Advertisement

Vanishing Technology: Transparency of Media in Stage Magic

  • Katharina Rein
Chapter
Part of the Avant-Gardes in Performance book series (AGP)

Abstract

Stage magicians of the nineteenth century seized upon newest technologies, materials, and inventions, combining mechanization, romantic wonder, and techniques of the body. Rein argues that the disappearance of any means facilitating the illusions is an essential characteristic of stage conjuring. They are negated in favour of the created effect, which, in turn, is emphasized. Similar to several media theoreticians’ argument that media have a tendency to disappear behind the message they transmit, magicians’ media disappear behind the effect they create. This disappearance is the very basis of any grand illusion. As a media dispositif, the magician’s stage thus reflects its own media usage. By focusing on the iconic stage illusion “Vanishing Lady” this chapter analyses this central quality of conjuring with regard to other selected examples from its Golden Age.

References

  1. Benjamin, Walter. 2008. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproductibility. In The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproductibility, and Other Writings on Media, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, and Thomas Y. Levin, 19–55. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  2. Castle, Terry. 1988. Phantasmagoria. Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie. Critical Inquiry 15 (1): 26–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caveney, Mike. 2009. The Masters of the Golden Age. In Magic, 1400s–1950s, ed. Noel C. Daniel, 338–397. Cologne: Taschen.Google Scholar
  4. Charvet, David. 1997. Twins. Magic: An Independent Magazine for Magicians 6 (10): 56–63.Google Scholar
  5. Coppa, Francesca. 2008. The Body Immaterial. Magicians’ Assistants and the Performance of Labor. In Performing Magic on the Western Stage. From the Eighteenth Century to the Present, ed. Francesca Coppa, Lawrence Hass, and James Peck, 85–106. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Devant, David. 1931. My Magic Life. London: Hutchinson & Co. Ltd.Google Scholar
  7. During, Simon. 2002. Modern Enchantments. The Cultural Power of Secular Magic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Fechner, Christian. 2002. La Magie de Robert-Houdin. Les Secrets des Soirées Fantastiques. Vol. 3. Boulogne: Editions F.C.F.Google Scholar
  9. Hoffmann, Professor. 1877. Modern Magic. A Practical Treatise on the Art of Conjuring. London/New York: George Routledge and Sons.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 1890. More Magic. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Kern, Stephen. 2003. The Culture of Time and Space, 1880–1918. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Krämer, Sybille. 1998. Das Medium als Spur und als Apparat. In Medien, Computer, Realität. Wirklichkeitsvorstellungen und Neue Medien, ed. Sybille Krämer, 73–94. Frankfurt on the Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  13. Luhmann, Niklas. 1997. Die Kunst der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  14. Maskelyne, Nevil, and David Devant. 1911. Our Magic. The Art in Magic, the Theory of Magic, the Practice of Magic. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. McLuhan, Marshall. 2010. Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Mersch, Dieter. 2004. Medialität und Undarstellbarkeit. Einleitung in eine ‘negative’ Medientheorie. In Performativität und Medialität, ed. Sybille Krämer, 75–95. Paderborn: Fink.Google Scholar
  17. Robertson, Etienne Gaspard. 1985. Mémoires recréatifs, scientifiques et anecdotiques d’un physicien-aéronaute. Vol. 1. Langre: Café, clima.Google Scholar
  18. Silverman, Kenneth. 1996. Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe’s Eclipsing Sensation, World’s Handcuff King & Prison Breaker – Nothing on Earth Can Hold Houdini a Prisoner!!! New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, Wally. 2015. Technologies of Stage Magic. Simulation and Dissimulation. Social Studies of Science 45 (3): 319–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Steinmeyer, Jim. 2005. Hiding the Elephant. In How Magicians Invented the Impossible. London: Arrow.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2006. Art and Artifice. In Art & Artifice and Other Essays on Illusion. Concerning the Inventors, Traditions, Evolution & Rediscovery of Stage Magic, 7–47. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Whaley, Bart. 2007. The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic 1584–2007. Lybrary.com.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bauhaus-University WeimarWeimarGermany

Personalised recommendations