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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » How do Penn and Teller justify exposing illusions? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Palmer
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I can go along with that.

Bear in mind that I don't appreciate their exposures. Something that all of us need to bear in mind is that most of their exposures are over 10 years old. Their cups and balls exposure is so swift that it is nearly impossible to follow live.

Incidentally, nobody seems to be upset about Franz Harary's exposure of his vanishing submarine, which was not a CGI thing.

I should add this. Part of the fight against exposure is figuring out which battles are worth fighting and which ones are winnable.

This one is neither. Or at least that's how I feel about it.

The only way you can win it is by voting with your wallet.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Payne
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Quote:
On 2007-01-16 22:28, todsky wrote:
Bill, I have formed the Fine Whine Magic Club, and I just kicked out Penn and Teller.


How can you kick them out if they never belonged?

First make them honorary members, heck make them lifetime members! Why not go for broke. Make up a nice certificate for your club with their names prominently displayed, mail it to them (registered of course). Then you can kick them out of your clib.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Joey Stalin
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Quote:
On 2007-01-16 18:48, todsky wrote:
I don't think it matters the quality of method that was exposed, the point is they tell audiences one method for accomplishing an illusion, and from then on a spectator seeing a similar illusion will likely assume they know the method, even if they know the wrong method. Even worse, I think, is that P&T present magic as a puzzle to be worked out, which in my opinion lessens the art and experience of magic.


Please. So if I invent some crazy super complicated way to vanish a rabbit, that has nothing to do with any other way in use or created, that only works on TV, I would be doing wrong? Please....

Last I heard telling specs a false explanation is great misdirection to hide the true method.

People always make guesses about how an illusion is done. They already make assumptions as to how it is done. Usually they are wrong. Sometimes they are right. Yet this hasn't done damage to magic at all. And sorry to tell you but people, adults anyway, always see magic as a puzzel to be solved. What is the first question they ask you after your do and effect? "How did you do that?" Kids younger than 10 may believe in magic, but sorry to tell you, adults don't. They know there is a real explanation to what they saw.

Did you read what I typed up from that issue of Genii?
-A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
-It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
-The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.

See you space cowboy...
nabil
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Cheers Payne! And thanks to the guys who posted the oath, I needed a good laugh. A few questions to the oathers: first, what entitles you to carry this knowledge? What is it about people who don't perform the art that makes them unentitled to have that knowledge? How does one gain entitlement? Common guys... the entitlement mentality?!? Are you serious?


Posted: Jan 17, 2007 3:38am
-------------------------------------------
And to the guys out there who figure Penn & Teller, Mac King, and Derren Brown must not be very good or they wouldn't need to expose...What?!?!?!
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Quote:
On 2007-01-17 02:51, Joey Stalin wrote:
Quote:
On 2007-01-16 18:48, todsky wrote:
I don't think it matters the quality of method that was exposed, the point is they tell audiences one method for accomplishing an illusion, and from then on a spectator seeing a similar illusion will likely assume they know the method, even if they know the wrong method. Even worse, I think, is that P&T present magic as a puzzle to be worked out, which in my opinion lessens the art and experience of magic.


Please. So if I invent some crazy super complicated way to vanish a rabbit, that has nothing to do with any other way in use or created, that only works on TV, I would be doing wrong? Please....

Last I heard telling specs a false explanation is great misdirection to hide the true method.

People always make guesses about how an illusion is done. They already make assumptions as to how it is done. Usually they are wrong. Sometimes they are right. Yet this hasn't done damage to magic at all. And sorry to tell you but people, adults anyway, always see magic as a puzzel to be solved. What is the first question they ask you after your do and effect? "How did you do that?" Kids younger than 10 may believe in magic, but sorry to tell you, adults don't. They know there is a real explanation to what they saw.

Did you read what I typed up from that issue of Genii?


Well said, but my point was influenced by my recent reading of Magic and Meaning by Burger and Neale, which got me thinking that magic is more powerful and meaningful to the spectator if it is presented in story form, and doesn't directly challenge the spec to figure out the method. In other words, does magic have more impact as a puzzle or as a dramatic experience? P&T are just presenting a puzzle, and then solving the puzzle for the audience. Entertaining yes, but not magic that is a moving experience, except to some magicians who view their exposures and have an uncontrollable urge to move their bowels.

