Part 4.jpg

How do you relate ideas with magic effects? I think that the first reference I ever read on this matter that made a profound impact on me was in Henning Nelms’s Magic and Showmanship. He discusses the desired effect and how much stronger the experience of the audience is when the magic effect is directly connected to something the audience proposes or something that happens spontaneously in the moment. Although in an informal situation that may be really powerful, when planning a formal performance, the motivation to perform any piece should be part of the show and not an external input (at least, in most cases).

Therefore, understanding the metaphor behind what is happening is a vital component of whatever the magician chooses to explore. Juan Tamariz’s mythical deck vanish is a perfect example of using the vanishing of a simple object to create the feeling of loss in the audience. But I feel what is more interesting is the opposite proposition. To start with the idea of what we want to achieve and then reverse engineer it to create the desired moment.

As an example, I can tell you that when I started to plan the act that eventually won the World Championship of Card Magic, I used this process. First, I thought about what I wanted the act to be about. In 10 minutes, it is harder to take the audience on a super intellectual and metaphorical journey, but it all boiled down to a simple sentence: “Imagination is more powerful than you can imagine.” This was the core idea, the idea that if we can imagine something, that if that image is strong, it can drive us to do impossible things.

I needed to tie this idea with an effect. What would be the effect? Something imagined would turn out to be real. In order to have this experience fully lived, I wanted the impossibility to not suffer from the idea being bigger than the moment: I wanted the impossibility to be bigger BECAUSE of the moment. So, a piece of white cardboard, signed by the spectator (reality), turned into the card the spectator merely named (imagination) ending up as a real signed card that never existed to begin with. This specificity helped to translate the idea into actions, fusing both worlds beautifully.

I feel the moment you have an idea, you can always dream of what magic moment would be perfect in which to express that idea. From that ideal vision, you start to play around using the tools that you know and searching for other new tools that can be helpful. It’s this constant equilibrium between what you want and what is possible that makes magic so appealing to me. Perfectly composing an unlimited world inside a limiting reality is the goal, and that can only be done little by little, moment by moment.

For each idea in the list, I find the perfect magical metaphor to go with it. It is time to start playing with the elements. 

Helder Guimaraes