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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #1 
If you were fortunate enough to witness the recent ShareMagic Live presentation from Vanishing, Inc. you got to see some great magic and stimulating commentary.

One thing in particular I was struck by was the seeming contrast in style as presented by Dani DaOrtiz and Jeff McBride.  

DaOrtiz was up first and during his discussion, he indicated a few things that give insight into his philosophy of magic.  He talked about emotions a lot.  He says the audience has expectations but the most important thing is to make them feel emotion.  He went on to identify three types or stages of memory.  He called them Rational, Sensitive and Emotional.  As he listed them, he pointed to his head, his heart and his gut.

The Rational, he said was in the mind.  The person says to themselves "I tried to see what the magician was doing, but I see nothing".

The Sensitive is the feeling of "I'm lucky to be here with my family or friends experiencing magic, this is fun".

Finally, the Emotional.  This most important (to him) memory is where the spectator says "No way!  That is impossible!"  It is this last memory that DaOrtiz says is paramount.

He went on to say that he's heard about spectators who claim they don't want to know how tricks are done.  He isn't buying it.  He thinks it is basic human nature to want to know how something is accomplished.

So a few hours later, Jeff McBride performed and seemed to offer up a different perspective.  Or at least a different type of presentation.  He showed a trick where he specifically tells the audience to "Relax and enjoy the magic.  You don't need to have the answers all of the time."  Later, in a routine, he says "I'm not trying to fool you, just relax and enjoy the mystery".

So is there really a contradiction here?  Is DaOrtiz merely interested in fooling people, maybe even to the point of sacrificing other aspects of entertainment?  Is McBride just looking to perform "pretty magic" regardless of how deeply fooling it is, or isn't?

Does thinking about the two performer's statements cause you to evaluate your own style?  If so, what way do you lean?  And could you benefit from adopting some of either approach?


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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Ray, 

Thanks for the post. I have this in my Vanishing Inc library, but haven't made time to watch it yet. I'm a fan of Dani's work and find myself agreeing with much a his philosophy abut magic. I just purchased his "Here & Now" set over the weekend. 

I'll keep your observations in mind when I watch it and will come back here to share my thoughts.

Have a great day!

Rudy

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #3 
A contradiction? Well, no. Disparate philosophies, perhaps, but also different styles, perspectives, backgrounds, etc, so their differing philosophies aren't surprising. McBride is a fantasist. He's into the spiritual and metaphysical and such. DaOrtiz strikes me as more of a realist; he seeks to understand the human psychology and neurology that drives the perception of magic, and then uses it to his advantage as a magical entertainer. As a scientific skeptic, I tend to come down on the same side, and so am drawn more toward DaOrtiz than McBride, but respect both of them. Both have their places. As do we all. 

I also agree with DaOrtiz: People want to know. Even when they don't say so. Human nature is driven by an insatiable curiosity to know the unknown, to explain the inexplicable, and to find answers even when there are none to be found.  

I highly recommend Dr. Gustav Kuhn's recent book on the subject of misdirection and the psychology behind magic, as well as Richard Wiseman's body of work. 

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #4 

There’s an old saying that people may not always remember what you said or what you did, but they do remember how you made them feel.  So, when designing new routines, I always try to incorporate what would affect them emotionally.  

As regards lay people wanting to know "how it's done", I can only speak for myself.  Since I never pictured myself ever performing large illusions, I made it a point to avoid knowing how they are done.  Not knowing the secret makes watching those types of performances more magical.



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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #5 
I think DDO's philosophy is very much in line with things that Juan Tamariz and Michael Close have said: the audience should not be put in the position of thinking "I don't know how that happened", but rather they should be thinking "what just happened is impossible".   Tamariz (and I think DDO) believes that this works best through giving the audience time to mentally consider plausible explanations and then reject each of them.

It seems to me that this desired experience is similar to the form of enlightenment that is the goal of a Zen Koan: a riddle that has no rational solution, meditating upon which allows the meditator to break free of self-imposed mental limitations.

I don't know enough about JM's philosophy of magic to comment on it but I get the impression that for him, magic carries a message.  This would explain the comment about "not trying to fool you, just relax and enjoy the mystery"  - the mystery he refers to is the (possibly unverbalized) message conveyed by the magic, which remains meaningful even if the audience is not fooled.

