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danaruns
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Quote:
On Aug 19, 2018, magicianbrady wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 17, 2018, Vitas White wrote:
Magic is a beautiful and dying art form.


Why do you think magic is a dying art form? Nowadays there's always magic shows airing on TV, magic videos going viral on the internet, magicians selling out big theaters... I think magic is more alive than its ever been.


I think magic is all but dead. In a pursuit that requires newness, originality and creativity, the vast, vast majority of magic performed is old and contains no original content beyond a different script or delivery by a particular character.

What audiences like least and hate most about magic is seeing tricks they believe they have already seen before (whether or not they have actually seen that particular presentation). What they crave most is surprise. Surprise is destroyed by repetition. The old line "familiarity breeds contempt" applies perfectly to magic. Music is more fondly thought of with repetition; magic is destroyed by repetition. Yet there is very little new in magic. When magic above all other things should be constantly new, it is almost never new. And as such, it is dying.

Just because people are still doing it doesn't mean it's not dead or dying. People still do Civil War reenactments. But the Civil War has been over for 150 years. They still play classical music and jazz and the Beatles. But those are echoes. As an art form, classical music died in the 1800s. Jazz died in the 1960s. The Beatles died in the 1970s. They died when new creations ceased. Magic is suffering from lack of newness. It's like almost all of magic is nothing but cover bands. And so it is dying. A few are trying to keep it alive. But most people's connection to magic is the "cover band" type of magic, not new magic.

This fits right into specialization. General magicians are almost universally re-performing old work. All the new work being done, and all the life being given to magic, is being done by the specialists.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
EvilClown
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There are some interesting points in this thread.

I think audiences care about one thing and one thing only--to be entertained. Your specialization, if you want to perform in front of them, is in HOW you are going to entertain them. That specialization can be in a broad range of categories from music to comedy to acting to magic. To the extent someone says they don't like magic, I suspect it is because they have not had an experience with magic that is entertaining. Worse, they have projected that experience on all performances in the genre.

Tricks are not, unto themselves, entertaining. At their basest levels they are skillfully demonstrated puzzles. The magician has a skill (say, have a chosen card appear face up in an otherwise facedown spread deck) and the viewer is left wondering how that happened--the puzzle. That's interesting--maybe--but not entertaining. Entertainment is about the journey you take the audience on. It's the only way the skill and the puzzle become compelling and why they matter. The audience is there to feel something...to experience an emotion or be taken on a place they cannot go in their own lives.

When we don't meet that standard as magicians, magic seems pointless to the audience. So I picked a card and you found it. Good for you. Why is that a skill anyone would want to develop? Why does the audience really care about this? What is the story you want to tell? What takes the audience out of the reality and puts them in a place of fantasy, awe and amazement. The answer to that question isn't based on if you decided to master BOTH rope and card tricks or just one of those.

I think you can do old stuff and it is not a sign that the art is dead. If old=dead were the case, they wouldn't revive musicals on Broadway. Sure, new material continues to emerge, but the old material remains vital to the art form. Why? Because the art form for the performer--and for the audience in many respects--isn't the script or the sheet music. The art form is the performance. If you put on Romeo and Juliet for an audience that has not seen it or is unfamiliar with it, it has amazing impact. It may not be new, but it's new to them. There is tons of great stuff in old magic books and magazines that no one has seen in 30 years. For the audience, it is just as fresh as whatever new Rubik's cube trick Murphy's is pushing this week.

I think we over-worry about repetition. Very few people have seen magic live, especially as adults. They certainly don't see it weekly at a place like the Magic Castle, and they will not retain a lot of the ins and outs of what they do see. If they see Pop Haydn do his version of the Chicago Opener and then see John Wilson do his with just a week or two between them, I seriously doubt most laymen would even know it is essentially the same trick.

I guess this was a very long-winded way of saying that in my opinion, being a specialist or a generalist in magic is not the primary question--go whichever direction makes you happiest and is most interesting to you. But if your goal is to perform, then make sure that you do make the choice to specialize in being entertaining when you present your work. Make sure you are giving the audience an experience and ideas that are better and more interesting than the ones they had when your performance began. Serve your audience by remembering why your audience exists. If you do that, everything else will fall into place with practice and good routining.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Aug 20, 2018, danaruns wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 19, 2018, magicianbrady wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 17, 2018, Vitas White wrote:
Magic is a beautiful and dying art form.


Why do you think magic is a dying art form? Nowadays there's always magic shows airing on TV, magic videos going viral on the internet, magicians selling out big theaters... I think magic is more alive than its ever been.


I think magic is all but dead. In a pursuit that requires newness, originality and creativity, the vast, vast majority of magic performed is old and contains no original content beyond a different script or delivery by a particular character.

What audiences like least and hate most about magic is seeing tricks they believe they have already seen before (whether or not they have actually seen that particular presentation). What they crave most is surprise. Surprise is destroyed by repetition. The old line "familiarity breeds contempt" applies perfectly to magic. Music is more fondly thought of with repetition; magic is destroyed by repetition. Yet there is very little new in magic. When magic above all other things should be constantly new, it is almost never new. And as such, it is dying.

