Appearance for a magician

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lord_Magic, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. A few questions:-

    1) Is it true that the lesser hand-wear you have, the cleaner the magic looks, and maybe even less distracting? What if the hand-wear is simple?

    2) I don't usually wear rings at all. But now and then, they seem to compliment the effect I'm performing (say if the effect emphasises on something typically beautiful). But at the same time, I don't want to include it in my basic 'image'. Otherwise one of these days it is going to talk with a hidden coin and there vanishes the magic...

    3) Is the magician not sticking to a character OR preventing from successfully creating a 'brand' for his magic OR preventing his audience from receiving a wholesome magical 'experience' if he changes his appearance from time to time? Not drastic changes (don't think Miley Cyrus)... say if we go back to the ring thingy...what if I wear it sometimes, but not always?

    4) A non-appearance question, but something that's bugging me...Is it true that magic with other objects is greater than magic with cards?
    If you pull out cards, do people naturally assume that you're going to do something 'tricky'?
    With an average skill-set of course, not considering a Shin Lim kind of character.
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  2. 1. It depends on the audience and your performance. Some people may think it's your ring regardless of what you say or show them. If you don't make it seem like your ring has anything to do with it, you should probably be fine.

    2. Also depends who your audience is. If it's strangers, you'll be fine. If it's your friends or family who you perform for often, they'll notice that you're wearing a ring if you don't wear it frequently.

    3. The way I see it, as long as you're consistent for the same audience you should probably be fine.

    4. No magic is inherently better than any other types. It's all opinions.

    If people know that you're a magician and about to perform, they will probably think you're going to do something tricky no matter what you pull out. That doesn't mean they'll immediately think the object itself is tricky as they don't know what to expect.

    However, most card tricks seem to be less memorable to laymen as most card tricks boil down to only a couple basic effects. Sure the method or presentation may be different, but to most audience members it's just another "was this your card?" type trick.
    Joshua Jay performed a survey on this topic and found card tricks, among his sample, to be the least memorable type of magic, with most people just describing them as "a card trick" without much detail beyond that.

    The one exception, however, was when the trick involved some other object such as the ceiling, a lemon, an omni deck. That's not to say card tricks are any less impressive though. People may remember that the trick was amazing, but unless you do something really special or creative with it, most people won't remember the exact details of the card trick.

    I've even found this to be the case with Shin Lim. A lot of laymen I've talked to will say his card tricks were unlike anything they've ever seen, but they rarely describe his effects in detail.
    Lord_Magic likes this.
  3. Depends on your persona / character. The question is whether the ring looks out of place with everything else you are wearing. However, if you look like Liberace or Tom Brady it might be too much.

    Why not? I like to have different watches depending on my mood.

    I think the difference is appearance compared to style. I typically wear a button down dress shirt with black pants and a black blazer. The shirt typically is a regular blue or a French blue. I also could easily wear a tuxedo. My appearance would be different, but my style would be the same. I could probably go the other direction and wear a nice pair of jeans with the button down shirt and still have the same style. However, I couldn't pull off a Grateful Dead T-Shirt and ripped jeans or wear earrings or a skull and crossbones ring.

    Also, based on my observations, most people wear the same jewelry but tend to swap them out. That is they wear a ring and a watch, but not always the same ring and the same watch. Also, jewelry changes with the occasion - a woman would wear a different necklace and a man would wear a different watch going hiking, going to work, or going to a formal event.

    I think that magicians appreciate card tricks more than lay people. As magicians, we have a (various levels of ) knowledge of what can be done with cards. If we see something we don't know the method to, then we think it is magical. Spectators see a typical card trick, they think "card trick." By that, they know they don't know the method, but they know there is a method. Also, most card tricks tend to look the same after a while. I saw lectures by a couple of famous card guys and actually got bored after the 5th or 6th card trick. It stopped being magic and became "look at what I can do with cards." Other objects does initial draw more interest because spectators are pretty much unfamiliar with magic using those objects. With all that, any effect with any object can be made to be interesting and magical -- you just have to put in the work turning it from a trick into a performance piece.
    Antonio Diavolo and Lord_Magic like this.
  4. No. Justin Flom, Criss Angel, Alan Rorrison and others wear more jewelry than most guys. Sometimes their magic is great and sometimes it's not. The jewelry doesn't seem to have much of an effect on the impact of the magic.

