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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Subtle proving or direct proving (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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limhanchung
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Hello
Subtle proving is the proving of something without the magicians's intention whereas direct proving is to prove a magic effect with intention. For instance, if we fly through a window, it will only the hit audience who is looking for strings with the thought there is no strings (subtle proving) whereas direct proving is when we fly through a hoop just to prove when there is no strings.

I personally think subtle proving gives the audience what they want. The audience who wants to enjoy the presentation will only focus on the presentation while those who are looking to see how it is done will find themselves disproven.

What do you think?
CasualSoul
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I read this right when you posted it and it made me realize that it's way past my bedtime. I think it sounds like a very interesting topic for debate, but I need some sleep before I'll be able to wrap my head around the big picture on this. I'm anxious to see where this one goes.
"Open their mind by performing the impossible"
tommy
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I am sorry I don't understand the example given. I am seeing the widow frame as a kind of hoop? That proves there are no strings, just like a hoop does.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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Things like passing hoops around floating objects don't "prove" they just shift the experience from magical to "clever".

However, having a floating object pass through a window in the stageset makes the point.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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Right thanks Jon I see the Subtle difference now.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
kregg
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Both methods are tools. The reason we offer direct proof is to avert the attention way from the obvious or beef up a presentation.
Otherwise, it's like getting stopped by a red light at 3 am when there's no traffic, anywhere... why?
POOF!
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-31 08:32, kregg wrote:
Both methods are tools. The reason we offer direct proof is to avert the attention way from the obvious or beef up a presentation.
Otherwise, it's like getting stopped by a red light at 3 am when there's no traffic, anywhere... why?



Usually just an indication of "stupid is as stupid does" and offered more as comedy.

There is nothing to prove if you are using magic.
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chrisrkline
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Jonathon, you say there is nothing to prove if we are using magic. I am not so sure. It seems we do not need proof if it is only the outcome we are interested in. In Bewitched, Samantha might go to the kitchen and come back with a martini. She might have done it with a bar kit, some crushed ice, and some gin. Or she might have wiggled her nose. As long as Darren is only interested in the outcome, he does not care for the process--or the proof. Great singers are rare, but we usually are interested in only the outcome, plus singing itself is ordinary enought that we don't need proof (although Milli Vanilli might have wished that were true in all cases.)

But if magic were real it is different. First, what if magic were real, but common, then magic would not be the stage draw it is now. A person with ordinary magical powers might be a stage draw if they could present it in a rare, artistic manner, much like a great singer does today, using a basic skill most of us have.

But what if magic were real, but rare. then I think that the magician would have to prove that he was using real magic, since any bozo could use wire to levitate, even in a world where magic were real. A real magician would have to do some of the same things that stage magicians do now. He would have to prove his magic.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Magic is only about the outcome.
Audiences are not interested in whether you carry a fog of nanobots or have an extra arm, they just want entertainment.

Once started down the slope of proving audiences will find more opportunities to check and catch things which are vulnerable.

In your levitation example, why not just stop the show and let folks wave their hands around the person/object floating? Oh we can't? Then the fault lies either in our methodology or our presentation. My feeling is that it is easier to fix the presentation than the methodology.
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Dannydoyle
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Jonathan you are so right.

If the audience watches the levitation (great example by the way) and believes because of the presentation that the person is "levitating" ANY form of proof, subtle or overt, is completly unnecessary.

The point is that once you intorduce "proof" if someone was not thinking of that as a solution (and with the right presentation they are indeed not) you are actually suggesting that it COULD be done by some method other than magic. Never wise up a sucker somene once said.

It is the difference in "belief and conviction" in my mind. YOU convince someone of something. Belief is born of presentation.

It is about the journey you take them on.

Oh and why are we now using Bewitched as some sort of standard for our art? Did I miss a meeting?
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
chrisrkline
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How does this reconcile with Whit Haydn's theory that magic is a valid syllogism involving false premises? You are not required to follow his theories, but proof seems to be a part of it.

We are not better off ignoring proof, nor will the audience find greater wonder if we avoid it altogether. In fact, the audience will often look for their own "proof" if we don't guide them a little. Magicians show both hands empty before going to their pocket to pull out the signed card, not because of lack of imagination, but in order to keep the spectator from ruining the magic in their own mind by imagining what we might have done to cheat. In many signed card to pocket routines, the hand is empty when we go to the pocket that last time. Any spectator with a brain might imagine we are hiding a card in our palm at the end of the effect. A subtle show of both sides of both hands is important to solidifying the magic.

What do you think we are convincing people of? I hope it is not that we are sleight of hand wonders; nor is it that we have real powers; nor is it that we just happen to have some great, entertaining stage presence. We are convincing the spectator that we can do the impossible, and proving that it was done with no ordinary obvious methods, while at the same time making sure they don't really believe. The horns of the dilemma. I prefer a more subtle and natural proof, but it needs to be there.

I think the context of the Bewitched reference makes it clear why it was included.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-05-31 12:43, chrisrkline wrote:
How does this reconcile with Whit Haydn's theory that magic is a valid syllogism involving false premises? You are not required to follow his theories, but proof seems to be a part of it...


Not proof. An compelling argument FOR the event being magical. The distinction is crucial.

When you make a coin vanish, you usually don't follow up with a complete strip and body cavity search. Even then some wiseacre might say you made the coin out of sugar covered in glaze and swallowed it.. or frozen mercury you smeared all over the floor after the sleight.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
chrisrkline
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I agree there might be some subtle differences, but the difference between proof and argument is not much. Whit uses the concept of syllogism, which can be seen as a semi-formal proof of the conclusion.

