Strong as an oak

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

  1. #61 Andrei, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2013
    Ha it was aimed at quite a few posts. How much sense would it make if I showed up to a skateboarding (which I can't do) forum and said "All the videos you guys recently produce completely suck, most of them show only your feet and they don't have any story or emotional pull. I can't ever see this being done on stage. I don't like it. Challenge yourself!"

    They'd look at me like I was crazy.

    Point being, why would you judge anything like that? I would never judge magic by the 95% of the bad/boring magic that I see. There's some amazing talent out there.

    As for bad theater. 99% of them aren't aimed for that purpose. However, it doesn't mean it's impossible or non existent. I hope you as an entertainer can see the potential. If not, let's go see a few Cirque shows.
  2. #62 Steerpike, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2013
    I'm pretty sure the way people are presenting themselves was a part of that. These kids have the technical chops, but no one ever showed them how to present it.

    I have that whole stickied thread up there about digital video. If anyone reads that and doesn't recognize it as good advice, then I'm at a bit of a loss what more you want from me.

    In the case of every guy I've criticized, it would be fixing the mistakes I pointed out. Unfortunately, not many of them do. Too many of them came here looking for ego gratification and got mad that someone didn't give it to them. They're the ones who chose, "Screw you." Remember Lamont McGee? I give him credit for one thing. As obnoxious as he was, he was one of only three people here to date that took my advice and started recording himself performing for a live audience. He is the last one who did that.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who do. I've lost more gigs because someone thought all magicians were like Gob from Arrested Development than I did because someone was a born again fundie who thought I was an agent of the devil.
  3. That was good advice. Very helpful thread. We don't need to be Stanley Kubrick to give good valuable advice. However, it helps to have done great things if you decide to play the role of the critic. Don't you agree?

    Again I don't think the discussion is too focused on giving advice to improve videos but rather the merits of cardistry and why it's "objectively bad because it doesn't have emotion so I don't like it".
  4. I'm inclined to believe that academic knowledge is not something to be scoffed at either. So long as it doesn't come from ivory tower arrogance. I've worked in theater in film. I'm still paying my dues, but I'd like to think I can credibly say, "You're looking at the floor too much. Make more eye contact."

    Everyone criticizing manipulation artistry is asking to be proven wrong.
  5. Really interesting thread going on here. Being a cardist myself, I feel I need to throw in my two ¢'s. I would say that most of the criticisms stated here are valid and reasonable. I tend to agree with most of you that cardistry has become uninspiring, predictable, and plain boring. I can see this in my own flourish videos, yet I really have no desire to resolve the issue. I guess it boils down to the fact that it's not easy or self gratifying to try something outside the box, merely for the purpose of unconventionality.

    95% of flourishers are self indulgent when it comes to cardistry. (including myself) We do what we do because we love it. It entertains us and makes us happy. It just so happens that what flourishers find entertaining in their work is not shared by outsiders. So we have all these flourishers who are inspired by their own work and completely unphased by the work produced around them. While this is a good thing for the flourishers themselves, it's detrimental to the artform.

    What needs to change? I'm not really sure. But cardistry and cardistry media needs to evolve into something that can be enjoyed by outsiders or it's going to die out.

  6. That's not how I understood it. Either way, not sure anyone can be "proven wrong". If some magicians don't like cardistry, that's totally fine. I've come across hundreds of magicians and lay people that love it and see it as an art.
  7. Well Andrei you did quote a majority of my words there so pardon me if I thought the elephant was mine. You know I'm direct Sir.

    In every video I've ever critiqued I've never spoken about the technical skill involved. I'm no more qualified to say this spinning card thing was executed correctly than you are to comment on a half axel folly.

    But I have made some horrible mistakes in filmin videos for the web and all I want is to make sure people know that the simplist tweaks can really make the difference. I am blunt. Painfully so at times but that's how my best teachers were with me.

    The difference between cardistry and skateboarding though is that one of them is still a bit more of a performance art.

