What Are Some Solutions?

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waynehouchin

theory11 artist
Aug 31, 2007
298
1
Chico, CA
www.waynehouchin.com
October 5th - 7th, 2007 :: Now that we've defined some problems within our art, It is important that we discuss & find some PRACTICAL solutions. Read through the thread for September's Cerca Trova (What is Wrong With Magic...) What are some solutions to those problems?
 

waynehouchin

theory11 artist
Aug 31, 2007
298
1
Chico, CA
www.waynehouchin.com
Greetings! First off I want to say that I will be in Sacramento all day tomorrow & then I'll be on a plane all day Sunday. I'm going to chime in when I can, but I'm also going to keep this thread open for a few more days.

So, lets get this ball rolling. Last month we discussed some of the problems & issues within our art. There were a ton of great responses & some very thought provoking answers. This month, I want to discuss some practical solutions to those problems. There were a lot to tackle, so go back & read through last months topic to refresh your memories.

One of the most commonly mentioned problems is that people don't seem to respect our art as much as we think they should. First, I would like to say that it is OUR JOB to earn respect & we must not fall into the trap of blaming the audience for not recognizing our art as much as we think they should.

When I was younger, I stressed out about telling people that I was a magician. I almost felt embarrassed to say it... As I grew & matured I developed a certain amount of confidence in what I do. I gained PRIDE in what I do. I no longer have any problems explaining to people exactly what it is that I do - I am PROUD of it.

My point is that as soon as I started taking pride in what I do & really started treating magic with the respect that it deserves - my perception of how people respond to magic completely changed. I personally believe that magic is more respected than we give it credit for. I think that our art suffers from some of the same problems that other arts suffer from - I think people have a natural tendency to be a little skeptical of "artists." The struggling artist is a strong archetypal image & I believe that every "artist" who is not famous - has to prove themselves to the laity. However, when you are embarrassed of your art - or you assume that people are not going to take you seriously - you project that. You expect people to laugh at you & therefore you perceive that they do.

I think that we need to respect our art & ourselves - and take PRIDE in what we do. If we do that, I think we will find that others do as well. What are your thoughts?
 
The bigger problems explained were lack of respect and exposure, if I remember correctly. The only solution I can think of to lack of respect is, in all honesty, just get better at it. I had a whole table of people the other day ask me how I did a trick (I didnt tell them and it was sinful) and they said after that it didn't even matter how did it but the fact that I could do it well was insane in itself (I am not even that good! haha) Practice more, which brings in Waynes "Take Pride" comment. Keep effects in your bedroom until you can get them down so well that the art becomes so well done that people can't help but respect it.


As for exposure, I am stumped. It's like Physics 30 homework, I kind of just hope it will go away.
 
Sep 1, 2007
410
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The bigger problems explained were lack of respect and exposure, if I remember correctly. The only solution I can think of to lack of respect is, in all honesty, just get better at it. I had a whole table of people the other day ask me how I did a trick (I didnt tell them and it was sinful) and they said after that it didn't even matter how did it but the fact that I could do it well was insane in itself (I am not even that good! haha) Practice more, which brings in Waynes "Take Pride" comment. Keep effects in your bedroom until you can get them down so well that the art becomes so well done that people can't help but respect it.


As for exposure, I am stumped. It's like Physics 30 homework, I kind of just hope it will go away.

Agreed, as for exposure. The main problem is that there is no one telling these beginners what to do. I was like that. Here is what I mean. I thought the cool thing to do when I first got into magic, was to post tutorials on youtube. And I was going to, but then I read some stuff on E, about people talking about it, and it showed me how wrong it was to do so.

This is the problem, I had no one guiding me when I first started out, and a lot of other people have the same problem. So we get lost. Forget about specs respecting our art, most magicians don't respect our art, and thats worse.

We need to guide them. I think people like Wayne, well, really every magician here, needs to come right out against exposure, and how we need to respect magic. Because these are the people the beginners in our art, model them self after.


But how would you do this? I have no idea. Make a video of it, I guess put it in all your dvd's, at the end of each one? put it on the site? those are some ideas.

But do not only talk about exposure, but how much we need to practice as well. And how we owe it to our self and to our audience to do the best show that we can do. And this comes from lots of practice. I never hear this from anyone, and it needs to be said, or we our not going to get any where. In other words...guide them.

In my mind, this needs to be done, and would be a big step forward.
 
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Hi,

I have read the whole previous thread yesterday and wrote a bit of a summary. I agree with Wayne that self respect is a problem. And there are some solutions to overcome this.

