Strong as an oak

Dec 18, 2007
1,610
13
61
Northampton, MA - USA
When I was in my teens and twenties a "Cardist" or "Cardician" was in fact, a formally trained manipulator of the pasteboards who rarely used legit playing cards but rather, special types of palming & fanning decks. . . I've seen very few people incorporate the old fanning deck idea into all the card juggling antics of current trend, it would be so nice to see such choreography restored to said "art"... but I use that term cautiously in that the purpose behind all the fans, fancy cuts and one-hand shuffles was to establish the confidence and credibility of the showman -- "yes, I am a master of prestidigitation" so to speak, which is something one gets judged on when it comes to technical competitions in the parlor/cabaret niche.

The thing is, the masturbative antics we see executed by today's so-called "Cardists" reveals more about one's lack of discipline than what you would think, simply because it becomes a blur -- TOO MUCH! It's pretty and amazing for 40 to maybe 90 seconds but then you MUST change gears; you start small and simple and let the work build and you do so WITH the music. My old manipulation routines were always created based on the music being used, not a series of robotic actions. I deliberately exploited the soft, barely discernible notes in the background of the music as ways to enhance my audience's experience -- they saw something deliberate that held to a proven formula.

I really think this is one reason why Sidewalk Busking is so popular now days -- far fewer rules than you have within actual theater.

I don't say that as an insult towards the good buskers in that they are artists of their own right. I do say it because of the myriad of others that lie to themselves, thinking they are buskers because they do six different tricks randomly on the streets so as to show off. . . and god knows, there's hundreds of you.

My point is, Magic demands discipline as does Juggling. In either element you are both, artist and performer. If you can not enchant your audience and the only person in the room that's getting off on your demonstration is you. . . YOU SUCK! You simply don't get it.

I can't do any of that fancy crap I see you guys do. . . in 40 some years around magic I've not seen any reason to learn it in that it doesn't bring in a pay-day 90+% of the time... so why waste my time with it if it's not practical? I don't do magic to amuse me, that's not where I find my joy. I find my joy in watching the faces of my audience and hearing their kudos THAT'S THE ONLY TIME any one of us should feel genuine pride and accomplishment -- that should be your only goal no matter what you do.

I have a major loathing of most everything involving playing cards & magic because it's an addiction -- magic enthusiasts are co-dependent on the things to an extreme. If you don't believe me take a look at how many books cover Card Magic vs. any other niche within the craft. . . look at how many card effects show up in nearly every book on magic as well as magazines let alone the plethora that are marketed. Proof that most of us don't have a life and can't see the greater picture when it comes to the magical arts. But my loathing of the things and my attitude became fixed about 15 or so years ago when I heard a bunch of S.A.M. members complaining over a lecture done by Eugen Burger in which he paid tribute to the creative mind of a recently fallen genius of magic named Barclay Shaw and as such, he didn't teach a single card effect but challenged people to learn how to create their own magic and adapt the commercial into being something special to them. . . these "magicians" didn't hear the words of wisdom being shared by the Master who (unwittingly it would seem) caste his perils before swine.

Their loudly expressed bias and bitterness towards Eugene turned my stomach, yet it is how most magicians see things.

What's this got to do with the topic?

A lot more than many of you will ever recognize.
 
Oct 15, 2011
76
0
Oh this should be good.



Or maybe it's C) the videos just aren't very good objectively speaking.



A slightly dodgy premise, but I understand the argument at least.



We already have that where I come from. It's called masturbating.



You're talking to a guy who works in mass media. Comparing you dicking around with cards in your bedroom to what I do is not a can of worms you want to open.



Which is a bad argument because you don't even know what the rules are, but you're using this excuse as a pretext to break all of them anyway.



You're writing this rant, which tells me no, you don't think it's fine.



At what point did I or anyone else say we don't like manipulation acts? Maybe we just don't like bad videos or lackluster performances.



If they don't do the same boring crap, then obviously the statements do not apply to them.



Yes I have.



Who said that?



A restated premise, but no effort has been made to qualify it. The complaints are about bad presentation. Like it or not, manipulation artistry is still subject to basic rules of art, entertainment and theatricality. You don't get to blow those rules off by pretending that what you do is somehow so different that we have yet to invent a language for the hypothetical medium.

