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Joe Atmore
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Dunninger made his reputation during a time where radio was the frontrunner medium and Kreskin was a pioneer in television.


Though of course Dunninger did utilize the medium of radio,he was actually the pioneer of television mentalism using many of the technological advances that were then available such as remotes, split screens and of course all live broadcasts (except for his 1968 series). And this was from 1948 through the late 1950s - far earlier than Kreskin. And all the early series were on major networks and not syndicated.
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Joe Atmore
International Artists Consultant Uri Geller's Phenomenon TV Series;
PEA Bob Haines Memorial Award;
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Synesthesia
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On 2013-09-23 13:00, DynaMix wrote:
I think perceived as real in today's time isn't a great course of action IMO. Better to play to the audience's intelligence and just not address whether you are real or not, leave it up to them. If directly asked, answer with the well established variety of answers people like Banachek and DB have provided.

At some point if you pretend to be real, you are gonna get embarassed by today's intensely internet driven culture. Even Derren had to respond to famous op eds in the UK media denouncing him for pretending to be a master of influence and all that. He responded brilliantly I thought.


Indeed. In fact, I think the desire to be perceived as real is contradictory to the desire to have mentalism flourish as a popular art form. As magic entered the popular consciousness, the basic principles behind how it's done became pretty much common knowledge -- nobody really believes magicians are able to bend the laws of the physical universe, and indeed (if you take the longer historical view) awareness of magical methods grew alongside knowledge of the physical universe's limitations. In a weird way, magic is thus closely connected to science -- and we see that in the huge overlap between the magic and skeptic communities, headed up by folks like Randi, P&T and Banachek. But of course, many of those people's greatest exposes have been related to mentalism, and while Banachek hides the specifics of his methods from the audience, Randi is often somewhat less discrete (a controversial choice to be sure).

In this climate, it seems like there are three courses a breakout popular mentalist could follow:

1) "The next Uri Geller" -- making serious explicit claims of real psychic powers. Given the massive conflict between believers and skeptics, this performer would likely be relegated to the world of Sylvia Brown and John Edwards. Even if they were less exploitative and more entertaining, I'd personally consider their success ethically questionable at best, and either way this would certainly make mentalism an unpopular (and indeed despised) art form among the skeptic, scientific and generally non-believing communities. I don't think the "psychological" approach makes much of a difference if the performer is making explicit outlandish claims about the power of suggestion and non-verbal communication, either -- it's just as misleading about the capabilities of the mind.

2) "The mental magician" -- this is what a lot of mentalists dread. This is the performer who popularizes mentalism by making it identical to magic. This is the performer who completely strips psychology and suggestion from mentalism and delivers it as a series of magic tricks wholly dependent on slights and gimmicks. The real tragedy here is that it would make mentalism a lot less fascinating and creative, and a great art form could be lost to history.

3) "The Banachek approach" -- I've yet to hear an explanation for a mentalist's abilities that I find more personally satisfying on both the intellectual and ethical level than Banachek's "five senses to create the illusion of a sixth", and his list of methods that includes "magic" but is followed by the statement that he won't give more detail about which methods are used where and how. To me, this seems like the best choice going forwards, and the only way for mentalism to become popular while retaining a healthy amount of mystique and not starting a war with the communities who I think would very much enjoy mentalism if they didn't see it as an opponent to rationalism and science. But nevertheless, the growth of mentalism along this path would mean ultimately giving up any true claims to supernatural powers -- it would become common knowledge that mentalism involves sleights and gimmicks to a greater degree than even the most reserved psychological patter tends to suggest. In general, everyone would know that mentalism is an illusion -- and I know a lot of mentalists (whose opinions carry much more weight than mine!) don't want that. But, I'm not sure anything else is compatible with the desire to see mentalism become more popular.
Greg Arce
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All valid points. As I said, it's going to take someone who comes up with a new way of presenting effects on TV. Blaine's style of showing mostly spectators reactions was new and had never been done that way before That's what made his show stand out. It wasn't the fact that he was doing double lifts and ACR and the like. Of course, after that success we had the onslaught of lemmings who tried to copy the exact style and presentations and editing techniques.

Someone will come along with a whole new take on how to impress the viewing audience. A whole new style. A "why didn't I think of that" idea. And then the clone army will come out in force to repeat that new process.

All we can do is wait. It will happen... eventually. Every so often someone comes out with a fresh new idea... unfortunately, ripe for the picking from many others. Just wait.

Greg
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Mindpro
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[quote]On 2013-09-23 13:32, Synesthesia wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-09-23 13:00, DynaMix wrote:
"The Banachek approach" -- I've yet to hear an explanation for a mentalist's abilities that I find more personally satisfying on both the intellectual and ethical level than Banachek's "five senses to create the illusion of a sixth".


Just for the record that is not original to Banachek as he'll be the first to tell you.

The problem is it is just that that clouds the water. Is it real is it not? Is it magic, is it not? It's great t create question or even as a diversion or type of disclaimer, but what does it really say?

To me this says a lot to end up saying absolutely nothing. For mentalism to appeal on a mass, commercial level, it can't be cloudy to audiences. Since people want to believe mentalisn to be real, I think that it therefore needs to be "real mentalism".
Synesthesia
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On 2013-09-23 13:47, Mindpro wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-09-23 13:32, Synesthesia wrote:
"The Banachek approach" -- I've yet to hear an explanation for a mentalist's abilities that I find more personally satisfying on both the intellectual and ethical level than Banachek's "five senses to create the illusion of a sixth".


Just for the record that is not original to Banachek as he'll be the first to tell you.

