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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » Houdini Historical Center exposes Metamorphosis illusion (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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David Todd
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Received this via e-mail and am passing it along here in case anyone had not heard about this. If you contact them, please be respectful but firm in your opposition to this planned exhibit.

-------------------

The Houdini Historical Center in Appleton, WI. is redesigning their exhibit. One of the new features they are planning is an exposure of Houdini's Metamorphosis illusion. They will have an interactive part of the exhibit and allow people to "perform" this illusion. (exposing the workings of the box) This is most distressing to magicians as it should be to the general public. Once a secret is learned, all the wonder is taken from the people viewing the illusion. Please call the Houdini Museum,
920-735-9370 x 106 and speak to the museum director Terry Bergan
or e-mail to terry@foxvalleyhistory.org
and voice your displeasure with this decision. Better yet, if you can, mail them a letter. The address is:

Houdini Historical Center
330 E College Ave.
Appleton, WI 54911

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James Peters
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Hasn't the Masked Magician has already exposed this one on tv??

To be honest, even if you know exactly how it's done, a slick performance will still impress an audience. I still watch people do it, and love it!

James.
x-treem
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Dai, I know Terry personally as well as the updates to the Center, this has never been brought up so it is more than likely Bull but I will look into it.
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Ty Argo
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First, Val. revealed a very much less used method, (which is, in part, good) plus people can't get up close and personal and see the true workings when something is on TV.

This is a terrible thing for an institute of magic to be doing. Houdini would be horrified!

If they need to reveal a secret of Houdini's to the public and have them interact with it, they need to choose an effect not featured in magician's acts. Have they forgotten that tipping the laymen is the biggest no-no in all of magic?

I agree with you James that a good performance is still impressive, but nobody is going to hire you if they see that your feature trick is something that has been revealed.

Laymen don't have the same appreciation of magic that we do, to get the enjoyment out of it, even after they find out the secret. We are accustomed to thinking that way, because we typically know how most effects are done and therefore learn to appreciate the performance. Laymen don't. Read my signature. Didn't mean to come off bad.

This is also being discussed at: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......36&3
Dyslexics UNTIE!!
James Peters
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I guess it's easy to forget sometimes that non-magicians view these things very differently!

Thanks for reminding me! Smile

James.
The Donster
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I also heard this about the Sid Radner Collection, it is being Shipped out to Vegas. Also, Rondini is Upset by This. Don,
David Todd
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Quote:
On 2003-06-18 14:04, x-treem wrote:
Dai, I know Terry personally as well as the updates to the Center, this has never been brought up so it is more than likely Bull but I will look into it.



Thanks, Shawn. Please let us know what the scoop is. I e-mailed Terry, but have not heard back anything yet.
If it's a rumor I will act just as quickly to squash it .
x-treem
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Ron! UGH, Don, don't bring his name up around me.

The OHS has the collection for the next 10 years, some is going but enough is staying to make for a great new display according to Terry.

Shawn
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Scott Xavier
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Occums Razor: The simplest solution, usually is.
David Todd
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(not sure if you are referring to the inner workings of the Metamophosis illusion, or to the origin of the story about the Houdini Historical Center's plans for this exhibit)

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Occam's (or Ockham's) Razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar; William of Occam. Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.

The principle states that "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily." Sometimes it is quoted in one of its original Latin forms to give it an air of authenticity.

"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate"
"Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora"
"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem"

This principle goes back at least as far as Aristotle who wrote "Nature operates in the shortest way possible." Aristotle went too far in believing that experiment and observation were unnecessary. The principle of simplicity works as a heuristic rule-of-thumb but some people quote it as if it is an axiom of physics. It is not. It can work well in philosophy or particle physics but less often so in cosmology or psychology, where things usually turn out to be more complicated than you ever expected. 

Perhaps a quote from Shakespeare would be more appropriate than Occam's razor: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

-------------------

Yes. Most of the time.

Now, having agreed on the general usefulness of the good Rev. Occam's theory of knowledge, I still think we ought to be concerned with a museum exposing magical principles to the general public.

I am fully aware that the modern versions of Metamorphosis have faster, more advanced mechanics to accomplish the effect but I think the point here, is that we don't want the public being reminded of the fact that such things as "gimmicked boxes" exist in the first place, certainly not in connection with escape-type effects. The packing crate or trunk is just a packing crate or a trunk, right? (at least that is what we want to present it as)

So, it is injurious to the presentation of such effects to make the public aware of the existence of such things, even if the workings in a modern SubTrunk are somewhat improved over what Harry and Bess used in their day.

Obviously, a spectator who thinks back on the event later and applies "Occam's Razor" logic to any illusion will come up with something like: "there must have been a gaffe in the box that allowed the performers to exchange places" but do we really want the Houdini Museum (or any exposer) helping them along by openly exposing magic principles?

