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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Do exposures actually help the industry? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Cyberqat
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Here's an interesting thought that's been kicking around my head. Sure to be controversial at least.

But one thing that plagues magic is the *** "me toos." An effect gets popular and suddenly *everyone* is doing a version of it. This has always annoyed me.

A few observations...
(1) People who "expose" generally stick to the most currently popular things because they get the best audience that way. That's where the interest lies.
(2) People in general, and Americans in particular, have very short memories.

SO... annoyed as I am that my beloved Zombie got exposed, the fact of the matter was that was the result of magicians "rediscovering" it and it becoming something too many people were doing, again. Now, they've stopped. And in 5 to ten years I'll be able to do it again as something "fresh" and different.

Meanwhile there is a whole wealth of old illusions that have either been exposed and forgotten or otherwise were played out. Magic has always been cyclic in that over-used illusions start to bore audiences and the mass audiance dies away til the next thing that seems "new"... which very often is actually old and repackaged.

The other thing this does is bring true talent and skill to the forefront. A top slight of hand artist fools all of us who know all the moves, anyway. A really great performer makes it entertaining even if we know the illusion,

So, while I think youtube might be accelerating the process some,I have this feeling that the process itself is natural, normal and maybe even necessary for the health of the art.


Okay... now tell me you think I'm nuts Smile
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Jaz
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To a small degree you may be right. There will be those who strive for perfection prior to performing and those who won't. Those who won't aren't much help to magic.

I'm sure it helps sell products.
othelo68
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One could argue that those who are drawn to the exposure of tricks are the ones with an interest in magic to begin with.
Very valid point though. I really agree and to be perfectly honest it probably is not limited to magic but to most things in life you only have to read classic literature to realize that the problems facing us today and only new in context. It's always been the same window with different curtains.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Although I have no fix for the exposure frenzy we are in at present, I do not for one second think that exposures "help the industry". No doubt before what we call the information age they were relatively innocuous, but now they reach too large a segment of our prospective spectators.

I believe exposure only helps the exposers, in many and varied ways...
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Jonathan Townsend
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As long as by "industry" you mean "those who sell apparatus" - I could not argue the point. It's a commercial with the added whiff of the illicit called "exposure" available at finer boutiques where silk scarves are sold.
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Bill Palmer
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One of the biggest problems with exposures is the way that they take down the little guy, specifically the fellow who is what I would call a lower to middle level stage magician, working to increase the scope of his act by purchasing a "beginner" illusion, such as the packing case escape.

Granted, the packing case escape is relatively inexpensive. You can get one from MAK Magic or someone similar for around $400-$500, maybe even less. So you get one, you advertise it in your youtube video or on your earthlink web site. Then the Masked Magician comes on and exposes it.

So, what happens next? You start getting calls from people who saw the exposure and may have booked you into a party or a show. They ask if you have something else you can do in place of that one, "because everyone saw it on that exposure show." Your investment in time and money is now down the tubes.

And in this case, the industry will have not been helped, because nobody will want to buy one.
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tommy
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Likewise it is with con games that become obsolete through exposure for years and make a come back like a fashion that the current crop of suckers have never heard of.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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bishthemagish
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I agree with Bill Palmer on this one and if I may add - I think that it is sad that there are people out there that would expose magic for a price. I also think that it is sad in the way that some magic illusions have been exposed. Like what we do is cheep and easy to do - you just need to know the secret.

In my opinion magicians work hard and magic is not an easy thing to do. Moving props - set up - do the show (and sometimes it takes years and even a lifetime to get that show and put it together) then the take down and move the props again for the next show.

There is an advantage with sleight of hand magic - knowing the secret is just the thing - close up and sleight of hand magic - takes time to learn and just knowing the secret is not the only thing. When this is exposed (and it should not be exposed) there is sometimes a little bit of respect there for the amount of practice it takes.

But I still think that exposure is not good for magic on any level but that is just my opinion.

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Cyberqat
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Thanks guys.

I think this is an interesting discussion and many good points have been raised.