Here's the fact of the matter as simply as I can put it. Any time someone is watching you do something, the two questions they are asking themselves are, "What am I looking at?" and, "Why am I looking at it?" The same applies to spinning playing cards.


Amazingly I have completely lost interest in this discussion. Good day
 
Feb 7, 2011
362
1
As I've pointed out in another thread, Cardistry doesn't do anything for me because it's like watching a Ben Stiller movie marathon. Once you've seen one video, you pretty much know exactly what to expect in every other one in the line up.

Cardists rely on the same thing video after video. Horribly out of place techno- dubstep music followed by either a crotch shot or a tight in shot of their hands and busts that cuts off at the neck. Never is there any build up, any drama, or any reason for me to invest myself emotionally in X kid's for lack of a more tactful way of wording this: "showing off". It's magical masturbation. Done because it makes the performer feel good and no one else.

As an audience member magic appeals to them because there is story, there is characterization, there is build up, climax, suspense, and wonder. You have a frame to hang your emotional attachments on, and if you can't get your audience to emotionally commit themselves to your work then you're not doing it right. But with cardists there's nothing. I'm sorry but "look what I can do" stopped being endearing at five years of age.

I'm sorry but the only real solid connection a cardist shares with a magician is that we both use a deck of cards in our act. A cardist isn't a magician. A magician may be a cardist, but it doesn't work the other way around. A cardist is a form of juggler. A variety performer who specializes in a very specific medium. I realize that I'm probably in the minority with this opinion, but it's one I feel strongly about. I'd LOVE to see someone actually make a cardist video, and make it interesting for once. I really would.


After reading this thread, I don't have anything much to chime in. But I think a cardistry video meeting your criteria does exist, or at least one that strives to meet it. It is by Micheal James, made on his last day in Texas before moving to Las Vegas. I don't know if he got the job with theory11 before or after the move.

"This was filmed during my last day in Texas. It represents my accomplishments and my failures - I learned a lot over the years.

In terms of style, I wanted this video to be different than anything else I've put out."


I think it's one of the best I've seen, you may see it as more of the same.


[video=youtube;3jXyJD-zO8c]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jXyJD-zO8c&list=PLJf6qqwxu8[/video]
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
Amazingly I have completely lost interest in this discussion. Good day

Why am I not surprised?

Let me add that as another problem with manipulation artistry and card fetishists in particular: as soon as the discussion starts getting complex and talking about performance theory, they bail.
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
Let me add that as another problem with manipulation artistry and card fetishists in particular: as soon as the discussion starts getting complex and talking about performance theory, they bail.

I'm still here, mate. :) Again, please don't generalize - a lot of the things you guys have been saying may apply to some or most, but certainly not all.

Best,
Vinnie
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
I'm still here, mate. :) Again, please don't generalize - a lot of the things you guys have been saying may apply to some or most, but certainly not all.

Congratulations on being the exception, but there's no getting around the fact that there is pattern here.

You know what? I'm going to say exactly what I'm thinking. Cardists are like magicians in one way: most of them will never perform for a live audience in their lives, much less to a paying audience because they just aren't interesting enough to hold anyone's interest.

I'm not going to go all libertarian pseudo-intellectual on you guys, because I've been there. There was a time in my life where I was a miserable, spoiled, egomaniacal brat who thought only his feelings mattered. Okay, so I'm still an egotist, but that's beside the point. I got nowhere because I believed I was owed everything. I was owed people's attention. I was owed their money. I was owed a hot girlfriend, prestige, fortune and the ability to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted because society should have valued me more than I valued it. Some of you who have been here since the beginning may remember than when I first signed up here, I was still a recovering cynic.

And unfortunately, a lot of magicians/cardists have the same attitude, if not to the same extent that I took it. I keep saying that every audience is asking, "What am I looking at and why am I looking at it?" Do you know how many people have actually said to me, "You're right, I should have thought of that?" About a half-dozen. That's it. They think that because this stuff interests us, it should interest everybody else. It doesn't. Audiences want to know what you are offering them. It might have been easier to get away with answering, "Entertainment," a hundred years ago, but compare modes of entertainment in 1913 to today and think about how much more convenient, immediate and visceral our ability to engage and distract ourselves has become. Hell, this week alone, when I wasn't busting my balls prospecting new clients and writing marketing materials, I was blowing off steam in Skyrim, taking out my frustrations by punching dragons to death. Why should I watch a generic card tricks video with a song by a dubstep band I don't care about?

