Magic (sometimes referred to as stage magic to distinguish it from paranormal or ritual magic) is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means. These feats are called magic tricks, effects, or illusions.
One who performs such illusions is called a magician or an illusionist. Some performers may also be referred to by names reflecting the type of magical effects they present, such as prestidigitators, conjurors, mentalists, or escape artists.
Categories of effects
There is discussion among magicians as to how a given effect is to be categorized, and disagreement as to what categories actually exist—for instance, some magicians consider "penetrations" to be a separate category, while others consider penetrations a form of restoration or teleportation. Some magicians today, such as Guy Hollingworth and Tom Stone have begun to challenge the notion that all magic effects fit into a limited number of categories. Among magicians who believe in a limited number of categories (such as Dariel Fitzkee, Harlan Tarbell, S.H. Sharpe), there has been disagreement as to how many different types of effects there are. Some of these are listed below.
- Production: The magician produces something from nothing—a rabbit from an empty hat, a fan of cards from thin air, a shower of coins from an empty bucket, a dove from a pan, or the magician him or herself, appearing in a puff of smoke on an empty stage—all of these effects are productions.
- Vanish: The magician makes something disappear—a coin, a cage of doves, milk from a newspaper, an assistant from a cabinet, or even the Statue of Liberty. A vanish, being the reverse of a production, may use a similar technique, in reverse.
- Transformation: The magician transforms something from one state into another—a silk handkerchief changes colour, a lady turns into a tiger, an indifferent card changes to the spectator's chosen card.
- Restoration: The magician destroys an object, then restores it back to its original state—a rope is cut, a newspaper is torn, a woman is sawn in half, a borrowed watch is smashed to pieces—then they are all restored to their original state.
- Teleportation: The magician causes something to move from one place to another—a borrowed ring is found inside a ball of wool, a canary inside a light bulb, an assistant from a cabinet to the back of the theatre, a coin from one hand to the other. When two objects exchange places, it is called a transposition: a simultaneous, double teleportation. A teleportation can be seen as a combination of a vanish and a production.
- Escape: The magician (an assistant may participate, but the magician himself is by far the most common) is placed in a restraining device (i.e. handcuffs or a straitjacket) or a death trap, and escapes to safety. Examples include being put in a straitjacket and into an overflowing tank of water, and being tied up and placed in a car being sent through a car crusher.
- Levitation: The magician defies gravity, either by making something float in the air, or with the aid of another object (suspension)—a silver ball floats around a cloth, an assistant floats in mid-air, another is suspended from a broom, a scarf dances in a sealed bottle, the magician hovers a few inches off the floor. There are many popular ways to create this illusion, including Asrah levitation,Balducci levitation, Looy's Sooperman, and King levitation. The flying illusion is often performed by David Copperfield and more recently by Peter Marvey (who may or may not be using a technique similar to that of David Copperfield). Harry Blackstone's floating light bulb, in which the light bulb floats over the heads of the public, is also spectacular.[peacock term]
- Penetration: The magician makes a solid object pass through another—a set of steel rings link and unlink, a candle penetrates an arm, swords pass through an assistant in a basket, a saltshaker penetrates the table-top, a man walks through a mirror. Sometimes referred to as "solid-through-solid".
- Prediction: The magician predicts the choice of a spectator, or the outcome of an event under seemingly impossible circumstances—a newspaper headline is predicted, the total amount of loose change in the spectator's pocket, a picture drawn on a slate.
Many magical routines use combinations of effects. For example, in "cups and balls" a magician may use vanishes, productions, penetrations, teleportation and transformations as part of the one presentation.