I actually don't have a strong opinion here, this was more of a musing. But in general I think any orthodoxy that gets taken for granted as "true" needs to be dusted off now and then and tested for validity.

And "magic exposure is bad" is certainly one of those orthodoxies Smile
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HerbLarry
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The only thing exposure helped is Hugh Hefner and such.
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Cyberqat
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Here's another one....

Do we actually bring exposure on ourselves by the way we act?

Although you occasionally see a special or documentary on how movie effects are done, you don't see big TV promotions for "Secret of the movies revealed!" Why do we draw such attention?

Is it perhaps because of our attitude? That we make too big a deal out of the "secrecy of the art" and in doing so fan the flames of interest in exposing those secrets?

There's nothing like someone looking you in the face and going "I know something you don't know" to make you WANT to learn that something. And I think the magician attitude, when taken to extremes, can come off just that taunting. There is nothing like bald-faced arrogance to make people want to knock you off your pedestal, and I think we sometimes fall prey to that one, too.

If we made more of a deal about the performance, and less of a deal about "howdee doits" would the audience for exposure be smaller? There wasn't a lot of exposure of Copperfields illusions, at least in the general public, and I think part of that was he made it about the story he was telling, not the illusion or illusions it contained.

Anyway, something more to think about.
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Bill Hallahan
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Bill Palmer posted what I was going to write, which is that exposure results in a loss in time and money for magicians who have created an act.

In addition, exposing some ideas reveals how many routines are done.

I doubt American's memories are shorter than people from any other country. I might believe our average attention span is shorter, but that's something different. If someone learns the secret to the Linking Rings, they're probably going to know it for the rest of their lives. At the same time, it is possible for someone to learn of a gimmick of gaff used in one context, but not recognize it's used in another context.

Cyberqat wrote:
Quote:
Is it perhaps because of our attitude? That we make too big a deal out of the "secrecy of the art" and in doing so fan the flames of interest in exposing those secrets?

To be sure, some magicians (not "we") laud their secret knowledge, but hopefully these are clueless amateurs and not someone who is frequently hired as a magician. I expect that attitude is career-limiting. However, even when it exists, I don't believe that attitude is a significant reason for most, if any, exposure.

I think there are two primary motivators that lead people to expose magic secrets. Some amateurs, such as on youtube, want to be popular, and they feel that showing the methods will aid in them being accepted in the larger group. For large media exposure, such as the Masked Magician, I'm pretty sure that greed is the motivation. It's much easier to sell out others in the same profession than to form a good act and become famous that way. However, many (most?) in the general public don't respect someone who sells out their own profession. It's just not a cool thing to do.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Magic is a craft of secrets and mystery. An amateur, by definition, has too much respect for the craft to defile it. Especially that way. Perhaps the word some are trying to type their around and deny is pornography? Or for the timid, maybe we can settle for gossip?

Now, why is it we want respect as magicians? Okay - let's start with oneself:

Are you sure? You don't need me or anyone else to fool yourself - so what do you want to show others? And to those who like to explain...just what do you feel it's so important to reveal? Or is the word exhibitionist also somewhere on the agenda? Wherever you put it, it's still a lie. Do we have a hole in one?

Is it really that fun to be clever, or to seem clever, at others expense?
Even if only for a moment as we exhibit what we might wish we were blessed/endowed/talented enough to call our own?

I'm not being judgmental. just wondering if some of the appeal goes away when the guilt/shame are discussed openly.
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Michael Baker
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I'm not trying to play Devil's Advocate here, because I agree with the general consensus, but I would like to bring up a point somewhat to the contrary...

On the show "America's Got Talent", A group named "Fighting Gravity" is doing very well for themselves with a superbly creative black art act. At the end of the act, the lights are brought up, thereby introducing the full cast of artists. This inadvertently exposes the secret of black art to the millions watching it.

However, that is not the focus. They don't run around with any sort of indication of, "See? This is how we did it." They are just there to be seen as the group they are, and to receive their comments from the judges, which are very high praise, by the way.

