Artists VS Viewers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MohanaMisra, Mar 25, 2020.


Are you a:-

  1. Move-Monkey

  2. Sucker-for-Visuals

  3. Emotion-Exploiter (basically somebody who favours the emotions roused due to an effect the most.)

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  1. Yes, magic is not all about the sleights. It's much, much more.

    However, it's my opinion that the actual Art of magic and the magic that is performed, are two different things.

    Imagine I were to see the Monalisa, or the Last Supper. When I see these paintings, as somebody who doesn't really understand the Art of painting on deeper levels, I'd think of (in order):-

    1) The controversies related to those paintings.
    2) Admire the artist for being brave enough to make such bold paintings and statements.
    3) Maybe admire the composition of the paintings, the colours used and mixed.
    4) Start thinking about how brilliant even things made by mere humans can be if enough thought is put into it.

    That's about it. I wouldn't be able to admire the brush strokes, or be struck in wonder about how much effort was put into actually taking the colours and using them the way they have been used.

    If we put this in the perspective of magic, I can like a well-scripted ACR, or an impossible-looking Cups and Balls routine. But this admiration exists only on the surface, and if at all the magician is proficient enough, it sparks thoughts and emotions within the viewer. All of this is beautiful. BUT...

    On an artistic level, I will still love a very difficult colour change or concealment, which might achieve something that CAN be done with a much simpler sleight too, but I'll love the technique used, I repeat, on an artistic level. There's something to be said for executing sleights beautifully.

    I repeat, magic is not about that and I understand. A lot of performers today deliberately do sleights in a way that glorifies the beauty of the sleight itself, not so much the final effect (just look through Instagram), and they are low-key shunned for that.

    My point is that they shouldn't be. If that's the magic they think is the magic to be PERFORMED however, they can be criticised for missing the entire point of 'Magic' happening, but if they just share it for the love of the art, for the love of sleight-of-hand, I don't think they should be reprimanded.

    There's a place for an effect where the card changes when it looks as if nothing happened except the wave of a hand, and an effect where it's clear that the hand did something which made the card change, yet it's possible to appreciate the work put behind in achieving the sleight. Mind that these two realms are different, that showing off your move-monkey-self isn't really what would create a 'real and magic' environment for the audience but well, it depends on what my definition of magic is, right?

    As an artist, a difficult sleight satisfies me so much more when executed well. However (as frustrating as it is), since often the simplest tricks get the best reactions, I PERFORM them more often, for the pleasure of the viewers.

    Whose perspective of magic is correct? The sleight-of-hand lover artist's or the magic-lover viewer's? I don't think there's a correct answer.

    I just wanted to put these thoughts out there. That there is a balance we need to figure out between performing impossible-looking magic and impossible-looking sleights, and I think both are beautiful in their respective ways.

    What do you think? Artists vs Viewers, is there really a winner, somebody who's more 'correct'?
  2. My opinion -

    If someone is doing a difficult sleight in such a way that you can detect it enough to appreciate it, they are failing to do the sleight correctly. Doing a sleight correctly means it's undetectable and even unsuspected. Therefore, if you detect it or even suspect it, they have failed.

    Sleight of Hand is not magic. Sleight of Hand is a tool that can be used to create magic. Sleight of Hand itself, is just object manipulation - Juggling. All our fancy moves, gizmos, and psychology are all just tools used to create magical moments for the audience (hopefully).

    Another point - magic is doing the seemingly impossible. If someone can detect how it's done, it's not magic, because it's clearly possible.
  3. Magic/Mentalism etc is one of the only performances where the apparent "techniques" shouldn't be celebrated unless you are going for a "technician" approach, Gambling demonstrations, Hustler, or "psychologist mentalists" etc

    let's take something like dance or singing, people can watch dance and may not be able to dance like them, or recreate the moves, or even feel the experience but can appreciate the long hours practicing, the techniques and the approach

    have you ever talked to someone who said I don't like that kind of music/dance etc but can appreciate the talent

    Magic is not like that. if people knew you spent 'x' amount of hours practicing a routine so it always happens the same way at a pre-destined result the magic is lost, it doesn't become Magic, there is nothing "magical" about it, you performed a routine you knew would work

    I have always taken a minimalist approach to performing. inspired by the Paul Harris moment of astonishment, the only important thing is the moment of astonishment, that is what they remember

    that doesn't mean I am not doing "hard" or "advanced" techniques, it is about taking out unnecessary moves, movements, "patter" and condensing it into an impactful moment/moments
    RealityOne likes this.
  4. Are you steerpike?
    RealityOne likes this.
  5. That. Is. It.