    Sometimes I perform ring magic, sometimes I don't. I wear rings sometimes and sometimes I don't. It's that simple.

    READ THIS!!! Juan Tamariz sometimes argues that magicians should not be theater-trained actors. Some of his reasons address your question. In theater when we create a character it is important to remain consistent. The costume is the same, the motivation is the same every performance because the story is the same every night. In magic, the story and characters are different every performance. Don't worry about getting so lost in a magic 'character' that you lose yourself.

    Don't be something that you are not. People can tell when your acting, and outside of a theater it doesn't look genuine.

    Take Criss Angel for instance. He's trying to look and act like some sort of a demonic, rock star. He just comes off as a pretty boy wannabe rock star. Be honest with yourself!

    No. Cards can be just as awesome as anything else. Anyone who says otherwise probably hasn't seen enough magic. It really depends on the performer.
    Lord_Magic likes this.
  5. Wow... thanks! Never thought of it that way...

  6. Doesn't all magic basically "Boil down to only a couple of basic effects."

    And wouldn't the inability of the audience to accurately remember the details of an effect help the magician rather than hinder? As it would prevent the reconstruction and backwards engineering of an effect?

    Do you think we should strive to make an effect memorable, or the feeling that effect gives to an audience memorable?
  7. This is true... while I may not be able to describe a Shin Lim performance, in my case at least its a result of sensory overload and brain-melting. But while this statement is true...

    I think this is a misplaced statement.

    It's not a wrong statement, per se.

    I would want the spectators to forget that they were allowed to choose a card only from the top half of the deck.

    But I wouldn't want them to forget that their card rose to the top.

    If they forget that, there's no point really...

    I think he meant to say that card tricks inherently don't look new or original, since most of them require picking a card and losing it into the deck. So basically, most card tricks ''boil down to only a couple of basic effects" and it's tough to break the mould, effect-wise speaking. But then of course, card effects can still rouse unbelievable amazement, like Josh said.

    I think it's quite safe to say that an average magician doesn't arouse the same amazement with cards, as compared to say, coins or mental magic.
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.
  8. If you are talking appearance, disappearance, transformation.... then yes. But spectators don't see magic like that. They see the plot of an effect. A person disappearing while standing on a chair as a flag is waived in front of them isn't the same as a coin disappearing in a magician's hands. There are many, many different plots.

    Not if all they remember is, "he did something with cards."

    If your spectators want to reverse engineer your effects, you've already failed.

    They are not mutually exclusive. My goal is that a spectator should be able to explain what happened in the effect, what I did for presentation and how they felt in a combined reminiscence.
    Antonio Diavolo likes this.
  9. This is why I said the details of the effect, not the overall plot of the effect.

    I would want the audience to forget the exact manner and order I did things, but retain the overall impression, for example my ACR I'll start with he double as normal, then backslip, and then I'll do a subtle shift so that the audience has seen a card go into the middle, and then a cut, and finally for that phase they see the face of the card get pushed in the middle, what I want them to take away is they've seen the card go into the middle 3 times, and actually seen their card pushed into the middle of the deck before it reappears each time.

    If someone forget that the card rose to the top, there really is no point, but if they forget the steps I took to get from the selection to it rising to the top, that is what I meant in my original post.

  10. 1.) Surely the vanish, transposition, appearance is the plot, what props the effect is done with and the scale of the effect is a matter or staging. Magician makes (coin/card/ beautiful assistant/ Statue of liberty) vanish, is the same plot but on different scales.

    2. ) I didn't say the whole effect would be unmemorable, or the punch line - I tried to make it plain that I meant the technical details, or the moments done in the offbeat, but I don't think I made myself clear.

    3.) There will always be people who look at an effect as a puzzle, or will see it and instantly come up with "how I would've done it", I don't think it's a failure to have people have that attitude. I think it's a failure if you let them backwards engineer the effect, but if they want to honestly try, and then can't- that's where the magic happens for those people. They will only see the beauty in an effect once they try and fail to reconstruct it.

    4.) I would've thought it went without saying the two were not mutually exclusive, but the magic that has really resonated with me and stuck with me has been magic presented in a way that struck an emotional cord.
  11. See Giobbi's distinction between effects and themes:

    That is just card magic. Similar lists can be done for other types of magic.