Whereas, I think DDO feels that magic is the message.  This also seems consistent with some of the things "Pop" Haydn has posted here.

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Anthony,

Funny you should mention G Kuhn. I'm about an hour away from finishing the book. Great stuff!


Mike
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


He [DaOrtiz] went on to say that he's heard about spectators who claim they don't want to know how tricks are done.  He isn't buying it.  He thinks it is basic human nature to want to know how something is accomplished.


I've gotta believe there are 'some'  people who don't want to know how it's done: my wife claims to be one, although she enjoys the tricks. Mind you, it has to be a very new trick with some relatively obscure principle that she has not experienced before that catches her out. She KNOWS me, and lets me know if I've let anything show that I shouldn't have shown - very good eyes! She's my best critic.
I've enjoyed watching both these master magicians (unfortunately, not in the flesh). Probably more of Jeff McBride. I think they both have taught 'golden nuggets' that aren't really opposites; perhaps complementary. In that way, I think I've been equipped for a wider range of possible audience situations. Dan's 'head, heart and gut' analysis is helpful. Jeff also includes another ;H': "If your sleight of hand forces you to lose eye contact with the audience, it is too advanced for your skill level". Glad they're both around. As always, thanks for making me think, Ray.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #8 
There are some who don't want to know.  I posted a link to the Asi Wind performance on Fool Us where when Asi said he was going to reveal the secret a woman shook her head "no" and cupped her ears.  Some do just sit back and experience.  For her, knowing takes all the fun out of it.  She's right.  When many laypeople see how a trick is done they are sorely disappointed.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Some of you are missing the point. Yes, there are those who do not want to know this or that, or even the other thing. As a species, though, we want to know. We seek to know. We need to know. Our curiosity is bondless. Wanting to know led us to look up at the stars and create gods, goddesses, and stories to explain their existence. Both religion and science, along with philosophy and spiritualism, exist as a result of our desire to know, to understand, to control. Black swans are everywhere. You can't take too many steps without tripping over one or finding a feather or two in your tea. Exceptions to every rule. But there's no arguing that as a species, we are curious and we want to know.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Hi Anthony,

Funny you should mention G Kuhn. I'm about an hour away from finishing the book. Great stuff!


Mike


Isn't it though? Fascinating. I've read it through once, and spot-read certain chapters several times. Man, I just want to absorb this stuff. I got the Kindle version and it's highlighted and marked to a fare-the-well! 

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #11 
AV, I don't know that anyone is missing the point at all.  What I pointed out is that at least one woman, and she surely represents many, either doesn't care to know or she has willfully suppressed that intrinsic desire to know.

And what McBride is trying to do with his presentation is encourage others to do the same.  To sit back, relax and enjoy the mystery without getting bogged down in the "how".  Whether he is successful or not, who can say?  We'd need to do a poll.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #12 
I think what Anthony's saying is that it's our nature to try to make sense out of what we experience. It's automatic. This isn't incompatible with the idea that some people don't want to know the secret. Their brain, just like the rest of us, goes through a process of making sense of the trick. The experience of magic happens when the brain comes up short. This is what Pop Haydn has been talking about. For those who don't want to know the secret, this is a positive experience i.e. they experience astonishment and enjoy that. They don't want to revisit the process that led to astonishment. That process is the brain trying to make sense out of what it saw and coming up short. If the brain succeeds in understanding the method, magic evaporates. And, for the person who doesn't want to know, disappointment sets in. For the person who does want to know, satisfaction sets in. But both people went through the human process of trying to make sense out of what was seen. 

M
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Let the trick speak for itself, and allow the spectators to make up their own minds and provide their own emotion and sing their own song.


Yes
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers


Yes


So there's no need for setting a tone or creating atmosphere? Musical accompaniment? Lighting and pyrotechnics? Stories and background to add context? Costumes?

Audiences can be manipulated to advantage.

In theater, audiences are encouraged to willfully suspend their disbelief. To not ask too many questions or get consumed by minutiae. Why not take this approach in magic? We're theater too.
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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


So there's no need for setting a tone or creating atmosphere? Musical accompaniment? Lighting and pyrotechnics? Stories and background to add context? Costumes?