I too, seldom allow for a full body cavity search. What I am not doing is allowing the spectator to dictate the conditions under which they will accept the premises as true. I try to make the argument such that they accept the premises as true without even thinking about what else might be. I do this well when I use well structured routines, often written by Mr. Haydn.
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Whit Haydn
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We are really talking about agreement here.

Jon is right, I think--though I believe he is only talking about one artistic choice of several possible.

One can attempt to force agreement to a premise: "See? The knife is black on both sides." The use of the paddle move enables you to "prove" this to the spectator.

But in asking for direct "agreement" to the premise, the performer may awaken the spectator's desire to confirm the proposition: "Let me see the knife."

The more artistic work is creating compelling arguments "for" the conclusion. At least this is how I understood Jon, and he can correct me if I am wrong.

For example, instead of "asking for agreement," the performer forms the question in his own head, turns the knife up as if to check for himself that the knife is black on both sides.

The performer doesn't "show" the knife to the spectator at all, but the spectator "sees" and notes that the knife is black on both sides.

Since the performer does not ask for agreement to the proposition, the spectator is in a much more receptive and less critical mode as he "makes a mental note" that the knife is black on both sides.

This is very similar to the example Jon used of "flying through a window frame."

This does the proving without the role of the performer as "prover," and without directly asking the audience for "agreement."

The audience basically is forming the argument in their own heads from the information that is being presented to them, rather than being force-fed the syllogism from the performer.

I think there are times however, when the proof can be directed at the spectator in a challenging way--especially when you are "clean." Smile
Jonathan Townsend
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Seems we are on the same path on this part of the journey.

Since I have not been on a stage-set with a window and wire rigging since a production of Peter Pan at age twelve, let's go with a more easily applied and shared example, say the pen-knife and paddle move.

One approach is to call attention to the color on both sides of the handle. This seems very strange, as most I have seen are the same color on both sides. Do I really want people to wonder if my cards and coins are also like that?

So instead, how about talking about how someone once wanted to see up your sleeves so you push up one sleeve, then transfer the knife over and push up the other sleeve. This gets you a moment of seeming openness for the audience, shows your hands empty and also shows them both sides of the knife as you transfer it from hand to hand (doing the paddle move of course)

:)

If the argument (or proof if you use the word loosely) forms IN the minds of the audience, they are less likely to argue with YOU later about it when they find themselves on the horns of the dilemma.
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Whit Haydn
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I love that last sentence:

"If the argument (or proof if you use the word loosely) forms IN the minds of the audience, they are less likely to argue with YOU later about it when they find themselves on the horns of the dilemma."

Yes. I think we are in agreement here, Jon. But I would probably want to make a case that there are other valid approaches to getting agreement, and that the direct challenge is sometimes both an artistic and necessary choice.

This is like the difference between a "hook" and a "come-on" in a con game. A hook is something discovered by the sucker on his own (the corner is bent) whereas the come-on is an offer made by the operator: "Come on! I'll let you put your foot on the matchbox you want."

The hook is always stronger and produces greater "conviction" because the con man is not entered into the equation in the "argument" that the sucker is creating in his own head.

But sometimes the sucker isn't sharp enough to see the bait. He won't go for the hook on his own. Sometimes there are audiences too dim, or propositions too subtle, for the hook to work. In those situations, the come-on or challenge is better.

One can also "piggy back" agreement to one thing on the backs of another "I only pay on the red, not on the blacks"(these two are both black).

It is possible to "slur" the moment of agreement from the beginning of one condition to the arrival at another, as in "calling the card face down."
chrisrkline
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This is another place where we need to be clear on the terms we use and their meaning. I was using proof to convey the idea of gaining the spectator's acceptance of the whole syllogism. I think Jon, you were concerned about the drawback of our pushing too hard to "prove" the truth of each premise. I am no expert, and tend to use classic and well thought out routines. I think spectators expect and are OK with us periodically doing more overt proofs. Maybe it is their expecting certain iconic acts, such as rolling up the sleeves, showing both hands empty, the levitation through the rings, etc. I like it more subtle, but sometimes it is fun to be more tongue in cheek with the act.
Chris
Jaz
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How can you subtly provide prove with illusions like 'Sawing A Person In Half' or 'Zig Zag'?
How about the 'Egg Bag'?
Some effects simply require direct proof?

There's a time to be subtle and a time to be direct.
As said, they are tools.
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2006-05-31 12:23, Dannydoyle wrote:


It is the difference in "belief and conviction" in my mind. YOU convince someone of something. Belief is born of presentation.




This is half true. It is possible for someone to convince themselves, and that is stronger than belief. Believing in something is usually faith-based. Conviction draws a hard line. There IS no other truth possible.

For the topic, there is quite a difference between subtle and direct proof.

Subtle proof can be described as setting up a series of facts that you know the spectators are most likely to discover during the course of action (letting them catch a glimpse of an empty palm, when in fact having only seen a portion of it, they convince themselves that it is indeed, empty).

Direct proof is something that the magician calls into focus, so that it becomes a factor that later upholds the deception.

The balance of these two types is likely determined by the particular effect and the presentation that accompanies it.

I do think that an effect can be made more magical if subtle proof can be effectively substituted for direct proof.

~michael
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Whit Haydn
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I think that the important thing is for the performer to get the highest possible level of conviction to each premise of the argument.

Sometimes the greatest conviction will be obtained through a direct challenge (asking for agreement)--"There is nothing in my hands!"

Other times, the greatest sense of conviction in the spectator's mind might be created by the subtle proof--the hand "accidently" shown. But this requires the spectator to be looking for the right thing and following closely--asking a great deal of focus and attention.

A great deal of skill and clever scripting is necessary to carry the spectators along with you on such a ride, and sometimes, I think, the mixture of strong proofs--or proving by seeking agreement--with "subtle proofs" that don't seek agreement is the strongest.
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