rather than being helped... if that makes sense? Of course the problem with this is you then get frustrated that you're "Doing it wrong" and end up even worse off than before because you're trying to work to someone elses standards.

    I will say and agree that there are certain principles which are for the most part unanimously agreed on when it comes to performing magic and the practice of it. However, I'm of the firm belief that magic is one of those things that you can be creative with if you want to do so; if you can find something that works for you, and works well, then why should you do it any other way other than "Because so and so told me so, and that it's been done this way forever and this is the proper way to do it".

    That's... all that's coming to mind right now, hopefully some of it made sense. :)

    - Sean
     
  5. #5 bd, Mar 18, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2009
    If this were the case for the majority of camera-only performances of tricks, I would have no spark with which to light a flame of contest with the massive about of videos submitted to T11/YouTube. I see exactly where you're coming from, and I do this myself as well - though for a very select audience (private videos). Brainstorming via videos on the internet is a great way to grow in magic, and I support that side of the camera-only performances.

    The reason I have a problem with most of the camera performances is because they are NOT posted for critique on an idea, nor for feedback on the mechanics of sleights, nor to show an overall performance of the trick so as to obtain the opinion of people before performing it in the real world. Most of the videos that are uploaded are patter-less, filled with music, unoriginal ideas, boring performances of "the newest cool trick", etc.

    I agree with you. People need to stop being so focused on "their way", and see that magic effects can be achieved in an infinite amount of methods. I feel like the whole "creativity" side of magic has been lost - too often, you see an "original effect", which usually consists of poorly-planned sleights, poor handling, flourishing, and a variation of <insert daniel madison or dan and dave bucks' trick name here>.
     
  6. In which case it is again that I unfortunately have to agree with you. :(

    Though, there are some cases where I think effects actually work with no patter. This does not go for many tricks, but I think some pieces can actually be quite beautiful when performed properly to the right piece of music.

    Regardless, I do know where you're coming from and I do agree; sadly again... It shouldn't have to be like this.

    - Sean
     
  7. Agreed. the vast majority of videos are made to gain rep, and we shouldn't be aimed for that. We need to learn to be creative and innovative, good performers. Making a look-what-I-can-do video isn't helping anyone and isn't advancing our art. especially when people are mostly just copying dan and dave cuts. Posting video's of different handlings of tricks is fine by me but I think we should focus a little more on the performance aspect of our art instead of the quick hands part. The magic is in our audiences minds- not in our hands.

    kevin

    EDIT: haha I guess I type too slow :b
     
  8. Some effects, if performed properly (and again, read my post about patter - body language is included in this!) and with the right body language/gestures/facial expressions to communicate, or connect, with the audience, can be done with absolutely no patter whatsoever, and even set to music. Personally, the only two that I would ever consider doing this to are my version of Tamed Spades (which goes nicely for a large crowd via a TV/projector screen, etc) or my own TNR.
     
  9. Agreed. Patter has always been a *****.
    It makes my ears cringe when I can tell when watching a magician perform that he has said the same lines a thousand times and the "story" that supposedly happened to someone he knew, isn't even interesting anyway. I hate it. The stereotypical patter that comes with triumph, ACR, 2 card monte, etc. Really annoying, and the audience can tell. It doesn't make the trick unique AT ALL to use someone else's patter. I hate patter! It will be the end of me!

    I challenge people to never use patter that comes with the trick, or someone told you it, or whatever. Use your own. And try to avoid story teller narrator. If you want to tell stories, become an author. If you want to be a magician, be a performer.
     
  10. I told you we see eye-to-eye - I tell every new magician I meat that performance is the key to every effect, and to come up with their own patter; don't use someone elses' (especially if you're copying the patter used by a widely-known artist - chances are, hundreds of other little "performers" are using it as well)!

    If you ever want help coming up with a general patter for a trick (for I never script my tricks, I just have general comments that pertain to the effect, and wing the rest), I'd be more than happy. Just shoot me a PM, private video via youtube, or if you have a Mac, iChat me (using aim).
     
  11. d00d, you suck.


    Jesting, of course

    All of the issues in the above post are things Ben and I have discussed many, many times privately, so I don't feel the need to address him here but I will share a few thoughts.

    The biggest problem I see with this particular magic community (which is not THE magic community) is maturity. A brotherhood of artists has been reduced to a community of damn kids. I don't say that to pertain to age, some people I know are 50 years old and I consider them a kid because of their maturity. But people no longer man up, take their licks and move on. If someone disagrees with them, they scream and yell like a little baby who got its bottle taken away... its absolutely absurd.

