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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Don't neglect body language (11 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dr Rick
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I've just read something by Tommy Wonder who argues against using "misdirection" as a term and suggests "direction" to another action is more accurate: specifically that we have to provide something more interesting to direct the spectator to - see Aus's post above

That's how I interpreted it anyway

Sounds simple but the moving object/focus of magician's vision or attention are efforts to direct, not misdirect

What do you reckon?
Pop Haydn
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Efforts to direct attention away from what and for what purposes? Doesn't the very purpose of directing attention "elsewhere" include the concept of misdirecting them from something that might aid their accurate observation? Is this just a way to avoid guiltiness?
Dr Rick
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I think the Tommy Wonder comment is a performance technique rather than anything ethical as such

Just an idea that in order to misdirect an intelligent audience you need to create something more interesting bevthat a movement, an action, a joke or whatever which justifies their attention

As a beginner that was my take home message
Pop Haydn
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I don't mean anything ethical. Some magicians indicate "guiltiness" in their body language. Perhaps the concept of "misdirection" exacerbates that as opposed to "direction." To me, it seems two sides of the same coin. If you look at it from the magician's point of view, he/she is misdirecting the audience's attention from something potentially revealing. From the spectator's point of view, he is being directed "to something" important.
Dr Rick
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Quote:
On Sep 7, 2017, Pop Haydn wrote:
I don't mean anything ethical. Some magicians indicate "guiltiness" in their body language. Perhaps the concept of "misdirection" exacerbates that as opposed to "direction." To me, it seems two sides of the same coin. If you look at it from the magician's point of view, he/she is misdirecting the audience's attention from something potentially revealing. From the spectator's point of view, he is being directed "to something" important.


Agreed, sir

It may seem obvious to some but the idea of ensuring there's a focus for attention was a useful tip for me, such as creating business with an empty shell closer to the spectator to side load "that one was full speed!"

(Sorry for the obvious analogy, Pop, but I'm a bit starstruck!)

Rick
Pop Haydn
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It is a very important concept, point of focus because it involves the whole question of motivation. Every move we make needs to be motivated in a way that makes sense to the audience.

It brings us back to body language. An expressive gesture is great motivation. If you are communicating something to the audience with your hands--gesturing without speaking, "Simple, right?" --then the intellectual and emotional content of that body language will overwhelm the spectator and often cover a cramped hand position, or a double lift. People are hardwired to look for meaning, and using expressive body language and facial expressions can cover a multitude of sins.

Pop
danaruns
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It's more than looking at the right hand when the coin is palmed in the left. We have to feel what we want the audience to know. Feelings of guilt -- as expressed earlier in this thread by Terrible Wizard -- or nervousness, or insecurity, or deceit will come through to the audience through involuntary micro-expressions. We have hundreds of tiny muscles that respond unconsciously to our own emotions and send a signal to other human beings, which are often invisible to the conscious mind. But they do hit the unconscious mind.

If you feel guilt, the audience will perceive something wrong, even if they can't identify it. And it's not just gross emotions. If you feel any kind of vague uneasiness about the coin palmed in your left hand -- such as not being confident in the move or fear that you'll be busted -- those same micro-expressions will communicate that to your audience, and they'll know something is up. They might not know specifically, but they will share your feelings and spoil the magical moment. Micro-expressions aren't necessarily small, either. They can affect your large motor muscles and overall appearance in very subtle ways.

Imagine your unconscious mind is a guy sitting in a control room looking at a TV screen for instructions. Whatever comes across that screen he interprets as an instruction and tries to make that come true. He has no judgment about whether it's good or bad, he just makes every vision come true. This is why you can walk back and forth along a 2x6 board all day long while it's lying on the ground, but suspend it between two tall buildings and it's almost impossible. Your fear of falling when it's up high comes across that TV screen, and the unconscious mind gets a message that falling is the goal, and tries to make it come true. Likewise, in magic, if you're nervous about exposing a move, the feeling will be interpreted by your unconscious mind as a goal to be met.

The solution is the actor's answer: you must feel what you want your audience to feel. You want the audience to believe the coin is in your right hand? You have to feel it and believe it's in your right hand. If you believe it, the unconscious mind will make your body act as if it is in the right hand, and the audience will believe it. If you send the right message to your unconscious mind, it will then send convincing signals to all the tiny muscles in your face and body, and those muscles in your body will send a hundred subtle messages to your audience about what to believe. So if we believe the magic, our audiences will, too.

Is this too hippy-dippy, new age, crystal worshipping, weird for you? Smile
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dr Rick
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Danaruns

Love it!

Rick
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Great thoughts, Danaruns, but hardly new or weird. Back in the late 50's-60's at the local Magic Circle, all of the "old guys" hammered us youngsters with "practice to automaticity."
There was no "buy today, perform tomorrow" motivation or acceptance. For example, one mentor volunteered to teach three of us "egg bag." For a week we had to carry an egg around with us
everywhere - taking it in and out of our pocket, transferring from hand to hand while doing every task - eating meals, getting dressed, taking a shower. When it came to learning sleights with the egg
such as palming, it was easy to move our hands and arms the same way with or without an egg. We became one with the egg.