First of all I would like to stress that magic (and any other type of performance) has the potential to be art - just performing a couple tricks or singing a song does not make one an artist.

One point mentioned was that magicians present themselves as tricksters instead of 'miracle workers'. I think this is not a lack of respect for the art, but a case of te magician not believing in the magic ourselves.

I used to be like that and turned away from magic in disappointment ten years ago. I recently returned to being a magician and have become much better in a shorter time because I have changed my attitude. Specially after seeing Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger in a convention, I became truly inspired to change my mindset and improve my magic.

One thing Eugene Burger said stuck in my mind: "Don't do anything you don't have the skill for". So I stick to very simple stuff and work more on the presentation. I am testing this out tomorrow when I compete in my clubs annual competition. I fill 8 minutes of magic and only use two moves. I'll let you know how it went :)

I would also like to add my two cents about exposure. I do not see that as a great problem. I have performed the Ninja Rings with great success for some time now. One day somebody told me they bought a set of linking rings in the toy shop. "But my rings can't do what yours do", he said. I guess the hours and hours or practice getting the technique and choreography right paid off!

So my second solution to the problem is PRACTICE! I have been back in magic for one year now and only do a handful of effects, because they are the only ones I feel comfortable performing. Looking at Youtube, more people should keep this in mind. And it would also be good to actually see people's faces: magic is not about the props, it is about the magician.

Thanks for starting this great discussion Wayne.

Peter
 

Gin

Oct 5, 2007
9
0
Europe
Hi everybody,

I missed last months topic so please excuse me to explain my point of view about the reasons why magic does not get the respect that it deserves first:

Magicians always try to adapt their performance to customers needs as much as they can. We do walk acts under the worst circumstances, we try to include even the most boring message into our performance at a trade show. We arrive at private parties and are able to play our act even on the smallest stage. What is the conclusion out of this: We do everything to fit the clients needs. They dictate in which venue we have to perform. They don't care about the live band, that plays loud during our close-up act, because we promised to perform at every place at every time. Often we behave more like a prostitute than an artist.

Take a look at other artists: A painter is drawing a picture in his personal style. As he likes to draw it. He does not ask the customer how he likes to have it drawn. An actor is always playing a role in his personal interpretation. Not like the spectators in a theatre or movie dictates him to play.

First, I would like to say that it is OUR JOB to earn respect & we must not fall into the trap of blaming the audience for not recognizing our art as much as we think they should.

That is exactly the point. To earn more respect for our art, we have to set the circumstances. One possible solution could be to bring magic back to the theatre. Imagine yourself playing on a real stage (whith a real curtain), not only small sets of five or ten minutes, but for two hours including a break! Here we have the great opportunity to present our art as we want it to be seen. We set the stage, we are responsible for all the circumstances and we have the time to communicate our point of view. We have the time to show all the interesting aspects of our well worked out stage persona and last but not least: People come into the theater, because they want to see us and our magic. Not we come to the people and bring our magic to them (whether they want it or not).

Consider magicians like Copperfield or Lance Burton. They are definitely seen as artists by the public. They work in theatres. Can you imagine Robert Houdin doing walk acts or trade shows?

Please understand that I do not condemn those kind of gigs at all. After all, we have to eat and earn money. But the question was what we can do to earn more respect for our art. This is one possible solution. Go, find a small theatre (perhaps 30 or 50 seats) and try it out for yourself! By the way: Working on a two-hour-show is a lot of fun, you'll learn a lot and grow in your art.

Cheers,

Gin
 
Sep 1, 2007
314
0
I think that something that could solve a lot of things hurting magic is to start treating it like an art. When someone sees Criss Angel or someone like that on TV, they think that it's really cool and visual and is great magic. However, it's really making them appreciate magic less. Magic used to be an art, that you needed to concentrate on the trick to truly be amazed. Now it's more WOAH MAN HOW DID YOU DO THAT!

I'm not saying that magic shouldn't be visual, I'm saying that the whole trick should be a performance, not just the ending. Take this example: If you go to a concert and a chamber orchestra is playing, you sit through the whole thing and you enjoy the entire experience, not just the climax at the end of the piece. We need to make the whole trick entertaining. If you performed Two Card Monte and you talked in monotone the entire time, you are setting the spectators up to only enjoy the ending when the cards change. What I'm sayin is that you need to perform the whole time!

