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StevePR104

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From 2014:

"Magicians can be very peculiar, yet are often compared with other professionals like actors, musicians, or stand-up comedians. Some of the same characteristics can be found in these professions, but there is no other profession where it is essential to preserve trade secrets. Pursuit of magical performance consists of ingeniously integrated magic tricks that together create an impressive and sometimes astonishing show. Once the tricks are learned, they provide a flexible basis for creating situationally adequate and contextually varying performances that are adapted to specific features of the audience in question. Each trick may be seen as a routine activity sequence that can be triggered with appropriate situational cues, hints, and deliberation."

 
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pdf Expertise among professional magicians_ an interview study.pdf (772.14 KB, 19 views)

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RayJ

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If nothing else it is nice to see that someone believed this subject of enough interest to do a research paper.  #encouraging
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for sharing this, Steve. It's from 2014, but still relevant and interesting. It's written in the language of academia, but still accessible, and relies on interviews with professional magicians. It is well worth a full read. Here are a few scattered paragraphs that stood out to me. 

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A further problem in studying magical expertise is that conjuring involves a wide variety of skills. For example, a magician must have a wide range of psychological skills, such as the ability to use external cues and signs (e.g., reactions, applause, verbal feedback) to infer about the audience's mental state (e.g., experience of the effect, whether they detected the method). Similarly, the magicians must be able to use psychological techniques to effectively misdirect the audience, and thus prevent the audience from noticing the method used to create the effect. Many of these misdirection techniques have been documented and described (e.g., Kuhn et al., 2014), and effective deception requires a solid understanding of these psychological principles. Other skills involve motor skills (e.g., sleight of hand), technical insights (e.g., abstract knowledge of magic techniques), as well as performance specific techniques (e.g., comedy, dance)


Magic emerges from an impossible or unexplainable phenomenon which creates a conflict between what the audience thinks is possible and the event they have just been observed (Parris et al., 2009). The spectator tries to solve the puzzle but a skillfully constructed magic routine does not allow the audience to rationally explain what they have observed and experienced. He or she cannot solve the riddle. The magician relies on misdirection, forcing, or illusion techniques depending on the methods of the trick and the desired effects.

The interviewees highlighted the importance of the magician's personality and charisma. Many magicians are considered as having “magnetic” personalities that impress people around them, making their extraordinary and supernatural—magical—achievements appear plausible. They are also likely to have strong communicative competencies needed to persuade people to believe, at least partially, that something truly magical is occurring in front of their eyes. One of the respondents believes that personality and charisma are the most important factors in the work of a professional magician: “Everything else you can get through practise, but if you haven't got the personality, then it is just a waste of time. In addition, there is also: ambition, determination and courage to throw yourself into it.”

The audience expects to see and experience an exceptional performance. The magicians reported often being aware of the audience's expectations of them. A magician has his or her own expectations about the emerging performance and is scripting and planning the performance accordingly. There could, however, be unforeseen obstacles related to the audience and the performance stage; this highlights the importance of a professional magician's experience and improvisational capability. A magician has procedures, tools, and practices but needs to be able to modify the performance according to situational requirements. One participant reported, “You should have a good feeling about being on the stage. You are there and the audience is watching you. You don't necessarily do anything, but you know that the thing just runs nicely. You don't do just anything. The audience is looking at you and nobody gets bored. That is the greatest wonder you can ever do.” (M15)

A magic trick must be deliberately practiced until reaching a level where the technical performance hardly requires any physical or mental energy. The magician's performance differs from other performances in that the audience knows that the performer is trying to deceive them and deliberately lead them astray. A magician is not a true magician if his or her performance does not include any magical effects. The effect experienced by the spectator is the climax of any performance. The magician builds the trick by persuading the audience to see, hear, and think a certain way without understanding the method behind the trick. One respondent states: “I am a conductor and the audience is my orchestra.” (M15) The magic is born from a concept created by the magician that spectators try to interpret based on their own personal experiences. The spectators try to solve a riddle, but a cleverly built show does not allow them to rationally understand what they see: “Effect is the impact the performance has on the audience and includes not only the magical effect itself (e.g., disappearance, transformation, penetration, levitation, etc.), but also the emotional and post-performance impact on the audience.” (Landman, 2013)
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krolik

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Reply with quote  #4 
First of all, it's nice to see magicians get some respect and taken seriously. That's overdue.

But I wonder if the distinction about "trade secrets" is overstated. For so many tricks, a quick trip to Youtube will give you a basic explanation. Other effects might be more recondite or have a longer shelf life, so to speak, but nothing remains a secret for very long.

Once a trick is out there, it's like a guitar lick, that will quickly be figured out and copied.

The art is in how well it's performed.

In that sense magic is really not so different.

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by krolik
First of all, it's nice to see magicians get some respect and taken seriously. That's overdue.

But I wonder if the distinction about "trade secrets" is overstated. For so many tricks, a quick trip to Youtube will give you a basic explanation. Other effects might be more recondite or have a longer shelf life, so to speak, but nothing remains a secret for very long.

Once a trick is out there, it's like a guitar lick, that will quickly be figured out and copied.

The art is in how well it's performed.

In that sense magic is really not so different.



Krolik, in my opinion trade secrets are still protected by most "serious" magicians. The exposes on YouTube consist mainly of videos from folks that in 10 years will be onto something else. There are notable exceptions including Jay Sankey, Alex Pandrea and others, but they are few in number.
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krolik

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ray,

I'm sure you know more about this than I do! I am very much an amateur. But it does seem that on this site, for instance, people are very generous about sharing secrets and tips. Which I appreciate...
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by krolik
Ray,

I'm sure you know more about this than I do! I am very much an amateur. But it does seem that on this site, for instance, people are very generous about sharing secrets and tips. Which I appreciate...


And this is a better place to do that as compared to places like youtube. If you do give up the goods at least pick your spots. We've all tried to foster a community atmosphere here. There are ups and downs like any community but so long as the desire is there it can work.
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