Audiences can be manipulated to advantage.

In theater, audiences are encouraged to willfully suspend their disbelief. To not ask too many questions or get consumed by minutiae. Why not take this approach in magic? We're theater too.


I think that there is definitely a place for that when it comes to a more formal magic show (tone/creating atmosphere - Musical accompaniment - Lighting and pyrotechnics - Stories and background).

I mostly do walk around and take more of the approach that Allan is talking about. I don't often present my magic as theatrical/dramatic pieces that rely heavily on patter. Of course, I do that sometimes (or at least I try). But for the most part, it's more of a guerilla-type approach.

Could it be different based on the venue/context?

I had to really consider this when I was recently asked to perform a formal show in Portland. I didn't want to just string a bunch of tricks together without some sense of rhyme and reason. 

My first show revolved around the theme that there are a few powerful methods involved in accomplishing card magic... mathematics, memory, and misdirection. I then proceeded to perform effects that seemingly utilized those methods. 

It took lots of thought about patter/presentation/transitions that I'd never quite taken into consideration before.

Anyway, I guess my thought is that there is room, and a time for both approaches.

Rudy



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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #16 
Rudy, there definitely is a time and place for themes and your example is a good one. The theme can become the misdirection as they try to explain what they are seeing in light of the mathematics, memory and misdirection. Your effects might have zero to do with those three things but in looking for them they miss the real secrets.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #17 
"Let the trick speak for itself" doesn't preclude the value of creating atmosphere in various ways, especially in a formal show as Rudy pointed out. It doesn't mean that you have to go David Blaine style and just say "Watch.." Although the presentation of no presentation can be effective - witness the success of David Blaine's specials. 

M


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers


Yes


I agree, too. For me it's not a song, but rather a story. "What's the story?" That's the question I like to ask. What's the story and how does it touch the audience? It can a simple story, say in the context of a vanish or transposition, or something more complex, like Copperfield's Flying. (Flying, by the by, was magical storytelling done right.) Identifying the story allows me to develop whatever I'm showing into something more than a simple trick or a puzzle. If I tell a well-written story correctly, I hit the right emotions. That's magic, even with coins or cards.

With Blaine, he is the story, and everything he does is in the context of the character and his adventures.    

Av 
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson


Isn't it though? Fascinating. I've read it through once, and spot-read certain chapters several times. Man, I just want to absorb this stuff. I got the Kindle version and it's highlighted and marked to a fare-the-well! 

Av


Just started it (first item ever purchased on kindle). Agree with your impressions of it. I felt a little pang when he wrote: “And once you know how the trick is done, it will never evoke this magical sense of wonder again”. I think there will be more highlighted stuff than unhighlighted! Hmmm. Unhighlighted may be my new highlight!

Not sure how this fits into the previous comments about who wants to know, but Kuhn also wrote:
“ Indeed, a recent study conducted by magician Joshua Jay and a psychology research team led by Dr. Lisa Grimm at the College of New Jersey discovered that most people do not want to find out how a trick is done, which is why I will reveal the secrets only when necessary”.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #20 
Being able to highlight so easily is one of the reasons I prefer eBooks. Also, three colors!

M
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Reply with quote  #21 
I Agree with Dani, his part was worth the entire event 

that being said, "Theory" (in my view) is really only a persons opinion on how things should be, not a "rule" (rules don't exist) "Theory" can be a tool, not a platform, they are a person's experiences and a way "they" think, that is not for everyone, and I believe there are a majority people inside and outside of the magic context who takes Theory as the authority, and we must follow everything or nothing... and what it does is it makes people forget about "Self-theory"... you can take and borrow, come up with your own you can reject parts of someones "theory" and use other parts, use your experiences, think outside of a "magic" context, etc


also, Yes, I believe that Magic needs to be able to speak for itself, and if you want to "dress it up" you can, but I believe many times it seems as almost... apologizing for the Magic, and the "Magic" is just there to support your "story" and the majority of times you will find it forced and disconnected

it can also depend on what type of show you are doing, if you are doing a personal show, yeah the decoration, the lighting, the music, can all alter the atmosphere and increase perception... people take "visual appearance" into account, even if they pretend they don't, your appearance can create a certain perception of yourself before you even say anything (or don't say anything) and that includes stereotypes people create...but that shouldn't hide the magic, it should only increase the... Magic, not hide it or dress it up, or force an "emotion" many times performers will attempt to force an emotion and it fails, no one would really care about me talking about the Genocide of my people while doing an ambitious card routine [wink]





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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee



I'll refrain from commenting on Copperfield, other than to say he's not my cup of tea.
[smile]



Ditto that.