What is that Genii article you're referring to?
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todsky
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Quote:
On 2007-01-16 23:26, Bill Palmer wrote:
Incidentally, nobody seems to be upset about Franz Harary's exposure of his vanishing submarine, which was not a CGI thing.


I haven't seen this one. I may have to give Franz an honorary membership in the Fine Whine club, and then kick him out as well.
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Joey Stalin
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Quote:
On 2007-01-16 08:31, Joey Stalin wrote:
GENII magazine March 2006 said:

GENII: Were you and Penn in the editing room or did NBC edit in isolation?

TELLER: I edited a version of the Underwater Standup Routine. I presented our producers and NBC with what I thought was, from a magic point of view, the best edit of that sequence. But keep in mind that editing yourself on video is virtually impossible because you know what you intended. You can't seen what is really on the screen in the pure way an editor can. That's why we have editors and directors. So that someone with a fresh eye can look at what you are doing and know the difference between what you wish you did and what you did for real.

GENII: Would you say that at some point in all of this you lost control of the show? It's happened to well-known Hollywood stars and directors....

TELLER: You can't lose control of what you never had.

GENII: Were you aware that you did not have the final cut?

TELLER: Yes, absolutely, there is contractual language that stated that NBC had the final cut. So I went in with one vision and came out with another. Something which happens in every word of art.

GENII: In this case, that resulted in camera shots that exposed two illusions.

TELLER: When we went into it, we had designed some tricks to be shown from the magician's point of view. Neither the Metamorphosis nor the Million Dollar Mystery were intended as such segments. Because in both, we believed, the effect would be stronger than the explanation. But, as I said, cameras were rolling all the time from every angle during the shoot. And when Star Prince went in assemble it, he saw the backstage footage of those two tricks and found them more dramatic and interesting than the effect themselves. I saw the first cut with laymen. They assume they were seeing tricks that could work only underwater. I couldn't imagine when looking at us swimming around a cage and relating that to, say, the Pendragons' spectacular version of the Metamorphosis. And I think it would take and expert magician to realize that the tu**el going into the Million Dollar cabinet was covered with mi**ors. It wasn't really until Johnny Thompson looked at it and was concerned that I had any qualms at all. Johnny's been defending us for years on a couple of artistic points, one of which is that we virtually always invent the tricks that we expose. There is no one I respect more than Johnny. So I took his concerns to NBC. NBC said, "No, we like what we have; it's a really good part of the show."

GENII: They wouldn't budge?

TELLER: They were willing to bend a little on the particulars. They allowed us to rewrite the narration to direct the viewer's attention to Penn and Teller's discomfort and stupidity, rather than to the parts of the method that overlap with standard technique. that's how we came to put so much attention on the weight of the helmet and our hidden wire to support it - which evidently worked, since you asked about it. In the Million Dollar we emphasized Penn's Clumsiness and Teller's bad disco dancing and deftly removed the word "mi**or* from the text of the script. We also switched in some angles which looked funnier and more strenuous - and, coincidently, showed no reflections in the mi**ors. By the time we were done, the sequence was, I believe, a little funnier and more dramatic. And even if a lay spectator were to finish watching Off the Deep End and go right to a magic show featuring Metamorphosis and Million Dollar Mystery, he would be clueless. Of course, my frank opinion is that no exposure ever gets in the way of magic.

GENII: Do you think that because of the way in which the pendragons do metamorphosis that the public simply wouldn't believe that they could be doing what they had seen exposed?

TELLER: I don' think the public sees it as even remotely related. They public saw a show of underwater magic, not a trunk trick. But even specific discussion about tricks seems to have no effect. There's been lots and lots and lots of detailed speculation about our "Bullet Catch" all over the internet. And yet we do it nightly and everybody's amazed.

GENII: Does anybody know how it's done? I think it's a pretty well-kept secret.

TELLER: It's a pretty *** good trick, but that doesn't stop people from coming up with explanations, some of which I believe are right.



This is what I was talking about.
-A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
-It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
-The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.