What I think people should do is to become better actors. That's really what a magician is. An actor. Use more entertaining patter, more intonations in voice, more variations of mood, more interaction with spectators, more connecting with them, more stories to tell, more passion in your voice. Just be a better actor. And when you do become a better actor, you'll see that the reactions don't come after the trick and end when they stop clapping, they go on and on in the spectators mind. Instead of them thinking, "Wow, that was amazing, I want to know how he did that, I'm going on Youtube to find out" They'll think, "What a funny guy." or "That was a good story" If they are younger.

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,"
~ William Shakespeare

As You Like It 2/7
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,247
1
I agree with the post above me. When people see magic, I'm estimating about 80% of people want to know how it's done. I think somehow if we can announce to layman that, we work REALLY hard. This is, well some of ours, life's work. And for all that to be thrown away by a stupid youtube video?


Adressing the youtube situation, to be honest I don't think it'll ever end. These people who are exposing magic are losing more then us. They will never have the chance to be a great magician, because all they do is expose.
 
Well there are so many problems, and the ones such as exposure and others require nothing more than ignoring it. There is truly not solution to that problem, it will always be there, but they can't expose everything, so keep positive.

I think for many teenagers/kids who come to these forums simply want to do magic for attention and to have something "cool" to show their friends. We must direct these people in the right direction to do this magic for more than just that little laugh from their friends. We must teach them that magic is more than just a 5 second trick but a wonderful experience. We must point them in the right direction to becoming a wonderful magician, performer, and amaze their audiences.

Mitchell
 
Sep 1, 2007
25
0
68
Ceres, Ca.
I hope you'll indulge an old man and his viewpoint.

For many of you there has never been life without ESPN, JACKASS or YOU-TUBE and that's why we have a problem in the magic community.

ESPN will show Shaq slam dunking a basketball with his team losing by 20 points and Shaq reacting like he just won the NBA finals with his self indulgent celebration.

JACKASS will have a guy run a bicycle into a brick wall and knock himself out and act like they just nailed the soliloquy from HAMLET.

YOU-TUBE presents a medium for those who will never be showcased on ESPN or JACK-ASS.

In this day and age of immediate gratification , it's hard to impress upon the novice magician that all his hard work should go completely unnoticed as a technician, because magicians make the audience see something that just can't be possible.

The intention of a good magic trick is to entertain, not impress upon the audience how clever and skillful the magician is with a deck of card or a stack of coins. This is precisely why flourishing is so popular these days so we can get our Shaq-like chest thumps in full view of the audience.

That's not a condemnation of flourishing, that takes as much practice as a good magic trick.

The bottom line for me is: if you're going to learn or teach magic it's important to realize that no one should ever see you do the pass or double lift and the longer and harder you work to perfect sleights, the more invisible to the audience they will be, therefore all the audience sees is; coin disappeared from left hand and reappeared in the right hand.........period. No back clips - no edge grip - no Kaps subtlety .............nothing. Just Coin disappeared - Coin reappeared. You may have worked 6 months to a year to perfect all the moves, manipulations and misdirections to make that coin disappear and reappear, but all the audience sees is the 30 seconds of mystery.

This is not in line with how many of the younger set perceives entertainment and why they need that ESPN moment.

What can be done?

Perform for audiences - not magicians.

Highlight your skill set - Do you want to impress audiences with your dexterity or stupefy them with the impossible? I suggest separating the two genres such as doing pure deceptive magic then as you finish your set, dazzle them as you leave with some flourishes.

Problem is, when you show the flourishes, you've given them a reasonable and plausible explanation for the card magic they thought was impossible.

Dave
 
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Spectators

Magic isn't as wide a form as some other art, and thus people don't understand it. Everything happens so fast and so thorough that they just don't get it. It stays with them for maybe that day, but then it's history. The magic that really excels is the type that stays with people forever.

If you go and see somebody levitate, cool, but it doesn't really matter.

If you go and see somebody make you levitate, that sticks with you forever. "I just floated three feet off the ground!" You're actually experiencing it; it's not possible.

Works with other tricks as well. But that's were magicians go wrong. They aren't opening up the tricks to spectators. It's always forgotten. You can do an extensive cups and balls routine, or you can do something extensive that actually involves the audience.

You pop one spongeball in their hand, one in yours, you open-instead of two being in your hand, there's two in their's. Why does that matter?

Because suddenly all the attention is on you. You just finished the trick. You aren't a magician yet you just performed magic.

Final thoughts: Involve your spectators. Support their beliefs. Make them feel like they are the magicians, not you.

PS. Worried about they getting all the fame and not you? Won't happen. Because the truth is: they can't do the trick without you.

