The Ellusionist Forums are no longer active. Join us on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Results 1 to 8 of 8
+ Reply to Thread
  1. #1
    Raymond Singson's Avatar :: Lead Forum Manager
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA
    Posts
    1,498

    Technology in Mentalism

    Regarding technology, I find there are two groups of people in mentalism: those who enjoy change and incorporate it willingly into their work-- and those who feel that advances in technology convolute mentalism's purity. There are those who spend 1000s of dollars on secret devices to print out lottery tickets and locate hidden spikes, and there are those who laugh off and shun every new app on the iPhone.

    I'd like to offer my position in attempt to spark some discussion/debate.

    Times have changed immensely in the past 10 years, alone. I recently went to a shopping mall and saw 10-year-olds playing arcade games on cell phones. When I was 10, I'm pretty sure I was still eating dirt and setting ants of fire in my back yard. From sheer observation alone, I can't help but come to terms with the fact that technology is a part of the contemporary existence now. In many cases, it's so integrated that people take it for granted. I remember my mother used to write her shopping lists on a small notepad or the palms of her hand-- many moms now use the notepad feature on their phones. I remember buying maps and directions from local gas stations on long road trips; now people use their phones to not only use GPS... but also pay for gas along the way. It's crazy how dependent we've become on the technology that's been introduced to our lives.

    In my opinion... I think that gives us great opportunity. If people use phones, tablets, and computers so regularly, does it make them invisible? The reason I ask, is because I recently got heavily into billet-work. I understand the mentalist's appeal of having such a low-tech means of acquiring information that can't be attributed to technology, but I think it also simultaneously introduces an elephant into the room. Think about it... participant writes down a thought, and the performer reveals it. In my opinion, the flaw is there is two-fold: 1) the spectator wrote something down, and 2) a pen and slip of paper is just an awkward thing to introduce now. Stripped of presentation, the spectator can't help but acknowledge that something was up with the pen and paper... right? In a similar casual setting, I would rather have someone take out their own cell phone, and go through their own contact list, and think of the last friend who called them. Even a compromise of giving them my phone to think of a random name on my contact list would arguably be a stronger base than introducing a pen and paper. Is cancelling out technology as a potential solution to an effect more important than making a performance consistent and relevant with the audience?

    I recently witnessed a friend of mine have a waitress hold out her cell phone and merely think of the PIN code to unlock it. Nothing was typed in; nothing was prearranged-- he simply had her imagine the keypad and mentally submit her PIN code. He revealed it one digit at a time under the cleanest possible conditions. It was real mindreading. When he finally told me that he used an app that I disregarded years ago as a cheap, nonsensical method in mentalism, my jaw dropped and I was completely gobsmacked. That's when I started contemplating the strengths of incorporating technology into a form of entertainment where many performers deliberately write it off. When you treat technology with the same care and subtlety that you treat other forms of information-gathering in mentalism, I think it becomes more invisible than the traditional methods and techniques. I'm not fully saying billet work, forcing, and cold reading are obsolete by any means, but I do believe there's a prominent place for technology in today's performance of mentalism.

    RS.



  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    127
    A good and solid write-up of your idea.
    I like your idea of using "ordinary" devices, because they are nearly omnipresent and the suspicion level in the beginning is low.

    But (you certainly knew a "but" was coming) i think you overestimate the influcence of ominpresent devices and their invisibility for the most cases. It is true that using the spectators phone has a high impact, but as you are using technology a lot people might start to search for the "secret" in the technology (if that makes any sense to you).
    And i think the use of other peoples devices is quite limited, without actualy hacking/taking over these devices (i might be really wrong here). But i am more concerned that magic might be reduced (rightfully in this case) to the advanced technology or technological gimmicks. This concern might come from the fact that i like slight of hand and certain techniques of misdirection more than the use of gimmicks, but you should not forget that the more common something is, also knowledge about it is more readily available (even if there are misconceptions included).

    If you can incorparate something like the pin reveal you described into a act or routine, where it will not carry the whole weight of your performance, then usual rule for gimmicks ("effect for the spectator trumps anything else") applies. But using only electronics to do magic, especially if the programs/apps are up for grabs for everyone, is a unwise move in my opinion and could easily ruin reputation of the performer.