    Look man I'm willing to take your challenge. I've got a few videos up on YouTube. And you've seen me live at wonderground. If you want to have a go at me please do so. I'd welcome the critique.

    I've neve seen a cirq show, I'd love to go on grounds alone that it would be something new.

    Maybe this is a fundamental flaw in my programing. I go big or I go home. I'm all in, so I don't understand (easily) someone doing something for anything less than show. My default is that I am talking to others who aspire to e better showman. Maybe that is where I'm missin the train here.

  8. That. Right there. That sums up the point that myself and others have been making in this thread for 6+ pages.

    It doesn't matter what appeals to you or what appeals to other manipulators. That's not what we're talking about here. We're discussing the merits of manipulation as a stand-alone spectator-friendly art. The kind of thing that an entire show for laymen can be built upon.

    As I've made clear - I know this is perfectly do-able. It does, however, take a lot of work, effort and creativity to pull off.

    Magic is inherently "easier" to make entertaining because it is the magic itself that mystifies and entertains. More work must go into making a display of skill entertaining because nothing is hidden - it is the visual aspect alone that must entertain.

    Thus, we must color and flavor it. Fill it out. Make it something special.

    So let's not get too far off track about manipulation appealing to manipulators - which is a given - and how we perceive it. This is about manipulation being a stand-alone and mainstream art, appealing to the masses.

    We can do it, it can be done, but it's work.


    P.S. As always, please bear in mind that manipulation is all that I do. I am capable in many forms of magic, but I don't do it. I am a pure manipulator, so this is certainly something that I am passionate about and interested in seeing prosper and succeed.
  9. #69 Andrei, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2013
    I think important to keep in mind that as card guys who have been doing this for 5+ / 10+ years, it's not necessarily about the art evolving so much as it is about personal evolution. The art has evolved as much as it needs to for all intensive purpose. There's really no excuse on that front.

    Take Michael for example. He makes beautiful videos and has great talent. However, at the longevity and rate of doing these videos, it's easy to understand why it becomes uninspiring. Besides getting a super slow motion or a Panavision film camera with direction from Christopher Nolan, it's tough to push the boundaries on the digital front - so you're left feeling uninspired. As would anyone else, making/watching the same substance for years. The same however, doesn't apply to those who are just starting out. It's that excitement when learning how to edit, getting your camera, creating that new move, sharing it and getting props for it. Remember? Passion is retained in the pursuit of new roads which is why it comes down to you to make it work again. Keep it fresh. Feel uncomfortable. If you're not feeling like a beginner, you're not learning. It's far from dead or dying from my perspective.

    If you're bored, find new ways to get inspired. Don't be so afraid to feel embarrassed and drop cards from time to time. Get feedback. Make new friends. Enter contests. Reach out to media outlets to get published. Participate. Whatever works. And if you're not the performing type, forget everything you know and learn new things that make you feel like a beginner all over again. I do that all the time. It really never ends if you still love what you do.
  11. While I believe the art will and should always be evolving - a dead-end in that regard will kill it as fast as anything - that's not quite the point. It's not, in its entirety, about technique. We're discussing more in the area of presentation. How do you construct a performance that is highly entertaining not only to other manipulators (which is fairly straightforward), but to laypeople? That is, more than anything, what will transform manipulation into a full-fledged mainstream art.

    It's also not about technology. A decent camera and editing program are important, but you don't need top-of-the-line by any means. Things like story, choreography, music, timing and other creative touches turn a "video" into a presentation.

    Maybe not among the (arguably) dwindling number of people who practice it - but it's irrefutably declining in the online scene. All of the major communities are long-dead. There are no major manipulation communities anymore, when there used to be 4 (prospering at different times, but none-the-less active).

    It's unfortunate, but we have to confront some of the hard developments in this field. I've been gone for 4 years, so it's a very stark contrast for me to come back to the way things are now, compared to how they were when I left (and especially just prior to that, when Decknique was still alive).

