the process is the artwork

Confessions of a Conjuror

“A magician could easily enough create the illusion of an object picking itself up, playing itself or being thrown into the air, and an audience would perhaps be amused but no doubt presume wires or the usual trickery. Far more unnerving is to be denied the ability to see the animation, and instead only to hear it: now our imagination plays with us; we imagine the impossible. The closing of the curtain may be the only way of hiding the prosaic method of the trick from the audience, but it also, conversely, can create the necessary magic for it to be unforgettable theatre. When the curtain closes, we are in the realm of The Unknown, and something primal stirs us. This taps us into a truth missed by most magicians; that when we watch a magical performance, we are still hoping to relate to it on a human level, and that the presentation process in one form or another is vital for us to connect with it. Process may be based in a struggle (and therefore drama), or whimsy, or anything in between, but without it there are only puzzles offered for solutions. The Cabinet is powerful because it pulls all focus towards the process at the same time as it hides it with the front curtain. It flaunts process, and forces the spectator to speculate madly from moment to moment what could be happening, and to watch, alert and wide-eyed, in case he spots anything that confirms the suspected culpability of the medium”

– In Derren Brown: Confessions of a Conjuror.

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