Now, I couldn't care less what anyone here thinks about the show itself. Most of us are aware of how often performers are manipulated by the producers in order to gain TV ratings. This is not the only show to do that. That aside, I watch the show because there are some seriously talented people doing their acts, and I enjoy watching them perform, regardless of whether they are eventually abused or not. I'm sure by now, many of the acts know what to expect anyway. I don't believe they are going into this completely uninformed.

OK, that is off the track... Back to the exposure of a magic principle on the show. Someone commented on another thread that they wished they had not exposed this secret of magic, and my immediate thoughts at that time was that they could not have further missed the point if they had tried.

The point about this exposure, is that nobody in the world of laymen cares

The quality of the act transcends the secret method employed. People applaud this act because they are so darned good at what they do. The act is not in any manner diminished in the eyes of those watching because they now know how it is done. The act is simply that enjoyable to watch. It is a feast for both the eyes and the mind. The focus of the audience is so far beyond the secret of how it's done, that it is no longer important.

Again, I do not condone random or blatant exposure, and absolutely agree that many magicians are hurt by it. But, I think magicians could learn a lot from what this act has been able to do. They know where the real value of the act lies. I'm not sure magicians always do.
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Jonathan Townsend
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puLZe-IKbnY

Notice that they don't explain or even discuss/expose their choreography - they just turn up the lights and accept applause.

And ... they don't perform as magicians.
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Whit Haydn
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I think in this case, there is no claim and no dilemma. This was not magic, but a special effect.
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2010-08-01 13:54, Whit Haydn wrote:
I think in this case, there is no claim and no dilemma. This was not magic, but a special effect.


Perhaps not. But the special effect is consistent with magic effects. Things appear, vanish, and defy gravity. The implication (claim) is the same.

However, the quality of the act loses nothing through the exposure of the method, whereas the same principle as used with say, a Square Circle would immediately diminish the effect upon exposure of the gimmick.

My point is merely that this group has found a way to do something that magicians so often fail at when attention is focused on a different aspect of the act. To consider such exposure as being the same is invalid (in my opinion).
~michael baker
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Jonathan Townsend
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Michael,

The performance of magic is distinct from the use of special effects in an artwork. For example using paint to give some objects in a painting shadows and changing the relative sizes of objects to represent to effects of perspective. Even a full trompe l'oeil painting itself is not a magic trick - as there's no magician present in real time reaching into the painting to add, adjust or remove objects.

IMHO your analysis is flawed.

Just because there's a rainbow in the sky does not mean someone vanished a pack of skittles.

-Jon
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Michael Baker
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It seems a bit short-sighted to assume that the magician must always be known, and/or visible, or even within the present. The effect of magic can be appreciated after the fact, even when one is not present at the time when it would be possible to witness the preceeding action. Simply lacking a kinetic state does not necessarily diminish the effect of magic. In some cases, yes... but not always.

A suspension of a person is not a kinetic act if one does not see the steps that lead up to that state. We do not know how she got there, or who put her there. Yet, there she is, floating in the air... not a movement, or a whisper, but a frozen point in time that is pure magic.

In an act of gravity defiance, there is still both a protagonist (the object), and an antagonist (gravity). The cause of the effect would emulate from something or somewhere. That is the magical entity or force... the magician. It may be either of the two named entities above (antagonist or protagonist), or neither, drawing a conclusion that a third, unknown or unseen entity is responsible.

If such an act lacks anything, it is completeness, as defined by its own framework. Without this there are danglings ends, which are unanswered mysteries, but mysteries none-the-less.

The Skittles analogy points to nothing more than a conclusion drawn from incomplete data.
~michael baker
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Cyberqat
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Quote:
On 2010-07-31 23:12, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puLZe-IKbnY

Notice that they don't explain or even discuss/expose their choreography - they just turn up the lights and accept applause.

And ... they don't perform as magicians.


This is an interesting point.

There is quite a history in the east of "black art performance" where the audience knows how its done and doesn't care. In fact, it goes to the extreme that there is a social/societal convention that stage hands in black are invisible and even in none black art conditions, the audience willingly "tunes out" their presence.

Here's a marvelous little black art performance that does not pretend to be anything else...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dcmDscwEcI
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
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