Of course, I'm still waiting to hear back whether or not this whole thing is just a rumor or if the Houdini Museum is actually going to go ahead with this exhibit.

:subtrunk:
x-treem
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Dai, my question on this subject was avoided but Terry did tell me that they have been bombarded by angery emails and phone calls. So I'll keep you all updated.

Shawn
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Ty Argo
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I'm glad so many people are taking an active stand in this fight, but if you do call or send a letter, PLEASE BE COURTEOUS. Any rude or angry letters will detract from the rest of our attempts to stop this action (if it is really going to happen).

What makes me wonder is that Shawn, you said you talked to Terry but she avoided the subject. If this was a BS claim, then why wouldn't she have simply said that. I find it curious that she didn't give you an answer. It seems if there was nothing going on, she would tell you so.
Ponder, ponder......???
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x-treem
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Thought the same thing BUT don't want to admit it publicly........oh, I guess I just did Smile MY BAD.

Emailed not talked though, easy to skirt the issue. Been to busy to get on the phone and ask.
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The Donster
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As for the Metamorphosis, I heard that they were going to be allowing people to get inside and show them the secret. Also in the Magic Café, I guess some Magicians are suing because of the masked Magician, their not going after him but I believe Fox. Don,

Just heard that Sid Radner is going to be moving everything out. Now remember, this is hear-say and anything can change at any time. From what I'm hearing a lot of people are upset. I guess we are all going to have to wait a few months in order to find out what actually is going to happen. Don,
AJP807
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I just received a SAM on line email from
Zany Blaney:

WAM arranged for both Mark Wilson and David Copperfield to speak to Ms. Terry Bergen, Executive Director of the Houdini Museum. It was Ms. Bergen's idea to use the SUB-TRUNK as a "hand's on" plaything in the Houdini Museum, allowing visitors to see if they can crawl through that "silly little trap door"

Mark talked to her over an hour and she would not budge. Today David did the same thing and again she would not budge. The way I see it, Ms. Bergen apparently believes that SHE has the right of free speach in this matter but not the magicians.

We are still working on speaking with the Executive Directors of several of the Appleton civic groups who sponsor the museum.

Never say die.

Here is a letter from WAM supporter Andre Kole, who got David Copperfield to talk with Ms. Bergen. We thank Andre for this and we thank David Copperfield and Mark Wilson for their efforts in this on going matter.

Also thanks to Bev Bergeron and David Charvet on their thoughts regarding substituting other "non-exposure" type items in the "hands-on area" IN PLACE OF the Sub-Trunk. And I think any future letters to Appleton would be best considered by the Executive Directors of those Appleton business grouops... listed in the current issue of the NZ Magic Ezine in a letter by Bob Bohm.

And now...heeeeeeeere's ANDRE!

---------------------------------------

Dear Walter and other concerned magicians,
Walter, at your request I asked David Copperfield to discuss the Houdini Exposure issue with Terry Bergen, The Executive Director of the Houdini Museum. David had quite a lengthy discussion with her and her attitude was just a continuation of the same response that Mark Wilson received. She made it very clear that she was not going to be persuaded to change her mind by any pressure put on her by magicians who she feels have attacked her and threatened her. She feels, in a country where journalists have the freedom to say what they want, and have the First Amendment Right to free speech, she has a job to do and is going to do it her way. She fully intends to stand up for her rights and has no intention of giving in to the on going harassment she feels she has continued to receive from magicians.

I could go on and on but I have said enough to convey her determination to resist our point of view.

It was my understanding from David that at this point she does not have the funding to even do this project, so the present plans and goals may never even materialize.
David and I discussed what we felt is the best approach which is similar to the approach that Bev and David Charvet mentioned earlier. And that is for the magicians to share with her a plan where the magicians would work with her in helping her to achieve her goal in a positive "win-win"
situation that would eliminate the exposure and yet achieve greater results. Some of the escapes from jails, chains and other things Houdini did that do not affect us could be explained in a theatrical and interesting way, so she could still use the "exposure" theme yet still protect what we need to protect. I think this is the only approach that has the potential for a positive resolution for all concerned.

Let me give you an example. Last year I attended an atheists convention. As far as I know, I was the only Christian there, with about 600 of the leading atheists from around the world. I was considered a novelty at this convention and I was even introduced
at one of the major sessions. I went there with a positive attitude, knowing that God loves atheists too and I should do the same.
I made many new friends, and during the convention I shared with various ones my belief in God from a magicians's point of view. Very simply put: Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus performed miracles that only God can do. Considering the miracles He performed
either Jesus was God or else He was the greatest magician the world has ever known. Based on my experience as a magician I know it would have been impossible to do what he did 2000 years ago with what known magic existed at that time. Either Jesus was a magician or else he was God. Since it was impossible for Him to have been a magician, it left only one possibility. This viewpoint fascinated the leadership of the atheist convention so much that I've been asked to speak at their next convention.

