Monday, 4 February 2013

"I never guess. It is a shocking habit — destructive to the logical faculty"

I'm fascinated by Indian street magicians. I have studied many videos of those guys doing magic. Mainly the Cups and Balls. They are all pretty good. Then I stumbled upon the following video, where the guy is speaking English:

It's a horrific magic act. The timing is way off, the magic moments are reduced to a mere challenge. It is repetitive as hell and there is no climax but the reveal of the main principle of being one ahead.

But here is what I like about it: The fact that the timing is way off, that the magic moments are reduced to a mere challenge. The repetitive nature and the actual reveal of the method.

And here is why! His timing is purposefully designed to create suspense. He fumbles around in his bag to get people interested in what he is doing. This gathers crowds. You gotta understand that he is not doing a magic show, but demonstrating sleight of hand. He tells the audience to "catch" him. Try that when doing the cups and balls. (I did, by showing one of the final loads and telling the audience that I will try to sneak the big ball under the cups near the end of the trick. That nicely foreshadows the final loads) Then he does this feint in the beginning and the audience catches him doing it right away, falling into his trap. That means that his audience is very, very bright and up for a challenge. To enter such a challenge and to get away with it... is not, as many magicians want to make you believe, making the audience look stupid. They like that. They want to get fooled... under the scrutiny of their own awareness. That is why the repetitive nature of the effect is actually an advantage instead of a drawback. This performer is so damn good, that he can not only live up to the challenge, no he can get away with spoiling the method, disguising it as an extra effect (the production of a fifth ball). That takes balls. Major props to this performer.

The audience kind of has to exclude sleight of hand, because they are convinced that they have been watching very carefully. The usual excuse of "He misdirected me!" doesn't apply here. And what else could it be if not tricky business? Quoting Sherlock Holmes not only as the post title:

"Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
So I guess it's magic then.


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