How is magic an art and how can you convey that to your audience?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Cold Agent, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. I know magic is an art form but what really makes it an art and how can you pass that message on to your audience through your performance? :confused:

    If anyone responds to this then thanks for the help!
  2. We need to start looking at magic as an art form instead of an ego trip. The only way magic will advance in the peoples eye, is if we tell them that what we do is an art. Then all of a sudden you aren't being heckled and people enjoy it more. For example, when you are going to perform tell them what we do is an art. People sit around and invent the things you see Angel or Blaine do on T.V. . Give this as an example. When a Pacaso exhibit is coming to your museum, your museum didn't create the artwork, they are just merely presenting it for you so you can enjoy it and have fun! Magic is the exact same thing. Don't keep the people in the dark, just like any creator in art there is one in magic. Give credit where it's due... it's a very hard pill to swallow, but once you tell them that people sit around and create these things you show them, suddenly the pressure is off of you and you're not being heckled because they know you didn't create it and they enjoy it so much more now that you level with them. I know no one is going to say " Daniel Garcia and Dan White invented this effect where I blow up a balloon and put your phone in it." Because it just doesn't feel right to you. That is because you have been selfish with magic for the longest time and don't want to give credit where it's due because you want to be in the spotlight. But if you explain it like I did and tell them that it truly is an art form, and you give that example of the museum.... you will be the better for it. You aren't paying attention to the fact that to better the art of magic you can't be secretive to the public, and after all, they are the ones who watch us perform. Stop focusing on the trick, your presentation even to a degree isn't as important as what I told you. If you don't change your attitude, the public will have a snow balls chance in hell of changing theirs.

    - Zac

    P.S. :: I am reiterating a lot of this from Paul Harris.

    That was a post I made a while back, hope it helps...
  3. #3 ZacEckstein, Aug 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2009
    When I wrote that, I wrote it very vaguely. You SHOULD NOT do that for every effect. It's just food for thought.
  4. alright, thank you
  5. No problem brotha! :D
  6. Does it really matter? I dont think Lay people walks around and thinks about whats art and whats not, all they want is a great show.
  7. Well I feel before we can answer the question of Magic Art, we have to first find out what is Art in general? Now what do artists do, they paint pictures you might say. This is true but not all artists’ paint some sculpt. Now that we have this established here is a better definition,

    Art is the imitation of what exists or what might exist in circumstances of imagined by artists.

    This goes for any true art out there whether musician, painter, sculpture, actor, etc.

    Now a great piece of art conveys some sort of interpretation of what the artists was looking at or visualized. If we apply this in the context of magic, our job as Magicians (not card cheats, cons, gamblers etc) is to convey to your audience that you have superhuman abilities and can produce a piece of art that projects to our audience that there is such a thing as supernormal.
  8. The simiplest way I think of Magic being an art is that it's a form of performance. Some play music, some act, some are professional wrestlers... we're magicians and it's what we do.

    With that said, I personally feel that the idea of us telling people that magic is an art might, depending on your style, hinder your performance. I think the difference between magic and other art forms is the fact that the audience reaction / perception is where the art really lies.

    As performers and magicians, we apreciate magic as an art form. For example, when I first saw Kostya Kimlat perform a double lift, I was in awe of how smooth and flawless it was. But to the spectator who is unaware of technique and the artform, they would veiw it simply as this magician guy turning over a card.

    It's really important to read your audience. Some like to just say flat out that we do are tricks and slight of hand, but some spectators don't want it to be. Some want to believe what we do is real... are they kidding themselves? Maybe, but, I think as performers, we shouldn't take that away from them.
  9. I have discussed with Laymen, non magicians, that in the magic community that magic is referred to as an art.

    The truth is they don't really care, at least the laymen I have talked to and asked. So I ask them, "What do you view magic as?" To the vast majority of laymen, magic is entertainment an not an art. This is unfortunate but laymen don't care, and we shouldn't be trying to force this idea on them.

    As long as the audience enjoy what they see, that's all that really matters at the end of the day, not whether they think it's an art.

    Also, what us art? There's not a really definite answer (although there should be really). First and formost I think- art is something that the viewer must think positively about in some way. As I said, there isn't really a definite answer.

