How is Magic Perceived

One of the most important questions that a magician must ponder as they build their act and develop their style is, “How will this be perceived by the audience?”

As novice performers mature into working professionals, there is a threshold that must be crossed. At some point the magician needs to think about character and how they appear, what they convey and what artistic message they are trying to communicate to the masses.

It is my opinion that the days of a the magic-man making some grandiose gesture and the sawing the lady in half are in our past. The modern audience may not understand exactly how the trick is accomplished in terms of the workings of the magic boxes and illusions, but they know it's not real. Yesterday’s magicians were able to build up the trick and sell it to their audiences. Today’s audiences have access to YouTube and other sources where they can quickly look up the secrets and have the answers.
In reality, the vast majority of those big stage illusions are based in fantasy. While they can be very entertaining when presented by skilled professionals, they are nonetheless anchored in fiction. At our core, we understand that we cannot fly or walk on water. Getting the audience to completely and willingly suspend their disbelief is a constant struggle for performers of grand illusions.

Lest you perceive me as a self-righteous cynic, allow me to continue.

They say that the best lies are rooted in truth. It is true that magic, by its nature is fantasy, sort of. If you have ever seen a truly competent performer with a deck of cards, you will understand the the seemingly impossible isn’t so difficult for some. For example' Derek Delgaudio is one of the modern masters as a card table.

Additionally, the fantastic British Mentalist, Derren Brown has redefined what is possible with hard-core psychology. His brand of magic is often rooted in super-skills in the fields of memory, hypnosis and psychology.

The goal of a good magician is to inspire wonder in the audience. I believe that the firmest causes of wonder are conjured up in reality. People naturally relate to the beauty and skill that is conveyed by a high-quality professional. The concept of Sprezzatura (when a person makes a very difficult task appear simple) resonates deeply with the human psyche. We recognize that this is more than a simple trick. It is, in fact, possible and rooted in truth. With this point, the greater debate becomes, is it still magic if it's not fantasy?

More at M@P