The problem is it is just that that clouds the water. Is it real is it not? Is it magic, is it not? It's great t create question or even as a diversion or type of disclaimer, but what does it really say?

To me this says a lot to end up saying absolutely nothing. For mentalism to appeal on a mass, commercial level, it can't be cloudy to audiences. Since people want to believe mentalisn to be real, I think that it therefore needs to be "real mentalism".


I don't think it says "nothing" though -- it says one very important thing: I am not doing anything that cannot be explained, or anything you're not also fundamentally capable of doing. It's just not offering the explanation itself -- but that's okay, even good, because it's actually what prevents people from needing to explain it. If someone claims supernatural or extraordinary powers, someone's going to want to examine it closely -- to either explain it with current scientific knowledge or, failing that, study it to expand scientific knowledge. Claiming supernatural powers is, to my mind, asking to be debunked.

But when you simply admit to creating illusions for the sake of entertainment, as is generally the case with magic, there's no longer any motivation to find an explanation other than curiosity. And yes some curious people will seek to learn more (and some will go on to take up the art) but nobody will feel duty-bound to that cause. The vast majority of people will be happy to know things can be explained, and that security allows them to offer a willing suspension of disbelief and go along for the ride. Maybe that's not quite as fun as making audiences genuinely and permanently question their conceptions, but I think it's (a) more ethical and (b) again, probably the only realistic balance if we're talking about mentalism becoming a highly popular art form.
Mindpro
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Yes, but the part of "...to create the illusion of a 6th sense" was more the part I was referring to. So it's not a 6th sense (which has long been what many psychic or mentalist performers try to project), so what is it? Just tricks to appear as such?

I guess I never care for the word "illusion", that's a magician's word to most people. While I still really don't care for it, I would change it to "perception", which to me have many more validities.
Synesthesia
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On 2013-09-23 14:46, Mindpro wrote:

so what is it? Just tricks to appear as such?


Well... yes. I mean, it is, right? They include beautiful, brilliant approaches to trickery that manipulate perception and behaviour using tiny subtleties of language and presentation rather than just gimmickry, but they are (semantics aside) ultimately tricks.

Again though, it's not that I don't understand the desire to see mentalism remain something more mysterious -- I just can't see how that's compatible with a surge in its popularity. It seems to me like it's one or the other.
Raymond Singson
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It would be interesting to see someone succeed at keeping everything completely ambiguous. For instance, imagine a televised special focusing on practical life hacks to live life more productively, or a show highlighting certain qualities of mankind or human behavior, both good and bad-- all hosted by an individual that does surreal and amazing things but never defines what or how he does anything at all. In a sense, I feel like a lot of Derren Brown's latest television miniseries (Apocolypse; Hero at 30,000 Feet, etc)have been like that, but he had to build up to that persona to make it work. I'm curious to see how it would/could play if an unknown talent came out cold like that here in the States. What would people find more intriguing? The mentalism material or the overall message/agenda that the performer illustrates through mentalism? All cleverly doing so without ever directly associating with magic or mentalism at all...

Out of curiosity... do any other mentalists already come to mind as potentially having "a shot" at breaking through to today's media audiences? Perhaps not image-wise, but material that resonates with people today? Or interestingly, even vice-versa-- do any performers come to mind that aren't necessarily doing anything new but have the image and appeal that seem to work/click for today's audiences?

RS.
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Michael Zarek
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In this climate, it seems like there are three courses a breakout popular mentalist could follow:

1) "The next Uri Geller"

2) "The mental magician"

3) "The Banachek approach"


This is rather limited thinking, especially that I don't think second and third can really become famous and popular for general public. People don't want to see a magician with identity crisis nor someone who tells them santa claus isn't real. I don't speak of myself but about general public, I love seeing banachek and other performers work but that kind of mentalism (or pretty much any right now) isn't for everybody, and especially for legions of americans sitting in front of tv.

The next Uri Geller could work but it's again a trouble of trying to prove everybody real. And afterall , these are all old ideas, something new and fresh would be someone who is a bit like Geller but diffrent. It might be even impossible in this day but fame would be reserved for someone who can achive credibility without offending legions of people who may just choose to not belive. Someone who doesn't just think only of himself but actually does it for people, and that's the biggest problem right now. Looking at psychics now (becouse they are similiar to mentalist wheter you like it or not), almost all (well, all that I know of) famous psychic are scumbags, they just want to make themself look good instead of helping other people and that's why everyone tries to prove they're not real, if someone was to claim a possibility of having psychic powers and use them for actual good, then he would probably have less of a problem with sceptincs.
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DynaMix
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Synesthesia, aboslutely LOVE your first post. Hit the nail on the head I think.

I too, think the "sixth sense" approach is the only one that can work. Never directly address methodology, but ultimately let people know that this is entertainment. Maybe interweave examples of "true" mental phenomena, and follow them up with more traditional mentalism routines, almost like you're "teaching the audience" what the mind is capable of, or how it works.

Off the top of my head, something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfA3ivLK_tE

and then you follow it with a routine that somehow plays off that (but is, ultimately, a trick).

Not a great example, I know, its probably an approach that's been done before...but I guess what I'm saying is play up to the intelligence of your audience, involve them, don't speak down to them.
Scott Soloff
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In order for a show to be successful it is neccesary to be presented as real.

People want to believe and that is what should be delivered.

Best,


Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Synesthesia
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On 2013-09-23 17:24, Scott Soloff wrote:
In order for a show to be successful it is neccesary to be presented as real.

People want to believe and that is what should be delivered.

Best,


Scott


Now that's "rather limited thinking"
AttnPls
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I for one DO think it could be a success if handled correctly. I would love to do that kind of show...
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