- sky_lark
 
Oct 6, 2007
10
0
Television as it seems brought magic back to the general public, the problem is some of those effects on television is near impossible to perform live.
I am constantly compare to Criss Angel or David Blaine when I perfrom an effect.
So the only solution I see for people to respect all magicians is tone down the impossibility on television, and make a little personal miracle when you perform an effect.
Stop walking pass thin air or make people warp back in time. Because whatever people see on television, every magician is going to get compared to that.
Wayne Houchin's "Stigmata" seemed impossible to the audience, but can be perform by any magician. That's the type of miracle im getting at, not effects that bombard the mine.When people stop walking up buildings on TV then maybe i'll get a little respect.
 
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apprenticeships

Hey Guys:

Just a thought... I've been away from the net for a while, but when I started to read some of the posts on this thread today, I was reminded of something.

Magic has evolved for centuries, right? Some may even argue that magic has evolved over as much as 20,000 years. And now more than ever, it's available on an open market.

I recently returned to the art after a decade long hiatus. I was worried at first because I wasn't sure how easy it was going to be to pick it back up. What I found out was that anyone with a credit card can potentially become a magician. Of course not everyone can become a master or even a good magician as long as they own a PK ring or a custom deck of cards and a couple of instructional DVDs, but it is conceivable.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, I theorize that long ago, in order to become a magician, you had to really study. It wasn't about which trick you just purchased at the local shop or your favorite online store. You actually had to sit down and research the subject, practice the skills and undergo the training of a master showman. The little boys that climbed the Indian Ropes up into the air eventually grew up to become the guy that would climb up after the little boys only to chop them up into little pieces. ( If you don't know what I'm talking about - I highly recommend picking up any book on magic history at your local library.) In other words, to become a magician used to involve a rite of passage and that is not the case these days.

I, myself, would not say that I have a master teacher in the arts, but I do have a mentor. He has vastly helped me to advance in the art with nothing more than simple advice. Now I know that such advice can be found on any magic forum, but it means a lot more and holds steadily in the mind when it comes from someone you know and trust and have to face next time around when he asks "Well, did you do what I told you to do?"

I hope this doesn't read like mindless ramblings, but I was just inspired to suggest to all of my fellow conjurors - Find a mentor! Go to your local club meetings. Hit up the nearest shop. Find someone, anyone that is more experienced than you. Ask him or her if they wouldn't mind a session. The older guys will know exactly what you mean and there you have it - someone that will guide along the path of prestidigitation. I think you will find that when you meet a wise, old magician he will gladly share advice with you. We all want to help each other out. It's traditional among artists to share our knowledge with each other. Don't let that Christian Bale movie fool you - not all secrets have their price.

And that's my solution to one of magic's modern issues.

Peace be with you all and good luck,
Darsh
 
Magic as a Commodity

In this day and age of immediate gratification

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one Dave.

But I am not sure whether this is a sign of the times or the sign of a generation. When I was a teenager I performed magic much to fast, not giving attention to the detail of presentation and so forth.

There now seem to be hordes of teenagers coming to magic - which is really great. Twenty years ago, the average age of magicians seemed to be much higher.

This, in combination with the fact that it is now much easier to purchase good magic and places like Youtube, puts us in the current situation.

A solution to this problem is not easy. One of the early posts in the last topic mentioned lack of respect by the older magicians. I see this in my club: the older magicians don't understand what the younger magicians wants to achieve. So one of my solutions is to create some understanding and reduce the generation gap in magic, which will improve the magic teenagers perform.

We saw problems with the standard of magic in our club and now started a compulsory workshop where an experienced magician teaches the intricacies of performing magic.

I am the editor of my club's newsletter. Maybe I could raise the generation gap as a topic and tantalise some discussion.

Peter
 
.

We saw problems with the standard of magic in our club and now started a compulsory workshop where an experienced magician teaches the intricacies of performing magic.

I am the editor of my club's newsletter. Maybe I could raise the generation gap as a topic and tantalise some discussion.

Peter

That is something that will help alot. Many of the magicians I have met on forums are teenagers. The ones who are adults don't go on forums or even what to talk to you since they think your just a nieve "kid." Some of us who are teenagers or maybe even younger, in fact, are honestly really good magicians. I've seen performances on Youtube and other places and some are pretty good, and have practiced and have taken the time a intiative. The one thing that bugs me is the stereotype that most teens are here just to learn stuff buy every gimmick there is and then perform to look cool then tell the world. There is no real way to stop these people, it's their human nature and nothing can change that. With technology there will be no end unless we can pick out the best of the best of the people who actually take magic seriously. Obviously people who have been doing magic for 10-20 years know what's right and what's wrong with the "magicians code." We can only try and tell and convince these people what's right and wrong and doing that to every magician who has ever revealed a secret on youtube, will be endless. For a final solution, there isn't one, we can only hope people see the light at the end of the tunnel and realize magic is something you should respect and do for it, as it has done for you.

