We decided to look into the future, to try and predict what might happen to the wonderful world of magic. A well known magician, David Blaine, believes that there will never ever be a point where technology will supersede mankind’s willingness to believe in magic.
Looking Backwards to Go Forwards
To try and look into the future of magic, it helps if we start by looking at the past, after all, they do say that history repeats itself. If we were able to perform the first known card trick to ever be recorded to you right now, it would probably still fool you, just as it fooled the Italians in 1478. You might be thinking you wouldn’t fool for the oldest trick in the book, literally, but many of the techniques that were used back in 1478 are still used by the top magicians today. All magicians have a long and secret history of preserving their best methods. But just being able to master the method of the trick isn’t enough to become a top magician, in fact that is often regarded as the easy part. The some what more challenging part is mastering the rather unpredictable audience.
Take Harry Houdini, for example. A century ago, onlookers were gripped by the sight of a man in a straightjacket hanging from a skyscraper. The audience were so interested because it was new, no one had seen anything like it before and Harry Houdini soon became a household name, a name that would become synonymous with achieving the impossible. It was an innovative performance that had absolutely nothing to do with the advances of technology. Instead, Harry Houdini was able to engage his audience emotionally, he was playing with their hopes and fears, which is why his act was so successful.
Magic is a form of applied psychology. The psychological basis of performance magic has been used much as it is today for thousands of years.
The fact of the matter is that magic is easily accessible to everyone who wants to perform it. It is not expensive to get into and there is no fixed location for it. Not so long ago there was a programme on television which was looking at the way tribes in South America lived. One tribe, who lived in the Venezuelan rain forest and had done for the past 5,000 years revealed that magic was a part of their everyday life and as children they were taught how to perform sleight-of-hand magic. The tribe would allegedly use the magic to make their audience believe that seemingly impossible difficulties could be overcome.
Emotion and Psychology With A Sprinkle of Science
Along with emotion and psychology, science is also among a magicians arsenal, sometimes magicians will even use technology well before the general public become aware of it. A German priest from the 17th century is thought to have been the first to publish the notion of the magic lantern. This device could create spectres which looked like pure magic to the audience. It was in fact used as a secret device for centuries before descending down to the everyday world with a grand new name, the slide projector.
Another innovator of magic was the man who Houdini actually got his name from, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin. In 1856 he used the scarcely known phenomenon of electromagnetism to help stop a rebellion against colonial France in Algeria. He outdid a number of local religious leaders by showing that, seemingly through will-power, he was able to make even the strongest man unable to lift a small iron box that a child was able to pick up.
Technology, Hinder or Help?
Unfortunately, times have changed and these days technology is often the undoing of many magicians. It is sad to think that we now have magicians who are scared that YouTube exposers will kill their craft. On top of this the secrecy of magic is definitely under attack. These days you are able to search on the internet “How to magicians cut someone in half” and you have a range of results all revealing what used to be a top secret magic trick. Does this mean that in ten years time, the tricks we currently see as unexplainable will be revealed?
Having said that, will these illusion-destroying spoilers really matter in the future? At the end of the say, the ongoing challenge for all magicians is to keep reinventing the art. It is this challenge that makes the future of magic so exciting.
The Pressure is On
So magicians are under pressure to keep the world of magic forever changing, but it isn’t the first time the magic society has been under this kind of pressure. Back in 1872 an Englishman named Angelo Lewis, posing under the fictitious of Professor Hoffmann, began revealing secrets of magic for the public in a boys’ magazine and then a book, “Modern Magic”. Magicians feared for their industry and for their future, as audience members would discover all their secrets which made their tricks a success.
The good news is that the book failed to kill magic, which is why we are still blessed with it to this day. The book in fact had an adverse effect on the world of magic as it became one of the most important boosters, by inspiring children to take an interest and even encouraging some of them to become magicians. Magic went on to enjoy a golden period and with Harry Houdini at the helm of it all, magic became more popular than ever before
One of the most powerful things about magic is that where the trap door is, isn’t the most important thing, you know that it is there somewhere and thats not the secret. The secret is in fact the way magicians influence what you think by using your own preconceived ideas of the world around you to amaze you. Magicians are able to recognise that you will think your own experience while watching magic is truly unique to you, but science tells us that in general, everyone thinks in a similar way. Even as it gets much more difficult to have a technological edge applying this psychological edge allows magicians to have almost limitless possibilities.
And yes whilst there are spoilers on the internet in this day and age, much of the secret innovation behind magic will never be seen on YouTube. It comes from endless hours of trial and error in an effort to understand the audience.
The bottom line is that in the future, details will changes and methods will improve, but we know that the card tricks that once amazed Leonardo da Vinci will still amaze you. In this respect, the art of magic may carry a wider lesson for our technology-dependant age. As in many professions in 2016 and even beyond it is the primitive skill of understanding how people are, how they think, their perceptions and relationships that will increasingly matter.
Get in Touch
Are you looking to hire a magician for your event in the area of London? If so, get in touch with Oliver today.
Oliver B has performed at a range of events all around the world. In the last few years Oliver’s reputation has soared in the world of magic and this has led him to becoming the most sought after magician in London. Oliver has a range of services including being a Corporate Magician, a Wedding Magician and even a Party Magician.