    I can sum up the maturity level of a good %80 of this forum with one word, signature. So many of you have "SNC Contest Winner" in your signature. Who gives a damn? Honestly, what does that have to do with magic or your practice and advancement of the art? It is immature one-up-man-ship.

    One of the other issues on this board, people running before they walk, can also be linked to maturity. I am so tired of these threads that say "What trick should I close my show with? I am booked for 200 next week". If you do not know what effect to perform and how to structure your show you have no business booking it, bottom line.

    Its all maturity and the lack thereof. The gross loss of originality, the disrespect for the art and its practitioners, everything goes back to people not growing up.


    Just one guys opinion.

    C
     
  12. hey man, you essay, totally respectable, except for the filming part. I think filming is good, as long as your filming something to benefit the eyes of the viewers, whether it be to help the filmer, or to show off a move. Filming for audiences is great and all, but face it, they are amazed by a double lift and a shapeshifter. But we get bored of that as magicians. A good ARM is not near as impressive to a layman's aduience as a snap change, thats just how they roll. But magicians would rather see the ARM. IF you preform for lay people, you should tell the community about the patter, not nessacariliy the trick. i dont know man, jus a few thoughts.

    peace.
     
  13. double true
     
  14. I have very little to add to this conversation than what has already been said, but I just wanted to give you a huge thanks for writing that up. The online magic community has changed over the years, and I thank you greatly for realizing that and trying to get us all back on track.
     
  15. Thank you for the responses; in turn, I would like to ask but one favor of all of you who read (and are still reading) this thread:

    PLEASE act on what you drew from this conversation. Don't just think about it and not change. As I see it, the true "magic" is crumbling (at least in the online community - which is a huge tragedy) - WE need to do something if we are going to change the way our generation of magicians are.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to read through my writing.
     
  16. One thing though, bro. T11 is not exclusively representative of the entire online magic community. I think thats one mistake or perhaps unfair thought they have when they refer to T11 as "THE Online Magic Community".

    C
     
  17. I disagree. Patter is fun. I try to what I'm saying seem like I'm just making it up as I'm going along whenever I perform cuz it goes with my character. But I always say more or less the same thing.

    A counter example of someone that uses someone else's scripted patter is Ricky Jay's performance of 4 Queens 3 Ways. Taken straight out of Erdnase.

    But I completely agree on the second paragraph. We're not all Ricky Jay. So stop using the patter that comes with the trick or stock lines!!
     
  18. to benjamind-
    I still catch myself using the same lines for my tricks that I perform a lot, and I hate it haha I, just the other day did a card trick that I have used the same lines over and over for. I guess it's a comfort but it makes it boring for ME. I perform because I love it. And when I find myself bored from a trick that should tell me something. And it does. So I might be a hypocrite, but at least I'm working on it.

    To aznofspades- I just find it hard to create magic with a spectator doing a story-scripted trick. I guess it's cards in themselves. As the other thread said- It is difficult to convince people that fairies and goblins perch on your shoulder when doing card tricks-or something of that sort.

    I love card tricks- because of the technical skill needed and the practice that makes them perfect, and because they are just plain fun, but there are limitations. One of the reasons Derren Brown went from card magician to hypnotist to whatever-the-heck-he-is now is because he found it impossible to make cards tricks magical. Now, there are various psychological tricks to make card effects more powerful, but even though reactions can be incredible, the audience knows, at the end of the day, that it is trickery- not magic.

    kevin
     
  19. #19 bd, Mar 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2009
    Oh, me too, Kevin - sometimes there are certain phases in a trick where some phrase, word, action, etc. just fits better than anything else - nothing wrong with using the best! You, I, and a few other people I know of just don't like that because it can sometimes cause a self-contained reaction of "Uggghhhhhhh, seriously? Can I say something else? I feel corny!"; which sometimes makes us perform less than superb strictly due to pure boredom of our own performances. That's why I wing most of my "patter". ;)

    Cliffordton, Cliffordton, Cliffordton:

    AN ESSAY ON THE MORALITY AND HABITS OF THE MODERN MAGIC COMMUNITY
    (at least, as it pertains to the online community on Theory11)

    :) Someone's been lazy, haha. Or probably just tired, since you're sleeping now. Text you tomorrow, have something fantabulous to show you on iChat.
     
  20. Now how can we bring this message to those newcomers or the ones that are clouded into thinking a 'perfect pass' or doing Tivo 2.42434 is important?
    Because im pretty darn sure they arent reading this thread.
     

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