This is the problem I see with flourish communities in general. They turn into echo chambers. People never bother to ask, "What do I have to offer?"
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
Congratulations on being the exception, but there's no getting around the fact that there is pattern here.

You know what? I'm going to say exactly what I'm thinking. Cardists are like magicians in one way: most of them will never perform for a live audience in their lives, much less to a paying audience because they just aren't interesting enough to hold anyone's interest.

[...]

This is the problem I see with flourish communities in general. They turn into echo chambers. People never bother to ask, "What do I have to offer?"

Of course it's prevalent - the same goes for literally any field. The vast majority (measurably 80%-95% in many fields) of individuals will never take the interest to a professional level or stand out as exceptional in it. It is what it is. That said, like all fields, there are those who do make something of it, and plenty of manipulators who perform live, who do commercials (which is a hot industry for professional manipulators), appear on national news programs, talk shows and newspapers or on national talent competitions, etc.

These are the exceptional people - they exist in every field. The "typical pattern" often does not apply to them, and they don't fall into the rank-and-file. Whether or not we like what they do or how they do it becomes irrelevant, because the public likes it and they are succeeding - which is the goal for many.

This is why I stress the points that I stress and try to lead people toward focusing on the value they offer as a performer. The people who stand out, as mentioned above, learned those lessons.

Best,
Vince
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
I'm not talking about the exceptional people. Anyone with enough desire to succeed and the resourcefulness to go after what they want will make their way in the world in some form or another. I'm talking about the rank and file who keep posting their generic videos and wondering why no one is paying them to spin cards in front of a camera. It's a problem I see here a lot. There's a constant call for card work to be taken seriously, and yet when people who can actually tell them what needs to be done show up, suddenly they're not interested in having the stupid, smelly public take them seriously. Fast forward a week, and they're back to wondering why Will Draven is booking shows while they're still sitting at home in their boxers combing through the latest issue of Pitchfork to find a song for their next video.

I don't think they're going to listen to me. I'm not one of them. As far as they're concerned, my inability to do about 16 variations on the Sybil cut means that nothing I tell them can possibly have any value because, as has been said in this thread, they believe that magic and flourishing are so separate from one another that the rules magicians and mentalists use to achieve success do not apply to them. So the solution is either for someone they will listen to to get these messages out there, or tell them to quit complaining because it's wasting everybody's time.
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
I get what you're saying, but I think there are many manipulators out there perfectly willing to take advice from anyone with the experience to give it, regardless of their specific field. A minority, maybe, but many nonetheless.

There's a constant call for card work to be taken seriously, and yet when people who can actually tell them what needs to be done show up, suddenly they're not interested in having the stupid, smelly public take them seriously.

The two don't cleanly overlap, though. Many manipulators are perfectly content to just make their videos and have it be a fun personal hobby, and they don't really care about perfecting their showmanship. A lot of the ones who really want it to be taken seriously, however, are open to the idea of growing and refining their presentation.

As far as they're concerned, my inability to do about 16 variations on the Sybil cut means that nothing I tell them can possibly have any value

While that certainly exists, I'll be the first to say that is not what manipulation is about. Unfortunately that mindset - of the focus on two-handed cuts - has been (unintentionally) cultivated by some big-name manipulators. Many manipulators value variety. I know that wasn't your point, but I just wanted to say it for the record.

So the solution is either for someone they will listen to to get these messages out there[...]

That's the idea! This field has a lot of room to improve, and is at a pretty clean slate right now.

Ultimately, you and I are not in real disagreement. I recognize the issues in this field, and am working to help correct them.

Best,
Vince
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
Ultimately, you and I are not in real disagreement. I recognize the issues in this field, and am working to help correct them.

You're just more optimistic than I am. Like I said, I'm a recovering cynic. It's difficult to unlearn 20 years of destructive thinking in a short period of time.

It strikes a sour chord in me to see guys who in one breath say they're hobbyists, then in the next demand everyone to take them seriously as artists even though they've never actually done anything to express themselves through their chosen medium. Worse yet when they talk like they're owed the audience's attention. There's a voice in my head that starts screaming, "No! Do not live like a did, for the love of Christ! Do not be that guy!"
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
It strikes a sour chord in me to see guys who in one breath say they're hobbyists, then in the next demand everyone to take them seriously as artists even though they've never actually done anything to express themselves through their chosen medium. Worse yet when they talk like they're owed the audience's attention. There's a voice in my head that starts screaming, "No! Do not live like a did, for the love of Christ! Do not be that guy!"