    But, the study that Antonio did:

    Card tricks were frequently named but almost never described in any detail. This was so alarming to us that we added a ques- tion to the experiment, asking participants to specifically describe a card effect they had seen. Even when prompted, only 27 percent of participants could describe any card trick with specificity. The most common response was to simply list “tricks with cards.”​

    If you audience is trying to figure out how you did it, it is a failure in how your presented the magic. You have shown them a trick rather than magic. Not being able to backwards engineer an effect doesn't make something magic, it just makes it a puzzle you can't solve. When a magician "fools" a spectator, the spectator ends up feeling like a fool.

    "I cried so hard." "Why?" "He did some sort of card trick."

    You cannot remember an emotion without remembering what brought on that emotion. The effect and presentation need to be seamlessly interwoven and similarly powerful so that remembering what happened triggers a memory of the emotion and the memory of the emotion triggers the memory of what happened. You want your spectator to be saying, "he did this, and said this and then I felt that."

  12. I'm sorry but I think you are being far too reductionist. Especially in the second point, where you seem to be making a straw man of my statement, and deliberately using a false dichotomy to further your argument rather than actually replying to what I said.
  13. Ontological reductionism: Some claims about reductionism concern things in the world, such as objects, properties, and events. These claims state that one thing or set of things can be reduced to some other, more basic thing or set of things.

    It isn't a straw man or false dichotomy based on the article that Antonio cited. The article, which I quoted, says that people didn't remember any details other than it was a card trick. Your first post contains a vague modifier in the use of the word "the" before the word "details."

    If your response is based on the article, which it appeared to be, "the" means "any." However, in your later posts, you clarify that "the" by drawing a distinction between "details" and "plot."

    The problem with that is the article doesn't support that dichotomy. In the article, plot is a detail of the effect.

    If that is what happens, then I agree with you. Having the ability to cause the audience to ignore or mis-remember technical aspects of the effect can make the magic stronger (although some magicians go too far with this by saying stupid things like "that was fair, you should have picked any card" which has the opposite effect because people question conclusions handed to them where they accept conclusions the draw themselves). BUT, if the audience doesn't remember the plot, details or anything about the effect other than it was a card trick, which is what the article says happens, then there is a problem.

    Ultimately, we are arguing two different points.

    My point is that card tricks not being memorable (in the context of the article which says people don't remember anything other than it was a card trick) is an inherent disadvantage for a magician using card tricks. There are ways of overcoming this, primarily by doing tricks with cards (think card to impossible location) rather than card tricks (think ace assembly). In the card plots, there are many plots that stand out like Triumph, Invisible Deck, Wildcard, etc. because the effect doesn't have anything to do with the epistemology of playing cards. That said, I do an effect with a large jar of green apples and oranges. The uniqueness of it makes it more memorable.

    Your point is that selective inattention to details regarding methods is a good thing. I agree. But that selective inattention is more a function of design of an effect rather than the medium used for the effect. That is, selective inattention is not greater with card trick compared to any other type of effect. I would argue (without any empirical support) that audiences tend to pay closer attention to card tricks because of the expectation that "he is going to do something tricky with the deck" based on the general understanding of prestidigitation with cards. Finally, it is more the performance than the method that often influences what audiences remember (see above note about subtlety leading the audience to draw their own conclusions).

    I think the ultimate answer is what Eugene Burger calls "texture." If all you do is card tricks, then you are limiting your texture because many of them begin to feel like the same thing - a card trick. If you perform using a variety of props, you have more texture because each routine seems different. Now, that always presents the challenge of how to make those effects flow together coherently -- and the answer to that is to select effects and presentations that express a consistent character or persona.
    Antonio Diavolo and MohanaMisra like this.
  14. WRT 4)
    The problem here is that cards are used for games and tricks. They can be exciting and everything, but it's obvious something is coming. If you can do a trick with something else, it's less obvious what is about to happen, so the reveal of the trick can often involve the reveal that a trick was even taking place. I think that's what you're seeing/feeling when you talk about this, and it's very real. Doing magic with things people use every day will always have a better effect than the same trick with something they don't. There was a Penn and Teller where somebody (I forget who) did rope ticks but with a charge cable. That's a game changer, because phone chargers are everywhere, and people use them all the time. Not everybody uses rope. Relating the props in the trick to the person can have a huge effect.

    That said; it just means you might have to work a little harder to get your card tricks to have as good a reaction, but time and again magicians prove they're up to the task, and spectators prove they still love a good card trick.
    MohanaMisra likes this.

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