See you space cowboy...
Payne
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Quote:
On 2007-01-17 09:20, todsky wrote:

Well said, but my point was influenced by my recent reading of Magic and Meaning by Burger and Neale, which got me thinking that magic is more powerful and meaningful to the spectator if it is presented in story form, and doesn't directly challenge the spec to figure out the method. In other words, does magic have more impact as a puzzle or as a dramatic experience? P&T are just presenting a puzzle, and then solving the puzzle for the audience. Entertaining yes, but not magic that is a moving experience, except to some magicians who view their exposures and have an uncontrollable urge to move their bowels.



This is one way to present magic, but as Burger has oft times said "The house of magic has many rooms" or more colloquially "There's more than one way to skin a cat".
Magic can be awe inspiring, funny, poignant, dramatic, touching, frantic, morose or any other style you can think of. P&T may not be doing "Story Magic" but many of their pieces have a very strong message attached to them. Their commentary on Flag Burning and the Essence of Freedom comes to mind. They use magic as a soap box to espouse their ideology. Which is one of the reasons you love 'em or hate 'em. They definitely have a world view and they make sure you know about it. Coincidentally there is a very good essay about this very type of performing in Eric Meads new book.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
freefallillusion1
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Quote:
Please. So if I invent some crazy super complicated way to vanish a rabbit, that has nothing to do with any other way in use or created, that only works on TV, I would be doing wrong? Please....

Last I heard telling specs a false explanation is great misdirection to hide the true method.

People always make guesses about how an illusion is done. They already make assumptions as to how it is done. Usually they are wrong. Sometimes they are right. Yet this hasn't done damage to magic at all. And sorry to tell you but people, adults anyway, always see magic as a puzzel to be solved. What is the first question they ask you after your do and effect? "How did you do that?" Kids younger than 10 may believe in magic, but sorry to tell you, adults don't. They know there is a real explanation to what they saw.

Did you read what I typed up from that issue of Genii?


Well, I never thought that anyone in the audience truly believed that I was doing real magic, nor did I want them to. The gripe here, which I fully agree with, is the way Penn and Teller PROMOTE the thinking that it's a puzzle to be solved. DC simply presents a good magic show. Look at the audience as they finish watching a routine by DC, and then P&T. Which one makes them say "Whoa...." and which one is more likely to make them say "Heh heh heh, now we know better"? P&T have some brilliant routines which don't qualify as exposure, but they also have exposed some good stuff FOR NO REASON- not to teach others some beginner close up tricks or anything like that, but TO EXPOSE. TO SAY "HERE'S HOW WE DID IT". Yes, I've read what Teller said in Genii, but I also realize that Penn DID in fact provide narration for the explanation of million dollar mystery. So, they're innocent? Please...

By the way, if you invent something that can actually be used to fool the audience for entertainment, you are wrong in exposing it. And this does not mean things like the "backstage milk vanish" or any comedy routine where the secret is "apparently" exposed, only to totally fool the audience later. What I'm referring to are things like Franz Harary's sub vanish, an illusion he created. The audience doesn't care who created what. All they see is someone who calls himself a respected magician, and then is exposing magic. Bottom line: When did blatant exposure cease to become wrong? It doesn't matter whether the audience remembers it later or not. Isn't exposure still wrong? What am I missing here?

Phil
Thommy Razor
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Quote:
On 2007-01-17 03:34, nabil wrote:
Cheers Payne! And thanks to the guys who posted the oath, I needed a good laugh. A few questions to the oathers: first, what entitles you to carry this knowledge? What is it about people who don't perform the art that makes them unentitled to have that knowledge? How does one gain entitlement? Common guys... the entitlement mentality?!? Are you serious?


Posted: Jan 17, 2007 3:38am
-------------------------------------------
And to the guys out there who figure Penn & Teller, Mac King, and Derren Brown must not be very good or they wouldn't need to expose...What?!?!?!

We are entitled to this knowledge for the same reason a plumber is entitled to his: We payed for it. We took the time to learn it. We spent years perfecting it. Its a knowledge the general public doesn't have, but we sought it out. At some point in our lives we decided THIS is what we want to do, and the preservation of our secrets is detrimental to the art. I believe in the oath, and it's something I do live by. I've not sworn on Mark Wilson's book, but I've decided in my own life to never expose a secret. That is important to me. Other people ARE entitled to this knowledge, IF they buy it, study it, memorize it, work on it, re-work it, perfect it, and perform it. If'n ya wanna be a plumber, ya gotta study it and work on it.
Just my 2 dollar bill.
Cheers!!!
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nabil
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Thommy wrote: "I believe in the oath, and it's something I do live by."
Great men live by what they believe in. But if we never challange our beliefs, we would all go around believing exactly what we believed as children, and never grow...
Yes, if you wants to BE a plumber, you would need to study and work on plumbing. No doubt...But what if you want to LEARN about plumbing? Perhaps you'ld like to be able to handle small plumbing needs on your own. Or, maybe you just like learning lots of different things. After all, aren't we living in the information age?

