Archive for November, 2014

FOUR POINTS: Add holiday magic to your magic with these ideas

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

There’s holidays, and then there’s the holidays.

Most countries have one or two days where everyone goes whole hog with celebration, but the end of November usually brings an entire month of excitement, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and more. The excitement changes us a bit, gets us thinking about the upcoming celebrations, gifts, decorations and more.

The holidays change us. But how do they change our magic?

Does your ambitious card routine go from being about Houdini to Santa always popping out of a chimney? Do you wear more Christmas colors to your gigs? Does your coin box get wrapped in wrapping paper with a bow? Or maybe your performance character doesn’t have room to stretch out into a holiday theme?

Granted, most of you are in the midst of a season full of gigs, so you have already considered those things. If you haven’t, though, it’s never too late. Here are four areas to consider whether a little holiday magic should be part of your magic.
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FOUR POINTS: This is why AI will never make better magic tricks

Monday, November 17th, 2014

So you saw that story about how a computer designed a magic trick, and it made you give up magic, right? Seeing that a computer is capable of devising a trick that fools laymen and magicians alike, you threw down your deck of cards, completely gave up on your idea of combining a glide and a cop and went back to browsing listicles involving cats and Emma Watson?

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

The report about researchers from Queen Mary University of London touts that researchers programmed a combination of the mechanics of a jigsaw puzzle, the method of a mind-reading card trick and results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks. From that, the computer came up with some variants. Able to process a larger amount of variants, one of the co-creators of the project said that the amount of variants “keeps audiences guessing.”

Most of you probably caught on that one of the tricks is more of a puzzler, and the other is mathematical. Probably didn’t leave you feeling all that threatened, and you went back to practicing your table faro shuffle. Still, there might have been a seed of doubt — is this just a harbinger of things to come? Will AI progress to the point where we can get fooled by machines? Is this the beginning of technology changing magic?

We feel your pain, and we’re here to assure you that magic will be fine. We may eventually be enslaved by hopefully benevolent robot overlords who at least give us sme food before they use poisonous gases to poison our — you know. But they will never fool us with magic tricks. Here’s why:  (more…)

Ollie Mealing: Creative progress requires pursuit of these two elements

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, is a consultant for Derren Brown and created some of magic’s most-buzzed about videos on the Internet. On a break, he got a chance to check in about the key process behind making creative progress, and learning how to unlock the creative spark that leads to original ideas.

Everybody has goals they wish to progress towards, but hope and luck are no basis for a strategy — achievement requires knowledge.

At the heart of progress is information. When we acquire information we strengthen our knowledge and therefore gain progress towards discovering how we can achieve our goal — developing a strategy that allows us to regularly increase and practice our knowledge is the key to continual progress.

So if we regularly need information to progress, then we need to know how to reliably obtain it.

For that, in my mind, we’re reliant upon a combination of inspiration and motivation, or in other words, ideas worthy of acting upon. The potency of inspiration affects the consequent feeling of motivation, when the desire to fulfil an idea feels significant, motivation takes over and spurs us on with an abundance of energy.

As beneficial as this is, it blinds from considering every idea as being worthy of acting upon, which we must do if we’re to discover their true worth. Providing we act on our ideas they will always provide us with new information. It’s this recurring insight that allows us to build up our knowledge and create new, wiser ideas, which promotes the cycle’s continuance and strength.

Progress requires information which results from acting on ideas — you need to pursue something in order to learn from it.

So how can we enable ideas to emerge?

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