I recall the early Al Schneider writings on preparing to do his Drop Vanish - of the hours to be spend on learning how to hold the receiving hand and "knowing" it held a coin when empty.
When you later drop the imaginary coin and the audience sees it fall it is because you see it fall and feel it land in your hand. Revolutionary? No.

In a 1932 manuscript I found, an amateur magician describes a double pseudo transfer of a coin leading to an incredible vanish. It is written as if every reader would know how to train the audience
to see the coin that was not there. Common places stuff in 1932.

Of course, those moves don't work on video so no one will learn them today.

How do we get magician wanna be's to "believe the magic?" How do we get a spectator taking a selfie to expect magic to occur?

I recall Henry Ford's quip - "if you think you can or you think you can't - you are probably right!"

Please keep posting such thoughts - maybe someone will listen.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
Aus
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Quote:
On Sep 9, 2017, danaruns wrote:
It's more than looking at the right hand when the coin is palmed in the left. We have to feel what we want the audience to know. Feelings of guilt -- as expressed earlier in this thread by Terrible Wizard -- or nervousness, or insecurity, or deceit will come through to the audience through involuntary micro-expressions. We have hundreds of tiny muscles that respond unconsciously to our own emotions and send a signal to other human beings, which are often invisible to the conscious mind. But they do hit the unconscious mind.

If you feel guilt, the audience will perceive something wrong, even if they can't identify it. And it's not just gross emotions. If you feel any kind of vague uneasiness about the coin palmed in your left hand -- such as not being confident in the move or fear that you'll be busted -- those same micro-expressions will communicate that to your audience, and they'll know something is up. They might not know specifically, but they will share your feelings and spoil the magical moment. Micro-expressions aren't necessarily small, either. They can affect your large motor muscles and overall appearance in very subtle ways.

Imagine your unconscious mind is a guy sitting in a control room looking at a TV screen for instructions. Whatever comes across that screen he interprets as an instruction and tries to make that come true. He has no judgment about whether it's good or bad, he just makes every vision come true. This is why you can walk back and forth along a 2x6 board all day long while it's lying on the ground, but suspend it between two tall buildings and it's almost impossible. Your fear of falling when it's up high comes across that TV screen, and the unconscious mind gets a message that falling is the goal, and tries to make it come true. Likewise, in magic, if you're nervous about exposing a move, the feeling will be interpreted by your unconscious mind as a goal to be met.

The solution is the actor's answer: you must feel what you want your audience to feel. You want the audience to believe the coin is in your right hand? You have to feel it and believe it's in your right hand. If you believe it, the unconscious mind will make your body act as if it is in the right hand, and the audience will believe it. If you send the right message to your unconscious mind, it will then send convincing signals to all the tiny muscles in your face and body, and those muscles in your body will send a hundred subtle messages to your audience about what to believe. So if we believe the magic, our audiences will, too.

Is this too hippy-dippy, new age, crystal worshipping, weird for you? Smile


I think there is a higher degree than even that. I feel the prescribed four levels of competency are probably the best gauge for learning anything in magic. Feeling something to be true in order to make something appear to be true is a conscious effort (and a valid one) and thus fits into the "Conscious Competence" stage of learning which to be fair is the minimum degree of where things should be in terms of a passable standard.

Where would you say you sit in most cases in your magic in the following competency stages?

Unconscious incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

Conscious incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

Conscious competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

I personally think that most competently performed magic happens at the "Conscious competence" stage and very few make it to "Unconscious competence" level of things.

Magically

Aus
John Long
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Great discussion!

I would like to learn of a pamphlet, if any, on this topic (I have "leading with your head", but what seems like some typos was frustrating).

What got me to this thread was an ad on body language:
https://www.lybrary.com/body-language-p-923999.html

and was wondering if anyone read it.

Personally, I can identify with the sentiments of the original poster - Early on, it was VERY awkward for me to say things that were not true - it created a type of internal dissonance for myself. Somehow, I got past that (but maybe my body language hasn't).

One thing that helped me appreciate the power of body language was when I had someone video tape me as I did Holy Moly. I leaned forward at the point where something is ditched while "rubbing" the hole through the spectators closed hand. At the time I thought the placement of my hands represented a very natural positioning for my self. BUT, what was more amazing to me was when I viewed the video - the camera panned to follow the active hand/rubbing, and the guilty hand was taken totally out of frame. I was amazed. I need to learned other aspects of body language.

John
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John Long
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The response to this was under-whelming Smile
Breathtaking Magic;
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Stephen Li
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Five Points in Magic by Juan Tamariz is a good reference book for learning body language
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