  10. what is art? whatever you want it to be. Art is indivually based, what you think is art, i may not think is art. Understand? i could think the Mona lisa is the most beautiful piece of artwork in the entire world, but you could think its just a painting.

    Same goes for magic. Some people think magic a beautiful piece of art constructed to amuse the eyes and taunt the brain. Some think its just another hobby or a way to make money.

    There is not as much art in magic as we think. Sure there are a few beautiful bits, but in the end, what is it really? A way for "creators" to make money, not to advance the artform of magic, but to make money to feed their families. Which is not entirely a bad thing, but if we have soo many people trying to make money, then how can we advance the actual artform?

    What may be magic to you, may just be cards or coins or trick boxes to other people. How do you advance magic, if magic cannot be clearly defined in a spectators eyes? simple, you advance it in your eyes, and let the people who DO see it as art, experience it as art.
  11. #11 Mat La Vore, Aug 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2009
    Telling your spectators it's art doesn't make it so.

    If you want people to see your magic as art, perform it like it's art. That's it.

    Darwin Ortiz probably has the best take on this subject I've ever read in his book, Designing Miracles. Basically, his philosophy is magicians waste way too much time trying to justify magic as an artform. Instead, one would do better to study magic like a craft and let it develop and be perceived at the level of an artform on its own by your spectators. Let them decide whether it's art or not based on how you present it.

    Not everyone is always going to think there's something artistic to what you're doing. Sometimes what you're doing is just going to be perceived as a craft. And that's ok. So just treat your magic like an art and hope that it shines through when you perform. That's really all you can do to really help the cause because, aside from magicians, nobody really cares if magic is seen as an artform or a collection of gags, cons, jokes, and tricks.

    Also, be more selective with what you choose to perform. You may love an effect, but does it actually play as a real mystery? There are loads of effects I absolutely adore but I refuse to perform them because, in the end, they don't play like real magic. Eugene Burger has said his repertoire right now consists of 29 effects, and that if he could get it down to 20 he thinks he would really be a star. Think about what he's saying with that. And be conscious of how you're presenting your effects. Is the comedy overshadowing the magic? Is the magic more about getting a laugh or a scream or are you really doing your absolute best to affect someone on a deeper emotional level with your magic? Is there an emotional hook to your effect? Because, if not, forget about it being seen as art.

    Robert Houdin said it best: "The magician should be an actor playing the role of a magician." Does everything you do--your dress, patter, presentation, effect selection, invisibility of sleights, etc.--further the belief in your role as a magician? If not, what might be getting in your way of achieving belief in your role with your audience? Are you really striving to make your acting role artful in the same sense that a great silver screen, Oscar winning performance is, or (to extend the metaphor) are you just making a flashy entertainment flick?

    There are quite a few good examples of magic effects that plays like art pieces: Copperfield's Snowstorm, Teller's Shadow Rose, etc.. But, of course, they're debatable, so I'm going to go with this one because, whether you like the effect or not, the way it affects the one person it was performed for is transparent. So forget whether you like this effect or not. Think about how Blaine presents this and how the magic emotionally impacts his spectator. What this guy saw wasn't flashy eyecandy, it was art. Listen to what he says afterwards. Check it out: The Tattoo.
  12. I feel this quote is over used and needs to be at least given an adrenalin shot from time to time. A more modern way that we all should say this quote is

    "Modern magicians are actors, playing the part of a legendary Magician." its the same idea but just a bit more accurate rather then precise. I am not attacking anyone just respectfuly pushing my opinion.
  13. The thing about that robert houdin quote is used alot by people who dont even know what it means,or dont actually practice what it preaches.
    Still,that quote,i dont think, doesnt have much relevance to this dicussion.
  14. I disagree. Magicians don't need to come across as "legendary." Legendary to me draws up images of an old wizard in a cloak with a white beard.

    Copperfield, David Blaine, Criss Angel, Doug Hennig--nothing about their characters came/comes across as someone who is a legendary magician. If anything they've been more progressive.

    Agree or disagree--that's fine, but to say it doesn't have any relevance, to me, means you aren't reading close enough.

    If you want to convey that what you're doing is an art form, you need to take the role you're taking on seriously in the sense that you need to be more cognizant of how everything you say and do affects the illusion you're trying to create (that you're a real magician). If you want what you're doing to be seen as art, you need to take on your role like any other actor would that wants what he does to be taken as an art form and not just "playing pretend."

