Recently, I've been thinking a lot about our art. Not just what new tricks, books, or DVDs I should buy, but at the actual art. Things like, where is it taking us, how is it advancing, is it too open, is it too secretive? I'm going to explore these questions here, and hopefully it'll start some good conversations.
First off, there are a lot of people in our art... more than a lot of us could, or would want to, count. However, in relative comparison to other arts, like dancing, singing, and painting, there are very few who share our love of magic. Let's discuss these numbers a bit.
Some people think our art is too open... that anyone these days can go on the internet and "become a magician". I can see this, but will they truly be a magician if they just look up tricks on YouTube and other exposure-filled sites? No. Will those videos, or those who perform the effects from those videos truly hurt our art? In a way, yes. But for the most part, no, they will not.
Think about it. How many times have you actually had a spectator, in the middle of your performance, call you out saying, "I saw that on YouTube!" Odds are I have many of you struggling to find a memory that just isn't there.
Now think about how many new magicians we have. A relatively small amount these days. And when someone does ask us more experienced magicians where to start, and for some advice, we hole up and tell them to go buy books. I myself have done this before, but it's not right. We should welcome them into our art with open arms.
The only people really watching those videos are magicians. Bad ones at that, but ones that are too cheap to buy the material, yet still consider themselves "Gods with cards". We are a very small "brotherhood", and we are literally destroying our art from the inside.
Now, I think I've discussed that enough. Any further and it would be beating a dead horse. The next thing I want to talk about is presentation. Throughout the small number of new magicians we have in our art, there are even less who value the presentation of the effect as much as the more experienced magi do.
They fail to to realize that, yes, the effect may be great, fool-proof, "gets great reactions", but what is a trick without a magician? Recently I've been thinking about something. That without magicians... magic does not exist. Yes, there would still be gimmicks, tricks, DVDs, books, but without us to perform them... there would be no such thing as magic.
It's a sad thought, really, that as much as we focus on the tricks, we put so much effort into having the best Pass, or the smoothest Bottom Deal, that we put less and less thought into our presentations. Until we become boring drones with cool tricks. What fun is that?
I think we, as a whole, often forget that magic is not a competition to be better than your fellow magi, it is to entertain the lay! If you're better than somebody, and you realize it, don't rub it in their faces... help them out! They're never going to get any better if we don't help them. And there goes yet another magician who could be the next great in magic...
And now to my final question... how is our art advancing? Are we really getting anywhere? Sure, there are lots of new things on the market, new magic stuff... more things than I could possibly count. But is it a good thing? It gives us more to choose from, but the majority of the products haven't been thought through, field tested, and really planned out before being released.
With the internet and all the new technology developing around us, we tend to forget about the real shops... the people that we can always count on. Our local Brick 'n Mortar shops. We're quite literally putting them out of business by buying from stores like t11, Penguin, and Ellusionist. I am not saying this is a bad thing, as all those stores are fairly good. But what are we going to do if we lose our internet, and our local stores go out of business? We will be stuck... no new magic.
Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't seem like our art is really going anywhere. All the little guys, like your local restaurant or children's party magicians are helping our art immensely, but as much as they put us forward, people like Criss Angel and the YouTube are setting us back that much more.
Please, feel free to discuss anything I wrote here, as these are only the things that I have been feeling recently. Thanks for reading.
-Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it.