Strong as an oak

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by card, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. 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.

  2. Amazingly I have completely lost interest in this discussion. Good day

  3. 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.

  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  6. 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?"
  7. 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.

  8. 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.
  9. 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

  10. 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!"
  11. 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.

  12. 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.
  13. #33 Vinnie C., Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2013
    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.

    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. ;)

  14. 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.
  15. 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.

  16. 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)
  17. 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.

  18. #38 ChrisWiens, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2013
    I always thought Flourishing was different from manipulation.
    Manipulation is something like 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.
  19. 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:

    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.
  20. 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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