    But on a personal level, yeah, I completely agree. We need to keep it fresh and continue to grow for the sake of our own passion. I'm just talking about the art as a whole, as it is presented, and its online presence.

  12. And this is where I once again roll out my old chestnut: kvlt kiddie syndrome. Vinnie is right, and through the following convoluted story, I will explain why.

    For those of you who are not metalheads, the subgenre of black metal unofficially started in the 80's with bands like Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, and to a point Mercyful Fate. But the genre as we know it officially took shape in Norway in the late 80's and early 90's with bands like Mayhem, Immortal and Burzum. These bands had tremolo picked riffs with the mids turned way up on the amp EQ, blast beats, and phlegmy, inhuman vocals with lyrics about dark fantasies, Satanic imagery, anti-Christian messages, and apocalyptic metaphors. On stage, the bands typically dress in elaborate and menacing outfits with black and white "corpsepaint" to make themselves look more unreal.

    The height of black metal's fame was in the early 90's. The bands were getting more press on their bizarre behavior and confrontational relationship with the media. It was the most virulently anti-mainstream music ever. The peak came in rapid order. Not long after Mayhem's vocalist, Per Yngwe Olse (stagename "Dead") committed suicide, the band's guitarist was murdered. He was stabbed to death by Varg Vikernes, the band's former bassist and the founder of the one-man band Burzum. Varg pled guilty to the charges of murder, as well as charges of arson. Probably worth mentioning at this point that Varg is an anti-Christian Aryan supremacist who organized the burning of several churches before his arrest. He enjoyed being Norway's boogeyman as long as people were willing to point cameras at him.

    Unfortunately, illegal activities were the only thing that could keep black metal in the spotlight. It maintained its anti-mainstream ethos and has pursued it to sometimes absurd extremes. In the mid-2000's, a group of black metal bands demanded that their band profiles be taken off of the wiki Metal Archives, which has a profile page for every metal band that has recorded at least one record. These bands claimed that being on the internet was too mainstream and was hurting their credibility in the scene. The admins of the site laughed and called them "kvlt kiddies." This comes from an inside joke that black metal fans refer to things they like with words such as "kvlt," "nekro" and "troo." No one actually uses these words unironically but you get the idea.

    And this is where kvlt kiddie syndrome comes from. It's when you become so convinced that what you're doing is perfect that you never reach out to other audiences. Black metal is so anti-mainstream that it's actually stagnating due to an inability to rotate in new blood fast enough. Manipulation artistry is going to have the same problem unless they get their act together and start reaching out to more audiences.
  13. #73 Andrei, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2013
    Correct. It is always evolving. Not sure I understand the definition of a conclusive "dead-end" in this case. It may be a dead end for many veterans but the journey you started a long time ago will be recycled by the new generation. It's undeniably growing continuously despite the dwindling forums (which I don't think are the ultimate "indicators" of failure if you will). I think the ratios will remain largely the same as the population grows. No denying that in the recent years we've seen communities pop up in Asia and especially in India (quite a bit actually). It's definitely not going to "explode" though. At this point, any kind of overall growth would be personal first and foremost. We agree.

    However, I truly think that for all "intensive purposes" the art has grown as much as it needs to. I'm not sure that "moving forward" is the best way to look at it. Moving forward is implying a single direction for which the only thing I can link to in "quantitative" terms would be technique (which is why I mentioned it). It gets more complex with time, it goes forward. Personally, I look at it from a growth perspective. It's either growing/expanding outward or not. Again, undeniable that it's growing. Maybe slightly slower, but growing nonetheless.

    I understand you're referring to going forward in terms of presentation and performing. However, presentation and show biz are not exclusive or unique to cardistry. That's obviously been around forever. Which is why I think it's a personal conscious decision to incorporate those age old concepts to cardistry. Lights, choreography, music, comedy, perhaps story, and audience involvement and interaction. That's not really moving forward as a whole. That's personally setting a goal (if that is your goal) and doing it. The art has moved forward enough, now do something with it. Professionals have always been the minority. However, not committing to becoming one does not imply stagnation or eminent death of the art either.