    Just my two cents
    T.
    vincit, qui se vincit

  3. #3
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
    :: Elite
    :: Gauntlet winner

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Fawn Grove, PA, USA
    Posts
    5,514
    I think you can use technology, sure. You just need to be aware of where suspicion can come from and head that off at the pass so to speak.

    For instance, any time you use a phone you either A) Have to use an app that people are familiar with, or B) Have to use someone else's phone. Personally I would say use someone else's phone whenever possible as I feel there will always be a suspicion if you use your own device. Simply because it's not theirs and they probably don't entirely understand how phones work - to most people, a smart phone is basically a magic device that can do anything if you know how to program it. Kind of like computers. Most people don't really understand technology and they are frequently grossly mislead by the portrayal of technology in movies and television. Just ask some random people what hacking looks like.

    I also think this is largely contextual. In my shows I have a bit of information written down but it makes sense. Why would I drag someone up on stage then have them take out their phone to write something down? It would make me look unprepared. No one questions why Derren Brown has people write things down on stage.

    But at an impromptu, close up performance I can totally see where you're coming from. Though I, personally, don't have things written down at all in those situations - using someone else's phone or iPod or whatever for mind reading could be easily justified.

    The danger is how easy it would be to forget the spectator's perspective and not account for the natural suspicion that can arise from introducing unfamiliar objects. As I said before, while they may know what an iPhone is - they probably also "know" (in some vague way) that there's apps that do crazy things and that people can hack a phone and program it to do even crazier things. The performer has to be aware of that and discount those possibilities in a subtle way before the spectator even thinks of them.
    http://www.ellusionist.com/boffo-pdf-by-christopher-thisse.html

    The HP Lovecraft of Bizarre Magic

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by T-Beta View Post
    But using only electronics to do magic, especially if the programs/apps are up for grabs for everyone, is a unwise move in my opinion and could easily ruin reputation of the performer.
    I am going to have to disagree with you. Have you ever heard of Marco Tempest? He is a performer who relies heavily on technology to dazzle his audiences. I highly recommend that you go on YouTube and find some of his videos.

    Now, back on topic. I personally do not believe the majority of technology should be used in mentalism. Yes, it is rather weird to introduce a slip of paper in a performance. But, Colin McLeod has a nice effect where he uses his business cards as the "billets". I think that if you use a business card as your "billet", you could eliminate most of your worries. I have seen a variety of cell phone effects. Most of them being mentalism like effects. From my experience, most people think that you are using some sort of an app. If you could use the spectators phone, you may eliminate that thought.

    I do think that there is some great potential in "technology magic". But, from what I have seen, most of it is not fit for mentalism.

    -JB

  5. #5
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
    :: Psychic Old Bear

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Northampton, MA
    Posts
    1,556
    I'm a traditionalist and an old fart at that e.g. I loathe the use of technology when it comes to it being the "prop" used in a routine. If I were a magician I'd have no problem with this but Mentalism done via an iPad is just a neat app and nothing other no matter how "entertaining" or "curious" the end effect or affect as it were, is on the audience. On the other hand, I do love some of the technology and its use when it comes to the covert side of things even though it too presents "issues" such as we've had for generations with carbon and magic slate type transfer -- it's not always reliable. I have a very expensive spirit bell that I feature in my Seance and as I've seen with so much technology it can be temperamental and not work when commanded to do so e.g. I've learned to not fully trust electronics and use very little.

    The argument when it comes to billets is a non-argument in that miracles are performed and religions built from that silling piece of paper and a pencil. Magicians and skeptics of trickery distrust this simple tool and so over-think it (I know that I did for years, until I learned how to use it properly). However, I still have reservations when it comes to Center Tear type routines because, unless they are framed exactly right, the technique is illogical. Ironically I've found methods I like (T-Rex and Dr. Bill's Tear in particular) in other words, all billet work can be justified as well as subliminal e.g. the biggest complaint (and I've heard this dozens if not hundreds of times from recovering magicians) is the very argument made by the OP of this thread; "It doesn't make sense to write something down. . . " That my friends, is simply because of your lack of faith, patience and practice; use the technique and you'll be far more impressed than you are with James Bond toys.

