Why Do We Sign Things?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by William Draven, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. I've recently had the privilege of reading one of Dee Christopher's (one of our Mods here) work called Belief. It's a PDF download on the subject of mentalism and contains some interesting essays on the subject of mind reading. While this isn't a review of the material, that will come in time, this is to discuss an interesting point Dee makes in his book. Why have audience members sign things?

    Taken out of context this loses a lot of the value Dee had put into it. Of course Dee was discussing the pros and cons of signing a coin during a mentalism routine in order to prove that the coin is legit, and not switched out. Actually the point of signing anything is to prove that the object isn't just switched out of a duplicate in order to accomplish the miracle, but Dee goes on to further say that you NEVER see anyone borrow a spoon, and have it signed before being bent. So why sign a coin?

    For that matter why sign anything? Is the act of signing something really add THAT much value to the effect, or is it or less subtle eye candy for the magicians to signify that there is no dutch involved?
  2. To be honest, I never really have the spectators sign anything unless it is a signature effect like Anniversary Waltz or an effect where you are making their signature disappear and reappear somewhere else.

    Most spectators probably don't care if they get to sign something unless you are letting them keep it afterwards like a TNR to verify that it was in fact the same card.
  3. Signing creates a connection between the spectators and the object. But it should be used properly. Theres little reason in taking a coin signing it, pow it's bent, and hand it back. Personally i have spectators sign only in longer routines. Also don't just have them put their initials or signature, why not have them draw a picture or loved one's name. As long as the signing adds meaning to the effect it's fine, but if it doesn't add anything to the effect why do it?
  4. I ask them to sign things if possible only because as steven23234 said, it creates a connection between the spectator and the object. It takes away a possible pathway the spectator might be lead into.
    Wayne Houchin's Sinful is a great example. I pretty much always have it signed(if possible) because a lot of the times I will hear them talk to their friend about the effect and their friend will be like, "Hmmm, well I'm guessing there was a coin already inside of the can." And the spectator will say, "No! I had signed the coin! It was the same quarter! There was no way he could have switched it out."

    It's a cool feeling when you know they can't be lead down that path. But as said before, it does need to be used properly. Overdo it with unnecessary objects and it will look odd.
  5. Two things I've heard about signatures that stand out for me are by Justin Miller and Wayne Houchin.

    Miller says that the reason for signing something is to make it the only one like it in that area at that time. If you borrow a ring from somebody, you don't need a marking because that is their ring, that is the signature, themselves. If you borrow a quarter, well there are quarters everywhere, in pockets and on the ground, so you might want it signed to show that it is their quarter all the way through. He discusses this in the WH transpo video on his website. For cards, I have them sign it so it means something, like in Anniversary Waltz, their signatures coming together creates another level of impact on top of the cards coming together.

    Houchin, at the end of Counterfeit Hollingworth, makes a comment on having the card signed. He says it's not a big deal, and don't focus on little details only magicians care about.

    If you are doing spoon bending on the street, you don't need it signed because spoons are not that common on the street (going back to Justin's point.) If you are in a restaurant where they are easily accessible, then yes maybe you should have it marked.
    It all comes down to personal preference in the end.
  6. I think there's a difference between having a card signed before manipulating and having a metal object signed before bending it. To my mind it comes down to a definition of the effect. In an ACR, the effect can be stated as "the magician makes a selected card rise to the top of the deck". As "selected card" is part of the definition, it's important to prove that it is indeed the selected card. In a metal bending effect, the definition is "the magician causes a metal object to bend without applying physical force". In that effect, it's just "a metal object", not "a selected metal object". In the mind of the spectator, it doesn't matter which spoon or coin you bend. If the bend is performed convincingly, it adds nothing to the overall effect to "prove" that it was a borrowed object, the impossible has been achieved anyway.
  7. #7 Mat La Vore, Jan 30, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2012
    It depends on the effect. Having a spoon signed is nonsensical because there isn't a common suspicion of the method for the spoon bending being attributed to a switch. With certain effects a switch or duplicate is the suspected method. So you want to cancel that. This seems to me a common sense solution to the problem of canceling out spectator's suspicions when you know they're going to occur.