So, if the above can happen between one Christian in an atmosphere with 600 atheists, surely something in an amazingly
similar situation can also take place regarding the Houdini exposure situation.

Andre Kole

Andre Kole's Staff
Andre Kole Productions
andrekole@andrekole.org
SANTINI
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Hi all,
Let me get this straight... to quote Andre Kole: "Some of the escapes from jails, chains and other things Houdini did that do not affect us could be explained in a theatrical and interesting way, so she could still use the "exposure" theme yet still protect what we need to protect". Wow! That sure says a great deal indeed. If one can read these words and what they mean in a direct way, one could clearly draw the conclusion that Mr. Cole seems to feel that any type of escapology "expose" is fine just so long as it does not in any way affect
"the magicians".

In other words, since the Metamorphosis is still being used by magicians and illusionists it should be protected but to heck with the methods of the escapologists! I love the way magicians look at escapology. When one of them does an escape, it is somehow more than a release and is an
"illusion". However, apparantly, we escapists don't rate unless we do things that can be considered "magicial" which obviously jail and chain escapes simply are not (at least in the eyes of Mr. Kole). Talk about lines of division being drawn...

Food for thought, Steve Santini
x-treem
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What boggles my mind even further, when I went to the museum in 1997 they had a pair of gravity Darbies there for people to play with along with a child's sized strait jacket.

The jacket is now gone and the bolts are missing from the Darbies. I thought progress was being made there.

There are so many variations of the sub-trunk, can't they go with a version that is in little use today say one from the 50's with a different method.... I know it is still exposure BUT......

I will not be sending my contribution for the museum's new display until this is resolved. Hopefully other contributors will back out as well.

P.S. Steve hit it on the head once again.

X
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Stuart Burrell
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(Warning Rant starting now)

This should be causing alarm bells to ring but once again it seems as though Escapology is underated by our Magical cousins.

Every other form of magic seems to be allowed to exist, yet Escapology is shunned. Is it because of the fact that our art form requires a different skill base or is it the fact that the worst a magician can get is a paper cut?

If it goes wrong for an escapologist, it can be fatal.

Sometimes people forget that!

I have had people in my local magic club get injured because they have tried to do my escapes but with the wrong equpiment. When I found out I asked around and it seems a magician had given them his take on what I did.

Escapology is an extreme art form, letting people 'play and figure out' things is fine but what then? They'll go home and a few might just be silly enough to try it again, then what?

Cut arms, blood clots or worse. Then escapology gets a bad reputation.

We are destroyed because someone does somthing silly, all because a bunch of magicians don't want people to see how a sub trunk works.

No thank you!

(Rant over)
The Donster
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I heard this through someone, could she possibly be hit with Litigation and possibly sued? Also how is the Museum going to Look if Sid Radner takes part or all of His Collection out and moves it to Vegas. Don,
SANTINI
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No one can be sued for revealing how an ancient illusion is done. Especially when what may be "exposed" is an old method of doing it which is not at all the same way in which many leading folks in magic do it today. For anyone to sue to prevent exposure, they would have to prove intellectual copyright had been violated. And to do that, they would have to prove they were the originator of the original idea. Somehow I do not think the original creator of this illusion is going to rise from the grave, dust themselves off and with rotting fingers turn the yellow pages of the phone book to find a lawyer skilled in intellectual property law.

If "the magicians" are all in a knot over an early seldom used method being exposed, perhaps they should have started screaming long before this. Like when we were told how the darn thing worked in countless Houdini television documentaries and even movies portraying his life. Or even when many of his great escapes, including some which could be presented as "illusions" were published for all to see by esteemed magic author Walter B. Gibson.

I find it amazing that many of these same magicians were not complaining when the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada was in operation. True, that museum did not reveal how the Metamorphosis worked but it did reveal how a number of other "illusions" were accomplished by leading magicians such as Thurston, Kellar, and others. Why was no one complaining or making phone calls over this? Let's face it folks, there may just be more than a simple old time illusion being exposed here and none of us knows the whole story. There may even be some forms of magician "politics" involved.

Personally, I know from experience that to operate a museum today, one needs to present part education and part entertainment. This means that a number of your exhibits have to be "hands on" and interactive if you hope to attract visitors and compete against other more stimulating forms of entertainment. Gone are the days of being content with looking at stuff behind a glass walled case. People want more and they expect more. Seems to me that Terry, the curator of the Houdini exhibit, had the right idea and I for one would support her and her ideas in any way I can, were I to actually be asked for assistance.

Regards, Steve Santini
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