    Smash & Stab or any roulette routine can be made sure-fire without the dangers of technology (dangers in that it fails at the most inopportune times . . . look at all the impaled hands out there from the past decade.) What do you do when that LED doesn't light up or worse, gets discovered? (they do) This is why you must have redundancy of method -- things to do when "the thread breaks" as they say. That means not depending on 20th or 21st century technology in most cases.

    Yes, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here but I (and hundreds of working pros) have our reasons for holding to this more conservative position.
    Help Me Get to Doomsday 2015 -- www.gofundme.com/doomsday2015 --

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    127
    Quote Originally Posted by James Brady View Post
    I am going to have to disagree with you. Have you ever heard of Marco Tempest? He is a performer who relies heavily on technology to dazzle his audiences. I highly recommend that you go on YouTube and find some of his videos.

    Now, back on topic. I personally do not believe the majority of technology should be used in mentalism. Yes, it is rather weird to introduce a slip of paper in a performance. But, Colin McLeod has a nice effect where he uses his business cards as the "billets". I think that if you use a business card as your "billet", you could eliminate most of your worries. I have seen a variety of cell phone effects. Most of them being mentalism like effects. From my experience, most people think that you are using some sort of an app. If you could use the spectators phone, you may eliminate that thought.

    I do think that there is some great potential in "technology magic". But, from what I have seen, most of it is not fit for mentalism.

    -JB
    Thank you for your recommendation, i will look for this performer.

    Technology per se isnīt bad in a performance, i just wanted to mention, that if you ONLY rely on technology you might get into problems (Craig already mentioned, that technology might fail at the worst time, while a classic method would still work). I am sure that a good performer will have a backup plan while using his technology, just like you might prepare your set for the failure of a gimmick.

    And i am sure that there are people out there, that will do excatly what i worry about and still have success. Never doubted that, perhaps i voiced my own worries a little bit to loud.
    vincit, qui se vincit

  7. #7
    Steerpike's Avatar :: Moderator
    :: Shadowlander

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Zombietown, USA
    Posts
    4,128
    WARNING: My first paragraph is going to be a pedantic bit of me lording my mastery of the English language over everyone.

    Technology doesn't exclusively refer to electronics, mind. Paper is technology in that it is applied science to create a device that helps us accomplish a task. And it stuck around for millennia because it works and we have yet to create an economic alternative that can totally replace it. At some point we will, though the odds of that happening in our lifetimes are not certain.

    But before anybody thinks I'm one of those contemptible Luddites, I totally love modern tech. In fact, I'm saving up to be able to put a down payment I hope next year on a Tesla Model S. Among the many reasons I want one is that they're very low maintenance because the use of an AC induction motor as opposed to an internal combustion engine means that there are fewer moving parts, and thus fewer things that can break or go wrong.

    Segue! And that's one reason why I don't use much if any modern tech in my shows. The fewer moving parts, the more control I can maintain over the show and concentrate on my audience as opposed to my paraphernalia. Show me a better way of doing things and I'll give it a shot. But for now, using my business cards instead of a smart phone has too many advantages to switch.
    Steel City's Magnificent Mentalist
    http://alexandervornoff.com

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    13
    At the end of the day, people are going to have their own preferences. But, I think most of us can agree that, as of right now, technology and mentalism will probably not mix. Maybe one day that will change.

    -JB

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Recognition Program
WELCOME TO MAGIC. PERFORM LIKE NEVER BEFORE.

At Ellusionist, we have one goal: to give you the power to perform magic beyond belief. We want to make you the life of any party. We want to make you into a performer. Composed of 12 individuals, we barely sleep, and we will do anything necessary to bring you the best magic, the best talent, the best training and playing cards possible.


We manufacture many of our own magic supplies, tricks, effects, and custom playing cards. We strive to create the very best magical products the world has ever seen. We work with the United States Playing Card co and have produced 14 lines of playing card decks that are repeatedly acclaimed by top industry pros and magic enthusiasts all over the world.


Đ 2001-2014 Ellusionist.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Toll Free: 1-866.244.2426 or International 1.415.459.4945


Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.6
Copyright © 2017 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.