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee


No.


There are some famous, wildly successful magicians that would disagree.

To clarify, magic doesn't NEED accompaniment but frequently benefits from it.

There is room for both approaches, sometimes even in the same show. Blackstone used to interrupt his stage show by sitting alone, "in one" in front of the curtain with a single spotlight. Others have followed suit.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #24 
But the main thing Ray, is that my one word response was a teaser. Bait. And you walked into it. Am I a naughty boy, or what?  [smile][smile][smile][wink]


I don't view forums as games.  I don't "play".  I am very opinionated and I think that is a good thing.  I voice said opinions and I defend them.  Sometimes I even change them.

Funny thing is I really haven't taken a firm stance in this thread, contrary to some (apparent) opinions.  I have merely questioned.

It seems that many are in the DaOrtiz camp and some are in the McBride camp.  Personally, I firmly reside in both camps.  I don't find a contradiction at all.  Both have merit and as I (hopefully) showed, guys like Blackstone Sr. and Jr. actually, were able to put both to good use.  Same for Henning, same for Copperfield.  

So on it goes.  

I've been criticized for being somewhat "strident" and that I look for trouble.  Not so.  It sometimes finds me though.  

So you poked and I responded.  I guess the joke's on me.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #25 
Your humor, Al, is appreciated by too few and misunderstood by too many. But you knew that. Verbal repartee, that is discourse using wit and wordplay, is an increasingly lost art. Either one groks it or one does not. (How's that for a Heinlein maneuver?)

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #26 
I'm a fan of wordplay, verbal volleyball or whatever you want to call it.  I also appreciate humor.  Particularly dry humor.  And in general, I do think things can be a bit dry around here.  My Hiney 500 thread got no response.  I thought it was a cute, April Fool's Day post.

As far as "play", what I meant was I don't make a habit of posting things to get someone's ire or to be a provocateur.  Although I do hope sometimes that things I say provoke comments, I believe in the things I post.  If I make a statement, then it is something I believe.  

So if you gave a one word answer and admit that it was put out as bait, well, that is something that I wouldn't do and don't much appreciate.  I guess it is all in the nature of fun and to each his or her own.  
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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #27 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


So if you gave a one word answer and admit that it was put out as bait, well, that is something that I wouldn't do and don't much appreciate.  I guess it is all in the nature of fun and to each his or her own.  


Well, baiting folks is not in keeping with the spirit of this forum, so you're right to feel irked by it. 

I ask that everyone remember that the Magician's Forum is intended to be a friendly and respectful place to discuss magic. Humor is a good thing, but can also be taken wrongly. I'd rather that we air on the side of caution. Particularly if we know that what we're saying could be taken wrongly.

Rudy



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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #28 
Alan, I'm more than willing to drop this but you cannot rewrite history.

"But the main thing Ray, is that my one word response was a teaser. Bait. And you walked into it. Am I a naughty boy, or what? [smile][smile][smile][wink]"

If you're telling me your intent was benign I can accept that. But it is clear you DID try to provoke me.

And as far as AV is concerned, how about we leave him out of it. He is a moderator, that is all. Whether he is fond of your humor matters little.

Alan, I truly have no issue with you. So how about we move on?
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #29 
As it seems the thread has gone sideways, I recommend we close it.

Although there was some decent discussion, a lot of the comments were not quite hitting the mark.

I just found it interesting that the two performers seemed to espouse two diametrically opposite views.  I wonder whether a new magician hearing both approaches would be confused.  Or what if he/she only heard one or the other and took it as "gospel"?

Thanks to those that made contributions.
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