I totally understand, man. I know the feeling. Fortunately a lot of manipulators are low-key about what they do, and it's always going to be a vocal minority that causes any fuss.

Best,
Vince
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,740
2,854
After reading this thread, ...
"This was filmed during my last day in Texas. It represents my accomplishments and my failures - I learned a lot over the years.

In terms of style, I wanted this video to be different than anything else I've put out."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jXyJD-zO8c&list=PLJf6qqwxu8

I've kind of dropped out of this due to the fact that I don't really have anything new to say. But this is a video that shows promise for flourishing. But let's look at it objectively.

The music is a good selection, I think, as it lends itself to a contemplative mood which seems to be what he was going for. There are some really nice shots that go well with the music. The feeling I get is someone who's trying to figure stuff out, though I'm getting that not from the video per se but from the description. The flourishing is actually at odds with the music and the contemplative tone because it's clearly a more frantic collection of motion that has been slowed down in editing.

I don't really see much of a story here. The video itself gives very little. The title "Last Day" and the expression on his face gives you a feeling that he's thinking about his life and where it's going, kind of saying good bye to where he's at now. I like that. But the flourishing does nothing to advance that narrative. In fact, it stalls the narrative and distracts the mind from it.

The video itself is unique-ish and sets itself apart, but the 'cardistry' (a term I still dislike to this day) actually detracts, in my mind, because it looks the same as all the other flourishing I've seen, and doesn't jive with the rest of the video except having been shoehorned into it via solid editing skills. So, in summation, I like everything about that video except the flourishes.

I have no doubts that there are people who can create an actual, artistic performance with a purely manipulation based act. That is why I keep forcing myself to watch these videos even though I don't like them. I'm hoping some day I will find someone who does this stuff in a way that shows real artistic merit.

And let me just say, Vinnie, that you are the first proponent of flourishing to actually engage in this discussion with me. As Steerpike has said, usually when I start bringing up these points, they just get defensive and bail. So thanks for that.
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
I've kind of dropped out of this due to the fact that I don't really have anything new to say. But this is a video that shows promise for flourishing. But let's look at it objectively.

[...]

I have no doubts that there are people who can create an actual, artistic performance with a purely manipulation based act. That is why I keep forcing myself to watch these videos even though I don't like them. I'm hoping some day I will find someone who does this stuff in a way that shows real artistic merit.

I pretty much completely agree with your assessment - this video is definitely a step up from the norm, but it still doesn't quite make the leap into being an integrated presentation. The thing is, making a video into a full artistic and plot-based presentation can take a lot of work to pull off well. And since most manipulators are making videos for other manipulators, and since many (or most) manipulators don't care as much about plot or integrated presentations, they don't bother with it. It stinks, but there ya go.

And let me just say, Vinnie, that you are the first proponent of flourishing to actually engage in this discussion with me. As Steerpike has said, usually when I start bringing up these points, they just get defensive and bail. So thanks for that.

My pleasure! I have found this whole discussion very enlightening and fun, so thanks for that. I was one of a modest number of people who wouldn't mind more in-depth discussions about the nature of the art and how to advance it back when I was active 4 years ago - but it looks like a lot of the other people have left since that time, as well. Here's to hoping we can bring those viewpoints back. ;)

Cheers,
Vinnie
 
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Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
The thing is, making a video into a full artistic and plot-based presentation can take a lot of work to pull off well.

And that's the thing most people have a hard time with. Anything worth doing is going to require some effort. I can attest that it's difficult, but I feel very rewarded when I see the whole thing come together in the editing timeline, piece by piece.

To give you a rough idea of what making a good video takes, for one of my classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, I had to put together a 2 1/2 minute video using only found footage. I decided to make a gag music video with horror movie clips to be cute. Selecting the song, ripping the video from my DVD collection, storyboarding it, importing all the clips, putting it together in the timeline, tweaking everything, and exporting it to a proper file format... At about an hour or two a day, it took me two weeks.

But hey, you want a good looking video, you gotta work for it.
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
And that's the thing most people have a hard time with. Anything worth doing is going to require some effort. I can attest that it's difficult, but I feel very rewarded when I see the whole thing come together in the editing timeline, piece by piece.