-RA69
 
Aug 31, 2007
5
0
Extract from Magic, November 1992.

"Quick: In the next five seconds try to name two branches of the performing arts where a performer who has no skill, has never practiced a day in his life and is absolutely awful at what he does, can earn a living. Beep. Time's up. Try this combo: magic and stripping. (Some people refer to the latter as exotic dancing.) A fellow walks into a store and buys a bunch of box tricks, has no talent and neoer practices, yet can work small jobs from now till doomsday and make a living. Strippers are lucky-at least they don't have to buy their apparatus: they're born with it! It doesn't matter if they're pretty or not, it couldn't be less important whether they can dance or not. They have the required parts. No talent, no practice, but making a living nonetheless. Actor? Forget it, you'd be out in a minute. Musician? Can't play your instrument if you haven't practiced. Dancer? Your body is your instrument, as in acting, and without a great deal of work you might as well not even show up. None of the more widely esteetned branches of the performing arts can be based solely, entirely, and completely on a "hook" or gimmick of some type. Even juggling, ventriloquism, and giving a chalk talk require some practice! Magic is based upon secrets (1 know something you don't), and stripping is based upon the lure of body parts (1 have something you want). If you know the secret or have the correct anatomy, you're in business. Thar's all, brother. Don't ever say that we never tackle the really important issues."

Richard Kaufman
 
Performance art

That is a great extract from Magic!

It begs the question, however, why somebody without much skill can become a professional magician. If this is the case, audiences obviously do not have very high expectations of what a magician does.

A distinctive difference between art and entertainment is that an artist has a product and then waits for audiences to become interested - which in some cases is only after death. An entertainer works the other way around - they create a product around what the market wants. I don't think that magic in the great majority of cases in an art, but is entertainment. There is nothing wrong with that, but we should not become too pretentious.

Most people are obviously happy with cheese sponge ball routines and meaningless card tricks.

The same is the case for most performing arts. Average music taste is not very high brow and not many people are interested in going to the theatre to enjoy a play. If audiences lower their expectations, so do the entertainers/magicians.

A solution: this is part of our cultural fabric. Although I don't believe people's psychology has changed, technology has created an environment in which this lowering of standards is encouraged - if it sells an add, it will get on tv. Maybe it is flagship magicians, such as the Theory11 artists who have a role to play in elevating people's expectations.

By the way, how about a combination of striptease and magic? English experimental performer Ursula Martinez performs some interesting pieces of theatre in that genre. Maybe she read the article in Magic and took it to the next level.

Peter
 

-Ty

Sep 1, 2007
248
1
Australia
Respect.

It all starts with us, with you, right here right now. Not theorising about what others can do, but putting a mentality to ourselves in this moment.

Respect our art/craft. Respect our effects.

What does that mean? Practice.

By practicing and learning our craft to the fullest extent possible, we will begin to respect the work and dedication that magic carries. Not only that, but this appreciation will carry through in performances and audiences will in turn bear more respect for what they are experiencing.

This will also help exposure, although this is a lesser problem. By stresssing the respect magic carries to other new magicians, we can begin to pull in a new appreciation for magic.
This comes back to the missing link of mentors and apprentices in magic. This type of learning is greatly lacking in today's scene, although in theory it should be easier.

But again, this exposure stems from a lack of respect within the community. And this starts with each and every one of us.

[/Preach mode]

Ty
 
Sep 1, 2007
888
0
33
Jamestown, NC
www.google.com
I agree with you 100% Wayne. I really think that we don't take as much pride in our magic and in ourselves as we should. I mean, an effect is only as good as the performer. We all need to forfill our obligation to practice as much as we can. We need to make sure that the work we produce and show to the masses isn't the half assed garbage that some heckler would post on youtube just because he can...and no one's there to stop him.

I also agree with those who said we need to make it our responsibility to guide those dubbed as "newbies". I remember when I first started out, I had no clue how disrespectful it was to perform an effect that you didn't pay for. When you buy a DVD or a book that explains every detail on how to perform an effect it's like buying the rights to perform it and signing a contract saying "I swear never to screw this up in front of my audience."

We do need to take some form of effective action against exposure. What that is yet...I'm not sure, but I'm sure that we'll have an effective solution sometime in the future.

As of now, all we can do is practice our sets and place ourselves under a magnifying glass. We've all got what it takes, right?

Shane K.
 
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