    Much like juggling. Not everyone who likes to juggle works on character and theatrical presentation. There is a minority that does it for a living, and there are most that don't care to pursue that road. Either way, it's not dead or dying due to majority not caring much outside being a hobbyist. Ultimately up to us to take it outside the bedroom and do something with it. In effect, I suppose you can say the art would be moving forward. I would say that's more of a personal achievement. I'm not entirely convinced it would ever be "mainstream" though. It'll always be a niche. Technically a niche within a niche. Nicheception.

    I would love to see (myself included) people go out and not just go to magic conventions and preach to the choir. Rather, expand to meetings/conventions and jam sessions with jugglers or acrobats. I think that's a direction that would really expose it a bit more. Always important to get different perspectives.
  14. First, I will point out that I only respond to videos asking for feedback. When capable, I give advice on how to develop the technical skill, as well as separate suggestions for how to make the video more appealing to non-manipulator audiences.

    I recognize the appeal of skill based performance. I've been in that world for a third of my life. I've seen what could be some of the best prop manipulators on the planet, certainly within the top 200. But it gets old, fast. I can barely watch Poi spinners any more because I've seen so much of it, it now all looks pretty much the same to me and I even understand the skill going into it. I'm not saying that every video has to be story boarded scripted and scored. There is definitely a place for purely skill based videos and if that's what someone's going for, more power to them.

    However, if they ask for feedback and I have some, I will provide it in as objective a way as I can manage.

    I also want to point out that I don't think magicians are any better than manipulators. Magicians tend to do plenty of the boring crap, too. I don't like to watch a video of someone doing the same sponge ball routine with the same corny jokes I've heard a million times. I don't like to watch disembodied hands producing aces with some minute variation that I can't even discern but somehow makes it so much better than the method it's based on. I can only think of a few magic videos that actually interest me. I rarely watch them all the way through because they are just not entertaining. My complaints about flourishing videos are largely the same complaints I have about magic videos and juggling videos and any other video I watch.

    I want to be entertained when I watch a video (unless it's specifically a "Check out this technique" video).

    Here, I'll give two examples.
    Not a great video. Repetitive, people who don't spin poi won't get the variations of tricks, it looks like the same thing over and over. This is not a rehearsed performance, the techniques are out of practice, and the performer is a bit tipsy. You can tell he's making it up as he goes and he's having to think about what to do next which accounts for the long pauses between any discernible 'tricks'. Oh yeah, and that's me, by the way.

    Now this one:
    I think this video is great. There's clear characters showing through, there's a story line, there's excellent technical skill across a variety of props. The editing is spot on, the music works great with it, they've clearly figured out what's going into the video before hand (or edited enough footage to make it look that way). The manipulation flows perfectly with the story and adds to it. It's funny and cute and a little sad. Excellent work in that video.

    I'm sick and tired of the first type of video and I strive for the second. I want everyone watching the video to find something that they can be entertained by, even if they have no concept of the skill involved. If someone asks for my thoughts on a video, I guarantee they will be along those lines.

    Feel free to ignore any of my advice, it won't hurt my feelings and you don't have to do what I say. You being the plural, anonymous you, not you specifically Andrei. Every artist should do what they feel is their art, taking in whatever enhances their vision of their art and dismissing whatever doesn't. This is an ongoing, ever evolving concept. To get annoyed at advice that you see often is pointless. Just ignore it if it doesn't help you, listen to it if it does. But always strive to make good art.
  15. And that's how a discussion should always be. Not "I hate all cardistry videos, they all suck, I'm bored." That's definitely stepping it up a notch. I don't think it started out that way though which is why I chimed in. Awesome. Now if that level of constructiveness was given to specific videos, perhaps some of them wouldn't be as bad as you think.
  16. That kind of circles back to what we've been discussing, Andrei. Flourishers tend to be a defensive lot when they feel like the validity of their performances is questioned. Come to think of it, most performers share this kind of insecurity. So when someone puts a post up asking for advice, who then receives advice that maybe they don't like so much, they lash out. Or someone else steps in and lashes for them, along the lines of, "He doesn't have to do that, he can do whatever he wants. It doesn't have to be artistic"

