Ruses

When it comes to false motivations, a valuable concept is that of the ruse. In Magic by Misdirection, Dariel Fitzkee defines a ruse as, a plausible, but untrue, reason, or action conveying a reason, for concealing the true purpose for doing something. In other words, the audience sees what you do. They're only misled as to why you do it. This leads them to misconstrue the importance of the action. We'll now analyze three of the most valuable categories of ruses the incidental, the accidental,...

FramiofReferenceand Kickers

Many years ago Hen Fetch created a classic coincidence effect called Smith's Myth. Two spectators mentally select cards. They then shuffle the deck and divide it in two. The performer deals cards face up simultaneously from the two piles as che spectators are instructed to call out stop when they see their cards. Miraculously, the two mentally selected cards turn up together. The secret is that, through a clever procedure, both spectators are led to think of che same card. Naturally, they will...

The Straight and Marrow Path

Some effects point directly to their methods with the vividness of a Sashing neon arrow. Indeed, the arrow image suggests the nature of the problem. The design of the effect is too linear. The method may be hidden, in the sense chat it happens under the surface, but it follows exactly the direct path the audience expects it to. Imagine a secret tunnel. You see the tunnel entrance and, some distance away, you see thc exit. Since the tunnel is underground you dun't see the passage itself. Buc by...

Ter Five Spatial Distance

Nn one of Tommy Wonders DVDs, he performs three versions of the led Watch to Nest of Boxes. If you want to do this effect, you're faced embarrassment of riches. Each version is so clever in conception J-Lnious n detail that picking one could be a challenge. Trying to ipare and evaluate all the intricate aspects of their methods could easily If, however, you appreciate the importance of proximity, the compari-becomes easier. The first version, as clever as it is, requires the per-frmer to be...

Introduction

Craft is the sum total of all means used to draw the audience into deep involvement, to hold that involvement, and ultimately to reward it with a moving and meaningful experience. My friend Pat Cook is a playwright, songwriter, musician, former actor, and amateur magician. This means that he has spent time around many different kinds of creative people. He once mentioned to me that, of all these groups, magicians are the only ones who constantly prattle on about art. According to Pat, other...

Producto J Distant Duplicate

In The Stanley Collins Aces, the performer places three cards on cach There is nD doubt that there really is an ace on the bottom of each pile. He'thcn changes each ace into an indifferent card. He returns the sixteen ards to the dcck. He now deals out poker hands, one of which contains he aces Or he spells to the aces or otherwise produces them from the 'a iese endlngs all have dramatic problems. The ace productions are long and procedure-heavy at just the point when you need a quick, snappy...

Physical Barriers

A physical barrier is just what the name implies. The spectato suspects that you took the path you did because he can see rhatTl some physical object blocking the way. ' crc is In The Card Secrets of Brother John Haraman, Brother Ha has a bold method of producing a selected card from the pocket. Heap13 endy deals the selection off the deck but actually retains it on top, off an indifferent card instead. He then places the deck in his pocket. Af8 vanishing the selection, he merely reaches in his...

Backward Time Displacement

Berras insightful observation not withstanding, one of the subtlest ptoy, m magic is to convince the audience that it's over before its over. In forward tunc displacement you alter the audience s perception of when the ZZn H y- alter their per- hapZi r ' imCrVa' You ke < he effect appeal happen earlier than it really did. the Ztl'lt Kkr d time < ' cment comes from exploiting most fundamental belief about causality cause precedes effect. With e displacement...

The Magician Mentality

Ironically, magicians tend to admire the opposite approach. They often shower the greatest praise on the version with the most cluttered critical interval. There are at least two reasons for this. First, often a lousy method will fool magicians better than a good method because magicians already know the good method. For example, the classic approach to the ace assembly plot is to switch out the aces at the beginning. When the aces now start traveling to the leader packet, people are astonished...

