Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Creating A Sense Of Unreality

When a magician performs, no matter how good he is, no matter how artfully he creates the illusion of the impossible, those watching ultimately will conclude that what they witnessed was just a trick. If you change the context by removing the magician from the picture, by having some inexplicable thing happening to the ordinary man on the street, the magic is magnified, and those who’ve witnessed the inexplicable act are unable to easily dismiss what they’ve seen. They experience wonder in its purest most primal form and entertain the idea that real magic might exist after all.

The above summarizes what the Magic Anarchist site was all about. It was a combination of magic and guerilla street theater, with the magician playing the part of someone to whom the impossible was happening. It was a performance style I started exploring way before T.H.E.M came along, and was inspired by both a desire to inject a feeling of unreality into the magic I was doing and a fascination with poetic terrorism.

I was reminded of this because I mentioned the Magic Anarchist site in the previous post. I miss the site, mostly the free exchange of ideas we had in the forum – I was lucky enough to have some very creative people as members. We were concerned with not only engaging in Magic Anarchy but ways to make our straight magic performances more powerful. Besides a lot of attention to visual mentalism, we focused quite a bit on creating a sense of unreality by subtle means.

A very simple idea that I mentioned there, and still sometimes do, involves nothing more complicated than putting some folded up napkins in the heels of your shoes. Imagine going to a party, either to do walk around or as a guest, and showing up with the napkins in your shoes so you’re an inch or so taller. You mingle; have a drink, do a trick or two. Then you excuse yourself, go to the restroom, remove the napkins and throw them in the trash. You return to the party and what’s great is they’ll notice the difference but won’t be able to quite place what’s changed. They get this low level sense that something’s strange but can’t quite pinpoint what.

Others suggested wearing colored contacts and secretly changing them and having a tattoo that moves from one arm to the other. There were many more that I can’t remember. The main thing is that the change be subtle enough that they can recognize it but can’t detect it.

I like the idea of a magician being a mysterious figure, and small strategies like this help create an aura of mystery.

Anyway, just something I thought I’d throw out there. God, it really makes me miss that site. See you next time.


Juan said...

What happen to Magic Anarchist?

Sound like a pretty good idea, there´s no material left?

Jim Coles said...

I was getting free web space from a fellow for the site. We had a disagreement and he went in and pulled it with no warning. On top of that, I was having some health and personal problems. So I just said to hell with it and left the Internet for a year.

I actually do have most of the material, although the stuff from the forum is gone forever. I may end up posting some of it here.

black_ace666 said...

hi jim
looooooong time no talk
i was a member of the magic anarchist
under the name i used here
not sure if you would remember me
i too am really missing that forum
when it went
so did my excitement for magic
and pushing for new material

if you do have any of the material from the site left i would love to see some of it
you can contact me at my url or myspace

Anonymous said...

jim i dont know if you still follow this link, im a magician and would like to do some magicial anarchy stuff could i get your info

Anonymous said...

sorry my info is pyromagician420@gmail if you still have the info for magicial anarchy