    You see this in the magic community a lot as well, when someone doesn't agree that this particular rendition of the ACR isn't the next Mona Lisa.
  17. #77 Andrei, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 3, 2013
    True. Some are very defensive about it, definitely in agreement there. I don't think the thread was about one's ability to accept criticism. Certainly wasn't giving constructive advice to any specific video/cardist - more just venting why they don't like or find little merit in it. It certainly helps to give encouraging advice to those who asked.
  18. I will agree that some of the people were just venting, but others of us were searching for ways to improve the artistic merit of the videos in question in our own opinions.

    I think I may try to put my money where my mouth is. A friend of mine is pretty good with videos and does some flourishing. I'm going to try to put something together to see if I can't make a flourishing video which includes what I'm looking for in videos.
  19. That would be awesome!
  20. #80 Vinnie C., Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2013

    An art, field or subject that ceases to evolve, change and adapt. Once creation and continuation of it stops, it will stagnate and eventually decline. This "creation" and "continuation" manifests as progressive evolution in how individuals engage with the field and how their actions within it are conducted.

    If we keep it "same ol' same ol'", we'll have this phenomenon start to pop up, as we already have seen.

    The online scene is absolutely an indication of the health of this field - as those not actively participating online are either no longer engaged in the field or begin to drop off in due time. I only say this based on experience of speaking with a lot of "old school" people since I've come back, and researching where people who were active even 1 or 2 years ago are now.

    About growth, however, I'd have to disagree there. Are you saying that the manipulation scene is bigger, more active, and more productive now than it was when Decknique, Handlordz, Dan and Dave and United Cardists were all active?

    I don't think that any art can hit a point where it has grown "as much as it needs to". What if Fine Artists decided that the current methods of painting were enough? What if they thought that 300 years ago? We wouldn't have advanced to our current level. The inherently beautiful quality of any artistic pursuit is that it is evolving, advancing, living and breathing on a continuous basis. That's what makes it creative - people creating it, adding to it, changing it.

    Let's not get tied up in semantics. All I mean is that the art must continue to advance (as it did from 1998 - 2010/11 or so, and does so on a much lesser scale right now). If it doesn't grow, it shrinks. Nothing will simply stay the same, as over time some people are guaranteed to drop off. More have to be coming in than are leaving.

    Presentation doesn't have to be unique to manipulation for it to be part of manipulation. All told, it makes manipulation better, especially for laypeople - which is virtually the whole of my point.

    Of course it's personal - but that doesn't change the fact that more people holding themselves to that standard would improve the art as a whole. It'd make the videos quite a bit more interesting to watch.

    Also bear in mind that this is a gradient thing - it's not "either this video looks like a $100 million production, or it looks like my uncle filmed it with a cucumber". There are plenty of ways to make large and small improvements to the way you (the general "you") present your art and the media that you produce. Any improvement is always awesome, it doesn't have to be massive.

    I discussed this above, but I want to mention again that I feel it is very limiting to think that the art, in its current state, is as good as it's going to get, as "moved forward" as it needs to be, etc. There is so much more that can be done with it.

    No one needs to be professional, that's not what I'm saying. I'm only talking about presenting yourself to a higher standard - whether that's in the form of online videos, a group of friends, or a packed auditorium. I don't care where your passions or ambitions with the field lie, I'm just saying that - wherever they lie - kick ass at it. :)

    Granting that juggling is inherently less variable (in the number of unique individual motions possible) than card handling, it is also something that the average layperson is used to and can understand - and thus can enjoy it all the more. Card manipulation has not reached that point. But, with the ideas we've been discussing in this thread, it could.


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