    At a certain point, we've all become Steerpike.

    I'd say the only important thing is what they felt. People remember things that happen when it is associated with a feeling. True Astonishment (pun intended) is something very different than what most magicians shoot for which is making the audience feel fooled. The problem is that the pursuit of pure astonishment (despite being difficult to achieve) provides no variety or, in the words of Eugene Burger, "texture."

    Paintings that evoke an appreciation of the skill required, fall short. It is only when a painting conveys an emotion that they become art. The same is true with magic.
    Luis Vega likes this.
  6. yes, 100% and something I should have clarified in my reply

    love him, hate him, critiques or not, David Blaine is a prime example of a minimalist approach to magic, where people can still "feel something" condensed down into the "moment of astonishment" without endless amounts of unnecessary "patter"
  7. Thinking about this more, "astonishment" or the feeling of "astonishment" can be enough of a "feeling"

    this is times when over-scripting, or this long drawn out presentation trying to convey a certain emotion and the audience doesn't get that emotion and the effect just ends flat since each audience is different, each person is different and will experience things differently, trying to "force" (pun) a feeling doesn't always work and will even backfire
  8. I get what all of you said but even if, say, I never performed the more complicated moves, I get a personal high when I nail them. Is the artist-satisfaction not a requirement at all? [insert thinking emoji]
  9. What if I confined my paintings which evoke an appreciation of e skill required, to my own room or before people close to me who have, over the years they've spent with me, understood the art more and more and now can appreciate the skill behind it?
  10. What if achieving ('real') magic isn't my goal right then, but it's just to capture the raw beauty of sleight of hand, where it's obvious (say) that I've done a Retention vanish, but it's so impeccable that I just feel the beauty in it (as an artist, as somebody who appreciates sleight of hand)?

    Unless you mean that sleight of hand's entire beauty is in it not being detected. But what if the detection is on a psychological level (ONLY by somebody well-versed in sleight of hand and not a 'layman') and not on a visual level? And then I understand it, hence I appreciate it more?

    Richard Turner for example, makes his second deal look more magical than half of Dynamo's works in my opinion, and I'm a huge fan of the latter.
  11. Agreed, most attempts at emotion do fall flat - "I want you to think of this card as someone you love..." My test for a good presentation is whether the presentation could keep the audience's attention / interest without the magic trick. Often, many magic tricks do not have sufficient substance to support a meaningful presentation and putting a presentation on them just weight them down.

    @Liderc - I know we have different views of how to perform and that is fine. I'm the impressionist and you're the cubist.;) Everyone has to find the way to perform that works for them. One is not better than the other - just different approaches toward the same goal of entertaining our audience. There are many paths to get there.
  12. Sleights without context are not magical, in my opinion. Appreciating skill is not the same as having an emotional reaction to something - at least, I've never experienced a significant emotional reaction to a display of skill.

    Scripting is something a lot of magicians get wrong. Particularly when they think scripting only pertains to the words. That's where you get long over written scripts that go off on tangents and fail to evoke emotion. A proper script may be wordy or may be laconic. Though I do think it's generally better to trim as much as possible. Like Burger said regarding the Gypsy Thread routine, "Brahma and Shiva in as few words as possible" (paraphrased)

    So taking the Blaine example - everyone locks down on him not saying much. What they are missing is the greater context of his performance. For one, we're only seeing the really good reactions. They might film a dozen people seeing him do a trick and take the reaction of one of them for the TV show. They also don't show the 20 minutes leading up to that incredible reaction where Blaine has established himself as his "Mysterious Stranger" persona - the archetype of the wandering mystic capable of doing impossible things.

    If Richard didn't point out that he was doing second deals, would you still be able to appreciate it?

    Richard is very skilled but even he says, more or less, he's not trying to create magical moments. He is specifically a card cheat displaying hidden skills. Even when he was on Fool Us, he basically said, "See if you can figure out the dozen controls and false shuffles I used to do that". It's a challenge, a puzzle.
  13. We as magicians often forget that others have actual, real people they can love. ( :D )

    Shin Lim's work too, makes it obvious that he's using heavy sleight-of-hand and the natural view-blocking nature of his table, for the most part. But then again, it's me as a magician who is sure of that. Which is my idea... that isn't there place for this sort of magic too? The sort where I just perform sleight-of-hand for the sake of it? Again, I'm separating that kind of magic from the kind of magic which deals with performing for 'laymen'.

