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Mike Powers

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With all the extra time on my hands, I dug into the archives. Here's Photo Surrealism from Top Secret Stuff (1990)



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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #2 
Nice, Mike!  Like the story-line.
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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #3 
Wow. That was nice magic .
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hate to plant the thought I wanted to avoid, but I wonder if a trick like this would immediately be thought of as an allegory about the virus and therefore be repugnant. The patter could certainly go in that direction. Then, as Pop pointed out, it wouldn't be art any longer. It would be magic in the service of a message. 

Many magical effects can be "hijacked" into that realm. Color changing decks could be seen as viruses spreading etc. Let's hope that doesn't happen and that a magic effect can just be seen as magic.

BTW - the surprise of the 8H all turning into KS can be replaced with a color changing backs on the 8H. Then, instead of Through the Fist, you can just turn over the packet and show that the backs have become blue or multicolor. 

There are only 5 cards in play but with one more, you can get better displays and end with four examinable cards by palming out 2. But 6 as 4 is tougher. 5 as 4 works really well.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #5 
Cool routine, Mike! Thanks for sharing. The story line is perfect. Don't fret over the allegorical association. I daresay either of us could come up with topical, virus-related patter for practically any trick worth performing.

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #6 
That's great magic, Mike. 

Humans are allegory generators - it's part of the pattern-recognition skills that underlie most of what we call intelligence (and also most of we can call "foolability", which we as magicians rely on so heavily).  Many people are unable to read Lord of the Rings without interpreting it as a huge allegory - yet Tolkien repeatedly stated that he detested allegory and never intended the book to be read that way.

Anthony is right that many magic effects are flexible enough that an allegorical interpretation about viruses can be grafted onto them.  I agree with you that doing that deliberately would be inappropriate.  I guess the question becomes: How likely is it that the person for whom you perform this effect will spontaneously think "Oh, this is like the virus spreading from one person to other people"?  If the probability is high, then potentially a lot of people are going to see the effect as being depressing at best or even exploitative at worst.

In The Sound of Music, Captain von Trapp is compelled to sing a song at a concert.  He chooses the song Edelweiss, a tribute to a flower.  The song itself makes no reference to anything political, and yet everyone in the concert audience - and the audience watching the movie - interprets it as his way of protesting the take-over of his country.  At that moment it no longer matters what his intention was (in the story, that was exactly what he intended) - what matters is what the audience perceived.

So maybe it is worthwhile creating a presentation for Photo Surrealism that derails this train of thought and steers people's thoughts away from current events.  You refer to the cards once or twice as clones.  That's good - it catches the imagination and it's a bit futuristic.  You could go further and reference Star Trek replicators.  Or celebrity wanna-bees.

Or maybe it's a non-issue.  I don't know if most people would spontaneously think that this effect was an allegory for virus transmission.  Maybe most people would just think "Wow, that was cool" and think no further about it.  If that's true then the most you need to do is not explicitly say anything about viruses.

Robin


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Wayne T

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks for show that trick Mike. [smile]

I seem to remember a BBM release where the magi (Owen?) is presenting a trick in a hazmat suit. 

While not directly related I remember comedian Gilbert Gottfried being assailed for making a 911 joke "too soon" after the event and then I remember George Carlin doing one of his specials where at some point he takes the "screw them" approach and says something along the lines of "they" (making stereotypic references to the terrorists) are not going to change us.

Perhaps it had more to do with who they were or how they delivered the message?

Would it be the same for a trick around a tragic event? More about how it is delivered? If the climax is about defeating the virus, good beating evil, does it become more acceptable?

Just random thoughts?

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #8 
Good points Robin. You're right about it being human to find patterns and meaning virtually unconsciously. It's our nature to make sense out of what we experience.

Wayne T - I don't want to perform magic with a "message" e.g. "we can beat this virus etc" I just want people to have the experience of astonishment.

Without going into detail about Joseph Campbell's rap on "proper and improper art" I can mention that Campbell says that all advertising art is pornographic. He's not using the word "pornographic" in the sexual sense. He means that advertising is intended to create desire on the part of the viewer. In the case of advertising, the desire is the desire to buy something. In Campbell's definition of proper art, which is taken from Thomas Aquinas and James Joyce, art is static. It doesn't move the onlooker to action. It just grabs the onlooker's attention and puts him or her into a state of what Campbell calls "aesthetic arrest." It's like ego loss. There's no analysis, just pure experience.

Think of watching TV and seeing part of ballet where Rudolph Nureyev launches himself into the air in the most graceful way and then, as he is descending, his tights suddenly become Levi jeans. Art is destroyed. Or you're in the Louvre standing in front of the Mona Lisa. The painting has grabbed you with its amazing beauty. Then her mouth breaks into a smile and says, "You can buy a copy of me at the gift shop." 

There's nothing really wrong with using art (magic, music, painting, drawing, photography) to convey a message. But Campbell would say that this is improper art. Unfortunately the term "improper" has a pejorative connotation. So, one more time, there's nothing wrong or bad about using magic or art in general to sell a message. But doing so will change the experience of the viewer. You are trying to move the viewer toward a view of things rather than simply creating an experience of astonishment for the viewer. The protest songs from the 1960's were intended to do exactly that sort of thing i.e. move the listener to action. They were a valuable tool in that regard. But they ceased to be "proper" art under Campbell's definition.

OK - the can of worms is now open for business.




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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #9 
Huge Joseph Campbell fan here.

I think one of the most over-looked books in all of magic is Eugene Burger's "The Experience of Magic".  He challenges us to think about exactly what we want our audiences to experience when we perform, and then to focus all our energies on making sure that is what happens.  As Mike says, the desired effect on the audience can be the experience of an emotion or the urge to do something.  It can also be the evocation of a memory, or the realization of an insight, etc etc.  But Burger says we need to decide what we want it to be, then build our presentations to support that.
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EricS

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks for sharing, Mike. Great way to start my "lunch hour" (said as I move from the home "office" to the kitchen [smile]).
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Wayne T

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers


Wayne T - I don't want to perform magic with a "message" e.g. "we can beat this virus etc" I just want people to have the experience of astonishment.

OK - the can of worms is now open for business.

M


Mike, I completely understand your position.

Art/advertising, I must admit I don't really feel the same about a song that is special to me when I hear it used to sell laundry soap or hemorrhoid cream.

 

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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #12 
I like that a lot Mike!

Thanks for posting that

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rready

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Reply with quote  #13 
That was fun to watch, thanks Mike.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #14 
Wayne T - you really nailed it by pointing out how it hurts to hear a song that you love used to sell a product. Purple Haze used to sell Citi Visa. Ouch! 

Do people think "Subaru" when they say "I love you" since "Love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru." How F'n absurd.

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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #15 
Nice job, Mike.
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