Michael Ammar recently posted:

"At no point in history has it ever been a good idea to make quality information hard to come by. No topic has ever benefited by making the good information scarce or hard to access. I know the arguement -- if it is too easy to get, then people won't appreciate it. While that may be true to some extent, I don't think it holds up in the long run.....I also wondered if the need for secrecy hasn't been the very thing that has held back the global advancement of our Art. With past magicians telling people to burn their secrets and props when they die, every new generation had to basically reinvent the wheel. Magic is supposed to be such an ancient art form, but to me it doesn't seem to have developed nearly as much as dance or other forms of theater has over the last 300 years, and I think secrets play a large role in that."
(Its here http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/searc......=4550992 . )
Much more recently, Phil wrote: "Isn't exposure still wrong? What am I missing here? "
Once upon a time I said the same thing. I think a good quality thing (or person) can't be EXPOSED. It can be revealed, taught, explained, shared, sold, given, etc. Some bits of knowledge may cause disappointment, others bit may fascinate. "Exposed" is a word better suited for things or people of very little value, that are being wrongly perceived as more valuable then they really are. So for me, EXPOSURE is not wrong, never was wrong, and never will be wrong. It benefits society. Just think of all the people helped by groups like the Better Buisiness Bureau and shows like Penn and Teller's show BULL****. Exposure is fair, exposure is just.
Bad magicians and bad magic, on the other hand, is our true enemy (we are often our own worst enemy). Check out Jamy Ian Swisses book "Shattering Illusions" for a great essay on this subject. Let's all keep our focus on trying to consisently improve ourselves and our performances!
Joey Stalin
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Yeah, poor performance expose much more than P&T and Valentino combined. If I invent some effect I am free to do with it what I want. If I want to do it on national television and then expose how I did it, I am free to do so. That is what P&T most often do, expose things they create.

As fore the "HERE'S HOW WE DID IT" comment, yeah that is true. That is how THEY did it. Which usually has no relation to other methods.

And like that old saying "Necessity is the mother of all invention"
-A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.
-It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
-The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything.

See you space cowboy...
JoyJoy
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Quote:
GENII magazine March 2006 said:

GENII: Were you and Penn in the editing room or did NBC edit in isolation?

TELLER: I edited a version of the Underwater Standup Routine. I presented our producers and NBC with what I thought was, from a magic point of view, the best edit of that sequence. But keep in mind that editing yourself on video is virtually impossible because you know what you intended. You can't seen what is really on the screen in the pure way an editor can. That's why we have editors and directors. So that someone with a fresh eye can look at what you are doing and know the difference between what you wish you did and what you did for real.

GENII: Would you say that at some point in all of this you lost control of the show? It's happened to well-known Hollywood stars and directors....

TELLER: You can't lose control of what you never had.

GENII: Were you aware that you did not have the final cut?

TELLER: Yes, absolutely, there is contractual language that stated that NBC had the final cut. So I went in with one vision and came out with another. Something which happens in every word of art.

GENII: In this case, that resulted in camera shots that exposed two illusions.

So they are not able to control their contracts? Didn´t they be long enough in the business, so they could guess what nbc will doing with such a noobie contract? They knew what nbc will do for fast money... well seams like P&T also only wanted fast money than.
If DC is doing a special - his guys will look at the final cut and give it free or not, if it´s not perfect like he wanted it.
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I've never read so many lame excuses explaining why exposure is OK in my life.

Seems like a group pretending to understand what magic is all about, but in reality understanding absolutely nothing about it.

Stealing other magicians creations and exposure both are driven by the desire for fame and money, but practiced by those lacking the skill and/or ethics to make it on the square.

Quite sad really.

The IBM, SAM, and places like the Magic Café and Genii forums ALL refuse to tolerate exposure, so one must presume that the majority of those who practice magic are against exposure.