The Final False Solution

We've seen that falsely framing an effect, not only leads people to ask the wrong question, but also causes them to accept the effect's major false premise as a given in formulating that question. Another great tool for getting the audience to unwittingly embrace the false premise can be found in Juan Tamariz's wonderful book The Magic Way. He introduces a concept he labels the final false solution a solution that will later turn out to be false. But it must appear possible for a few seconds...

The Critical Interval

What is the most dangerous moment in any effect in which to perform trickery Most magicians would probably answer, When the audience is watching most closely. This answer, however, only raises the question when is the audience going to be watching most closely To answer that question, we have to return to Ascanio's definition of a magic effect. You'll recall that it is the difference between the initial condition and the final condition. If you're going to change an apple into an orange,...

Chapter Four Temporal Distance

The audience doesn't see the coin, the rabbit, or the girl vanish because they ctually disappear either before or after the magician pretends to conjure them 'into thin dir. The audience is watching most carefully at the wrong ti ne. The Great Merlini, Off the Face of the Earth by Clayton Rawson The fundamental tension in creating strong magic effects is the strug- e between proximity and distance. The method, because it must obey the laws of nature, requires proximity. Hie effect, because it...

The Design Bonus

If we do succeed in achieving the formidable task of eliminating causal cues, it will pay huge dividends. Not least of which is that it largely solves one of the most intractable problems in magic how to get the audiencc to stop analyzing and just enjoy the show. Magicians talk about getting the audience to like you and taking a non-confrontational approach. These are valuable ideas. Ultimately, however, there is only one sure-fire way to get an audience to stop searching for explanations....

Deception vs Illusion

1 may be the master of illusion, but it turns out that you're the master of deception. n feet, When a layperson describes a mag.c performance that ulariy impressed him, he almost never uses the word fooled. He'll S y Z like Thar guy was ama.ing. The rhmgs he did were impossib Thave no idea how he got my card mto his wallet. You won't hear the word fooled, however, because the layperson didn t expenence being fQoled He only experienced seeing something imposible.

Puzzle vs Miracle

Magicians often talk about the difference between a puzzle and a mag. ic effect. The clich is that the difference lies in an entertaining presentation. In fact, a puzzle entertainingly presented is still only an entertaining puzzle. The real difference is that a puzzle merely deceives, while magic creates the illusion of impossibility. This point was beautifully expressed by Simon Aronson's observation that, There is a world of difference between a spectator not knowing how something's done...

Chapter Three Causality

For that ontlie is woonderfull to the beholder, whereof he can conceive no cause , To create the illusion of impossibility we must first understand how the mind concludes that something is impossible. This raises what may be the single most important question in magic. Amazingly, it's one I've never heard a magician ask. What leads a spectator to conclude that something is impossible Hie question matters because, ultimately, effect design is about how laypeople think. How laypeople think is the...

By Whit Haydn

This detail, I believe, makes the trick appear more impossible the main goal of our art , If the magic isn't baffling, it isn't magic. Designing Miracles. That is what wc try to do whenever we create, adapt, or fix a magic effect. Just as there are certain artistic principles that underlie the arts of music or painting, there are elements of design that apply to magic as well. Knowing these principles, and understanding them, is what enables us to improve our art. Here we have an outstanding...

Making ausal Connections

It is the condition of all experience. m amp TT who pioncercd the lt e mental f,nfanrs and -voun children, has concluded that the search 36 1 Chapter 3 Causality for causal connections is one of the perceptual patterns that automatically evolve as a child's mind develops. Its not learned. It's not culture-based. The drive to organize experience in terms of cause and effect is built into the human brain. Causality is how humans make sense of reality. We magicians...

The Too Obvious Theory

1,1 issue 5-6, pp.247-50, of the Hierophant. Rick Johnsson published an essay entitled The foo Perfect' Theory. Tommy Wonder wrote that, This theory has been rather widely accepted. He may be right, but that's not my impression. Almost every time I've seen someone bring up the Too Perfect Theory it's been only to attack it. Let me begin by stressing that I don't entirely agree with the Too Perfect Theory. Yet, I think the essay raises some important points. Admittedly, Johnsson's reasoning is...