    Not all magicians love performing, do they? Those who delve only in the technical field, aren't they allowed to be labelled as magicians?

    I wouldn't.
  14. I personally don't think magic exists outside of performance, so if one is not performing they're not doing magic, and therefore I would hesitate to call them a magician. Doesn't mean they can't be a valuable part of the magic community, though.

    You're referring to object manipulation, not magic. There's no mystery in just doing sleights. It's a display of skill akin to juggling.
    Liderc and MohanaMisra like this.
  15. Thanks! This discussion clarified this entire 'debate' for me :)
  16. yes, personal satisfaction should be a goal, or why do it? but, doing a bunch of Juggling, or stiff obvious, unnatural unnecessary movements where an audience can say "they did something, we don't know how it works, but we can see what they are doing" is not "magic" it is "talent" there is a difference
  17. most attempts at emotion are completely unauthentic

    I look at it like this, are we storytellers that use magic to embellish our stories, or are we magicians/mentalists, etc that use words to embellish our "performance"

    I, as a performer, do not want to be a storyteller, I want magic and astonishment,

    can you(not *you* specifically* just in general) perform a routine and create the same "moment" "emotion/feeling" etc doing the same routine silent, with no patter.

    of course, and that is what makes us all unique and not "robots" or clones of each other, which is why I always say "magic has no rules"
  18. I had to look up what "cubist" was, I'm just a Rez kid(not Kid as in Age), I don't know what these words mean ;)
    RealityOne likes this.
  19. So let me get something out there that we might both agree on -- telling a story with a deck of cards ruins the story and the card trick. Honestly, I don't care about the building being on fire and having to save one of the cards. To quote Game of Thrones, "Burn them All."

    More seriously, the performance has to be magic and the presentation has to enhance the performance of magic by providing meaning. Some great examples are the routines in Walt Anthony's Tales of Enchantment There also is a lot of great stuff by Robert Neale, Larry Haas, Eugene Burger and others that combine magic and meaning.

    Let me give an example. I'm working on a needle swallowing routine where the needles are put in a wine glass, the glass is filled with wine and I drink the wine with the needles. The presentation is me talking about coming home from a tough day at work and having a glass of wine. The monologue is filled with bad puns (people needling you, dealing with pricks, etc.) as I drop the needles in the glass. There is a juxtaposition of the serious of my tone, the really bad puns and the disbelief at the fact that I'm going to drink the glass of wine with the needles. The effect is stronger with the presentation because it evokes several (contrary) feelings and the presentation wouldn't make sense without the effect.

    Yes. My linking rings and billiard balls are done to music and the script is all expressions and body language. A good example of this is Jeff McBride's Misers Dream Routine. The key is that the presentation (even though it is nonverbal) conveys emotions (humor, playfulness, amusement, confusion, etc.).

    I've found that through the course of my life, I've become a repository for some typically useless knowledge. At least some use came of the trivia I learned when I was dating someone who was taking an art history class in college.
  20. Yes, we agree on some things. I have always thought of Burger of a storyteller that uses Magic to embellish his stories, not everyone can tell stories, he can, that is not to take away his magical talents, just an observation

    I am not going to have some inauthentic story about metal bending being a metaphor for "x" and trying to draw out some forced emotional "hook"

    just like I would never be "these jacks are robbers, and they are going to steal your card" "these Razor Blades represent all your worries and troubles, as I swallow them away and string them together to discard them"

    to me, it is just patronizing, and for a majority of people they just want to see Magic, and how they describe it after will normally be (to borrow a phrase) the moment of astonishment, not the story that went with it, as Daniel Garcia once said "every magician should have multiple tricks that are no longer than 30 seconds"

    now, that is not to say there aren't times for the "light and shade" the tension and release, the dramatics etc, I think it can also depend on the situation you are performing, if you are working walk-around at an event long presentation don't always work, and a more intimate show, even a parlor situation you have the space to expand the presentation at times, I don't think every routine needs it because it becomes just a one-note performance, and I also don't think every presentation needs a specific "emotion" you are trying to convey, a generalized one even personal to you that the audience can interpret their own way also works well
    MohanaMisra likes this.

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