It appears it's a small group of outsiders doing the damage with little recourse for ethical magicians but to call them to task when the miscreants ply their trade of marketing secrets not belonging to them for a small handfull of change.
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Quote:
On 2007-01-17 16:07, nabil wrote:
Much more recently, Phil wrote: "Isn't exposure still wrong? What am I missing here? "
Once upon a time I said the same thing. I think a good quality thing (or person) can't be EXPOSED. It can be revealed, taught, explained, shared, sold, given, etc. Some bits of knowledge may cause disappointment, others bit may fascinate. "Exposed" is a word better suited for things or people of very little value, that are being wrongly perceived as more valuable then they really are. So for me, EXPOSURE is not wrong, never was wrong, and never will be wrong. It benefits society. Just think of all the people helped by groups like the Better Buisiness Bureau and shows like Penn and Teller's show BULL****. Exposure is fair, exposure is just.


O.K., DO I HAVE TO DEFINE WHAT I MEAN BY EXPOSURE?????? I MEAN SPILLING THE SECRET BEHIND MAGIC!!! I really can't believe that actual magicians are debating this. ISN'T IT WRONG FOR A MAGICIAN TO REVEAL HOW IT'S DONE (tell the secret, tip the method, spill his guts to the lay public...)? Wasn't it always wrong? Has something changed now that some of us apparently see no problem with it?

Confused now,

Phil
mrunge
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I agree. It's more a matter of personal ethics and individual values than anything. The art of magic and those who enjoy it have, historically, taken great efforts to protect it's secrets.

How many times have you started to do an effect for others to enjoy, only to have some knucklehead in the group yell out, "I know how he does it", "it's in his hand" or something else along those lines and taken all the fun out of it, not just for you, but for those you're trying to entertain?

We all know that magic is an illusion. It's fun and games. But it takes a lot of time, patience, persistence, determination, money and practice to learn. Shouldn't there be some sort of payoff for all that effort?

There has been a long understanding, call it an unwritten rule, in the magic community and among those who study it, to guard the secrets in order for others to enjoy it. Some are right. The world will not end, civilization will not cease, etc...if the secrets are exposed. But what about the enjoyment being taken away from others due to a handful of people feeling a need to expose the secrets that many have tried so hard to learn in order to share amazement with others?

Sad. And all for a buck.

Mark.
NicholasC
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Don't forget Herbert L Becker. He revealed some illusion on Maury years ago.
Scott Imler
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Although I am not a basher of P & T as some of their stuff is very clever I will say this, I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot how P & T would feel. In other words how would they feel if someone in the audience sat through a performance and screamed out the methods to some of their creations.
Food for thought.
Payne
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Quote:
On 2007-01-18 02:46, freefallillusion1 wrote:

O.K., DO I HAVE TO DEFINE WHAT I MEAN BY EXPOSURE?????? I MEAN SPILLING THE SECRET BEHIND MAGIC!!! I really can't believe that actual magicians are debating this. ISN'T IT WRONG FOR A MAGICIAN TO REVEAL HOW IT'S DONE (tell the secret, tip the method, spill his guts to the lay public...)? Wasn't it always wrong? Has something changed now that some of us apparently see no problem with it?



This is nothing new. The exposuer debate is most likely as old as the practice itself and there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. At the turn of the previous century David Devant felt that the art of magic couldn't be fully appreciated unless the audience had an understanding of the method. He was of course kicked out of the Magic Circle for his beliefs (and actions).
It is not a cut and dry issue as we all have a different definition of the word. Some feel any tipping of a method to a non magician is verboten while others are comfortable with "Teach a Trick" segments on network magic specials. Some feel false explanations such as Vernon's French Drop revelation in his cups and balls routine or the display of the egg feke in the silk to egg routine are harmful to the craft while others don't. Exposure is a line drawn in shifting sand.
But in the end there is nothing you can do about it. If you are upset about those who you feel expose or so-called secrets then don't support them. Don't go to their shows, purchase their books or buy their tricks. Voice your discontent on Magic Message Boards because frankly that's all that you can do. For all your ranting and raving and gnashing of teeth those that expose will continue to do so whether you like it or not and frankly the bigger stink you make about it the more attention you bring them.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
todsky
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Nicely said, Payne.
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