    In short, the title of the thread (paraphrased) was "How can you convey that magic is an art to your audience?" Answer: approach your role as a magician as any other actor that sees his craft as art would.
  15. I think the best thing that you can do,is to stop thinking your acting.
    Fully commit yourself to the character and see yourself as your actually doing it.
    All the great actors of our times speak of this. Like you say"dont pretend to be a magician.Be one"
  16. #16 KeoSilver, Aug 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2009
    See now this is why I love magic and community, there are so many different ways to interpret magic. Unlike math or physics there is no set formula to magic there may be just a few general rules but ultimately everyone has to make there own magic formula.

    I state again from my original post, this is in context of a painter:magician analogy.

    Artists must visualize their art or physically imitate something they see. Magicians do something similar; we must visualize full effects ex. Teller’s Shadow illusion, or look at common tasks or movements and create a different outcome. Examples the double lift, table pickups vanish or any other lapping technique, an object being tossed from hand to hand.

    Next the artists paint their picture in the comfort of privacy. Magicians do this as well, not letting public eyes to wander over the unfinished artwork. While in this stage artists often times start from scratch, just as magicians scrap and rework methods. Many pieces of art stop and stay in this stage of development not being anything but an unfinished product.

    Continuing once the piece of artwork is finished we reveal it to the public this could be any method you like live, mass media, and yes even the Internet (youtube, vimeo, video sharing sites, etc.) It goes to magicians as well when you actually spent the time to create and perfect your art you want others to see it.

    This is kind of an aside but I see a lot of people saying that youtube should not be for performing magic on, now I have some questions to throw out there they are rhetoric so you do not need to answer them.

    Why do music artists have music videos, shouldn’t it only be performed live; I mean it sounds better live right?

    Artists post youtube tutorials that are incredibly insightful on how to draw, paint, sculpt, etc. giving basic tips on each subject that are commonly accepted. Magicians are artists why don’t we put tutorials of magic technique and other basic tips of a great quality?

    Do we really hate seeing magic performed in front of a webcam, or are we just tired of not seeing original material?

    I hope my above post helped to show why magic is an art form to me.
  17. I honestly don't think audiences care if it's an art or not. They want to be entertained, not educated. Perhaps a few spectators can appreciate it on a different level, but most don't. There's really very little we can do about this and honestly I don't think we need to. Why do you really care if your audience think your an artist? You probably just like the term and the idea of being an artist and get an ego boost from it.

    If a magician was performing to me and trying to tell me the history of the effects, the creators and why it's more than entertainment and I should appreciate it as an artform I wouldn't be happy, i'd be irritated, bored and would just want to see a trick. I'd think he needs to get over himself as do most people writing these ridiculous, pretentious essays which have no practical applications.

    I'd bet that most people who write these really long posts on magic as an artform apply almost none of it to their performances, they just want to look clever on the forums. When you're out doing an ACR and do a double lift are you really thinking about the illusion you're creating and how it's perceived in the minds of the audience? Probably not... There's certainly a few magicians around who will take all this into account, but most of the people on T11 don't.

    You should work on practicing your routines until their perfect then go out and entertain people with them and give them a unique experience that they'll hopefully remember for a long time. Work out what your audiences like and what they don't and refine your act based on it. Do what they like not what gives you an ego trip and I think you'll be a great magician. If you're so good at what you do and they see it as an art, that's great. If not, you can still give them a great experience.
  18. I have not thought about it that exact way before. I'm Learning alot from these responses though!
  19. I am so tired of that "they just want to be entertained" mindset. I have seen magicians perform solely with that mindset and later I ask audience members what they thought and In the mix I get " was cool" "It was ok"..and then one day,holy cow,I get a guy that tells me "It gave me very little to nothing.A minor spectacle but nothings different about my day".
    Now what the hell do the people that say they just want to be entertained have to say now?
    Not every single person has the same mindset that they want pure entertainment. and its not a majority idea either.

    Give the spectators what they need,not what they THINK they want.
    Think about that people.
  20. When you say that, do you mean presenting the magic so it's not just a trick but something more?

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