But hey, you want a good looking video, you gotta work for it.

I totally agree! Most people either simply do not have the technology, tools or expertise to pull off a truly compelling video (the majority) or just don't care enough to make one (the minority). It then becomes our job, if we care to make something that is thoroughly entertaining, to learn how to pull it off, and get our hands on whatever tools we can to make it possible.

Best,
Vince
 
Oct 15, 2011
76
0
Why am I not surprised?

Let me add that as another problem with manipulation artistry and card fetishists in particular: as soon as the discussion starts getting complex and talking about performance theory, they bail.

To clarify why I'm leaving, it is because I know there is no way I will convince you over the internet or the other way around. I would gladly debate this in person where it could be handled in a timely fashion. (Also I am not good at writing and cannot convey my ideas very well through text as you can so I'm not going to try)
 

Vinnie C.

cardistry moderator / t11
Aug 31, 2007
352
2
Los Angeles, CA
To clarify why I'm leaving, it is because I know there is no way I will convince you over the internet or the other way around. I would gladly debate this in person where it could be handled in a timely fashion. (Also I am not good at writing and cannot convey my ideas very well through text as you can so I'm not going to try)

Let me just clarify, though, that the idea of this whole thing wasn't a debate or an argument so much as a civil discussion about the nature of manipulation as an art. Of course these types of conversations can go south sometimes, but everyone is being pretty chill, here. :) We all have our individual viewpoints, and don't need to change anyone else's. If anything, this just serves to help us understand where we are each coming from and see common ground as entertainers and performers.

Best,
Vince
 
Jul 13, 2010
526
34
I always thought Flourishing was different from manipulation.
Manipulation is something like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVe7chIgn0w while flourishing is more like showing skill and card juggling without the magic, meaning and structure! of an "old school" manipulation act.
I could be wrong, but that`s how it is shown by the flourishing generation today. Well, most of what I`ve seen. Just go to a magic convention and see how much people are more enjoying card juggling instead of showing something meaningful.
Nothing wrong with that, just not what I enjoy watching. While a good manipulation act is really entertaining to me.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,740
2,854
I always thought Flourishing was different from manipulation.
Manipulation is something like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVe7chIgn0w while flourishing is more like showing skill and card juggling without the magic, meaning and structure! of an "old school" manipulation act.
I could be wrong, but that`s how it is shown by the flourishing generation today. Well, most of what I`ve seen. Just go to a magic convention and see how much people are more enjoying card juggling instead of showing something meaningful.
Nothing wrong with that, just not what I enjoy watching. While a good manipulation act is really entertaining to me.

The context the word "manipulation act" has in this conversation doesn't pertain to magic specifically. It's referring to manipulating an object in a dextrous manner.

such as: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX7xruR12YA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GePGEBB6dfs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLkU1kZrsWU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKTZJRBlKyM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaGueqsQ4P0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdLt70d-4kQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTIbc7WKoKs
And
http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_moschen_juggles_rhythm_and_motion.html

The last one shows a bunch of different stuff and some of the theory behind it.

There's a bunch of videos from Raw Art in those links because they seem to get the idea of how to make a really good performance out of prop manipulation.

The card manipulation acts do fall under this category, too, don't get me wrong. As do CDs, billiard balls, etc. All of this came from the same basic skills and were developed in these different directions. Of course, that's always been my point when it comes to flourishing vs. magic - Flourishing is a subset of juggling, and magic is its own skill set.

I think the biggest issue with the flourishing community and its propensity for producing homogenous videos is the insular nature of the skill. People sit at home and work on the same moves and combinations over and over. Broaden your horizons and experience other forms of performance and let those performances influence your performances and make them better. That being the key word, of course. It can always get better. The moves themselves are esoteric. But create a real performance out of it and everyone can enjoy it.
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
I think the biggest issue with the flourishing community and its propensity for producing homogenous videos is the insular nature of the skill. People sit at home and work on the same moves and combinations over and over. Broaden your horizons and experience other forms of performance and let those performances influence your performances and make them better. That being the key word, of course. It can always get better. The moves themselves are esoteric. But create a real performance out of it and everyone can enjoy it.

It's like those guys who spend 8 hours a day locked in their room practicing their guitar skills, then you hear their original compositions and it's all boring crap. They have nothing to say, nothing really interesting to do with this skill set.
 
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