Just because people are still doing it doesn't mean it's not dead or dying. People still do Civil War reenactments. But the Civil War has been over for 150 years. They still play classical music and jazz and the Beatles. But those are echoes. As an art form, classical music died in the 1800s. Jazz died in the 1960s. The Beatles died in the 1970s. They died when new creations ceased. Magic is suffering from lack of newness. It's like almost all of magic is nothing but cover bands. And so it is dying. A few are trying to keep it alive. But most people's connection to magic is the "cover band" type of magic, not new magic.

This fits right into specialization. General magicians are almost universally re-performing old work. All the new work being done, and all the life being given to magic, is being done by the specialists.


I don't agree. I consider myself a general magician. Good, creative magic is always rare. I think there is wonderful, creative magic being done now by young magicians. I think it is one of the best times for magic since the turn of the last century.
Topper2
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Quote:
On Aug 20, 2018, danaruns wrote:
I think magic is all but dead.


Yep, they've been saying that for centuries, but the cadaver refuses to lie down quietly in its grave. Just think, when Scot wrote his Discoverie of Witchcraft in the 1500's he wrote about a trick with coin of smaller dimension fitting into a shell of a larger coin and held in place there by a blob of wax, but four hundred years later someone forgot magic was dead and created the same trick using a magnet instead of wax.

Then again, of course classical music died, as you say, in the 1800s it's just a shame that they forgot to inform Holst when he wrote his Planet Suite, or Vaughan Williams when he wrote his Lark Ascending or Addinsell when he wrote the Warsaw Concerto, etc, etc.

But getting back to magic, since it is dead Shin Lim really ought to return the million bucks he earned for winning AGT as it was obviously obtained under false pretences, after all his performance was sooooo yesterday wasn't it?

Magic has always been dying and always been changing and always been coming back anew, and always will.
stevie c
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As a young lad I (vaguely) remember being a member of the 'Mad Hatter magic club' (late 70s early 80s??). Perhaps my perception is clouded by time and a child's memory, but there really didn't seem to be as much innovative material being produced then as there is now??

Lots of the rehashed and re-packaged 'bubble gum' material released (to great fanfare) by big dealers is obviously questionable, but taking mentalism as an example, some of the stuff being produced by people like AB, MM and PB is truly fantastic!!! Maybe, as Dana says, it's the specialists that are leading the way.

It's probably also worth saying that magic has already been studied for hundreds of years, and just as in any other discipline (science, maths, philosophy) it becomes more and more difficult to discover something TRULY original and unlike anything that has gone before. Surely (as long as due credit is given) refinement, development and improvement of existing concepts and principles are just as important??

As someone who also loves watching magic I just like to be entertained!!
Bob G
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Every creative field goes through periods of rapid and original development, alternating with times of consolidation and refinement. That's a vast generalization, based on my experience as a mathematician, my generalist's knowledge of science, and my love of classical music.


Most people have the misconception that all the interesting math was discovered a few thousand years ago. In reality, today is the golden age of mathematics. Centuries-old unsolved problems are being solved because we now have knowledge that we didn't have when the problems were first posed. The computer is another factor, of course, in the explosive development of math.


Topper2 is absolutely right about classical music. And we don't have to go as far back as Vaughn Williams and Holst, though I happen to be a big fan of Prokofiev, Hindemith, and other first-half-of-the-20th-century composers. The small city where I live has a good symphony orchestra that each year gives an award to a modern American composer. The composer is present, and gives a talk about one of his/her compositions before the orchestra plays it. Believe me, though even the geniuses are part of the milieu in which they compose, the compositions that we've heard at the symphony are beautiful and original.


Remember when they said the novel was dead? Smile Sorry -- I had to fall of my chair laughing after I wrote that last sentence. Watch the PBS Newshour Canvas series for a week or two and tell me the novel is dead.


I don't know enough about magic to have an opinion, except that I assume that, like any art, it never dies but goes through different phases due to internal and external factors.


But Dana, I know how passionate you are about magic. I'm surprised at your pessimism....?


Bob
bobinsdakota
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Being quite new to the hobby (I'm not making a career or living with magic) I find it fascinating and exhilarating learning new things.
Coins, mentalist, cards and other things may not be new to you, but they are to the newbie like me and the audience.
My first car 45 years ago had 4 wheels, an engine, and got me around......my car I have now is essentially the same thing but way safer, comfortable, & reliable.
I see magic the same way, nothing is new under the sun but the upgrades are awesome.
Have a great day everyone and thanks for all of the help and advice I've gotten here.
Bob
wulfiesmith
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You will be guided by why you are interested in magic in the first place.
And where you wish your magic to take you.

For example, you might wish to pursue card magic because you are a hobbyist and have a personal interest in cards for your own enjoyment.
However, you might perform magic to friends and family, who like coin and mentalism magic.

Consequently, you need to consider your options.
Always use something you perform well, and "add to it" ... your "specialisation" will find YOU ... you don't have to seek it out.

As you know, that will come with a few years of trial-and-error.

regards,
wulfiesmith
Bob G
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I really like this, wulfiesmith: Your specialization will find YOU. A lovely, cheering thought that is somehow related to the idea of having *fun* with hobbies.
wulfiesmith
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You betcha, Bob G ...
thanks for the kind words
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