    Two examples: Sinful without the coin signed loses a lot because there's no verification that the coin is the same, and for this effect that's an important piece as the coin goes out of sight then reappears somewhere impossible. Having the coin signed verifies the claim you're making--that the coin you were holding is now the same coin in the can. Same with ACR--the common sense solution is that multiple cards are being used, so that needs to be cancelled with a signature. Also, I did coin bends for years using a switch and they worked well. I tried to convince myself the coin didn't need to be signed. But alas, people would still often wondered if it was the same coin. Even though they didn't see anything to give the method away, when their minds raced for an answer that was the most logical solution. So a few years ago I switched to a method where the coin is signed. The difference took the effect to another level. They really have nowhere to go now. It sealed the mystery.

    In short--if the common solution that spectators are coming to is a switch or a duplicate (in reference to whatever mystery you are presenting), try to use a method whereby the object can be verified in some way (signature, serial number, personal item, etc.). If a switch or duplicate isn't suspected because of the nature of the effect, don't bother running because you're not being chased.
  8. Well..I would only add something since some others ideas I had are already in this thread...

    With a spoon or fork is simple...sometimes is your fork and sometimes are their fork... because when you are out there performing and you like to do fork bending, you have to carry the spoons, since it´s unlikely somebody has a fork in their pockets... also when somebody examines the spoon, it´s very easy to tell if they are real or gimmicked...everybody is familiar with forks and spoons that a gimmicked one would feel diferent..

    In the other case, when someboyd hands you a fork to perform..it´s virtually impossible to switch...because that stuff is way too personal and there are many, many types of forks or spoons... so it would be absurd to think that you could switch it... so obviously it´s no sense to sign it
  9. Simple. It makes it personal. Signing their name, drawing a picture on a card, etc. all those things add to the effect because it makes it personal. I signed their card when the trick is done and people keep it in their wallets, purses, waitresses and waiters keep it in their book, people put it on their cubes at work...its got everything to do with what we always attempt to talk about here: how to make your magic better.

    In our efforts to get the next best deck of cards or the best "move", we quickly forget magic its a performance art that involves people before anything else. It's the same reason why people hold onto an old tshirt they got at a concert or an old napkin signed by a celebrity. If it reminds them of a memorable event, they'll want to keep it.

    Every single time we do a trick it should be a memorable event...or at least we should make that a goal even if we can't hit it every time. Otherwise all the new tricks, dvds, and custom cards won't make much of a difference to how people perceive you as a magician.
  10. Have something signed only when it strengthens the effect - when something like a duplicate card, or a switched out coin is a plausible solution, the signature works against that.

    The act of signing the object slows the performance down, so I would do it only when the strength it adds to the effect will overcome the down time of signing.
  11. ^ what Mat said.
    Plus, I have seen a spoon being signed by the spectator before bending, and I've seen it live. Truly no need for that, since the spoon from the table has been used anyways, but it has been done before lol.
    Also, I have them sign the card in Twilight Angels, which also removes the possibility of card being switched.
    One more reason why I have them sign the card is, just like b_08 said, so I can sign it too at the end, and put a date on it, and it makes for a great souvenir. Plus, more often then not, I also put my whole name down, so they can add me on facebook, thus keeping in touch with them as possible clients.
  12. To show there is only one of that card in the deck during an acr routine.
    I don't see the point in having things signed in any other trick that the writing isnt directly involved.
  13. I have a 3 phase acr..in the first phase its not signed, it IS signed in the 2nd phase because that adds to the impossibility of what they are seeing, so when the 3rd phase happens...in their hands totally hands off, its now a piece of magic!

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