Illusion and Magic

Blog Posts

Replacement Family Available. No Questions Asked.

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Why suffer through the ups and downs of real relationships when you can have the perfect friend, husband or father for a fee? This is a stunning tale of hyper-normalization in Japan.


“How to Hire Fake Friends and Family”
by Roc Morin
The Atlantic
November 7, 2017

Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral.

His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.

Yuichi believes that Family Romance helps people cope with unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies in their lives. In an increasingly isolated and entitled society, the CEO predicts the exponential growth of his business and others like it, as à la carte human interaction becomes the new norm.

I sat down recently with Yuichi in a café on the outskirts of Tokyo, to discuss his business and what it means to be, in the words of his company motto, “more than real.” Read more.

Suburban Camouflage

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

All’s fair in war, (and the love of deceit) including manufacturing urban landscapes. The podcast 99 Percent Invisible has built its audience on the power of paying attention to details that most people don’t think about… or even know. From its blog comes this tale of an aircraft manufacturing facility concealed within a fake neighborhood in Seattle.


“Prop Town: The Fake Rooftop Suburb That Hid a Whole WWII Airplane Factory”
by Kurt Kohlstedt
99 Percent Invisible
November 3, 2017

Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing facilities were critical to the World War II efforts of Allied forces. But the unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor stoked fears of potential aerial assaults by Japanese forces. Some factories put up camouflage netting to disguise structures, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took things a big step further on top of the Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, crafting an entire faux neighborhood.

By the mid-1930s, Boeing’s old Plant 1 was becoming increasingly outdated. Interested in keeping the company local, an area truck driver offered to sell Boeing a large plot of land (for a nominal one-dollar fee) on which to build a new factory. Plant 2 was designed and erected to apply modern assembly-line technologies and speed up production.

This new complex grew and expanded, ultimately spanning 1.7 million square feet. It would come to facilitate the assembly of B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-29 Superfortresses, B-47 Stratojets, B-52 Stratofortresses and other aircraft through and beyond the war. Read more.

Sim Cities

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Illusion and Magic, Prank News, Pranksters

Photographer Gregor Sailer’s new book focuses on incredibly detailed, entirely uninhabited, completely fake urban landscapes.


“These Cities Might Look Real But They’re 100% Fake”
By Laura Mallonee
Wired
October 25, 2017

Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script; the occasional humvee or tank rumbling by. But you won’t find it anywhere near Mosul. It’s a stage set at Fort Irwin, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents.

“It’s a lonely place, full of buildings no one will ever live in,” says photographer Gregor Sailer. “It’s like a ghost city—the wind smashing the doors, blowing through the streets.”

Sailer captured Junction City and 21 other fake urban landscapes for his fascinating new book The Potemkin Village. They include a New York-themed town in Sweden built to test cars for road safety; a Russian city with elaborate facades disguising forlorn buildings; and a Dutch hamlet in China that tourists visit for a taste of Europe. “Sometimes they’re more real and other times they’re more an illusion,” Sailer says. “I’m jumping between these two worlds, and that’s what makes it exciting for me.” Read more.

The Best Trick Wins the War

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic, Political Pranks, Prank News, Propaganda and Disinformation, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Infaltable decoys come of age with military sleight of hand. [Thanks Peter M.]


“A New Weapon In Russia’s Arsenal – And It’s Inflatable”
by Andrew E. Kramer
October 12, 2016
The New York Times

russianmilitarydecoysDeep in the Russian countryside, the grass sways in a late-summer breeze. In the distance, the sun glistens off the golden spires of a village church. It is, to all appearances, a typically Russian scene of imperturbable rural tranquillity.

Until a sleek MIG-31 fighter jet suddenly appears in a field, its muscular, stubby wings spreading to reveal their trademark red star insignia. A few moments later, a missile launcher pops up beside it.

Cars on a nearby road pull over, the drivers gaping in amazement at what appear to be fearsome weapons, encountered so unexpectedly in this serene spot. And then, as quickly as they appeared, the jet and missile launcher vanish.

“If you study the major battles of history, you see that trickery wins every time,” Aleksei A. Komarov, the military engineer in charge of this sleight of hand, said with a sly smile. “Nobody ever wins honestly.” Read more.


Now You See the Louvre Pyramid, Now You Don’t

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Illusion and Magic

“JR at The Louvre” at Musée du Louvre, Paris from May 25 – June 28, 2016, presented by French Street Artist JR


This Summer, the Louvre’s Pyramid Will “Disappear”
By Erin Blakemore
Smithsonian.com
March 15, 2016

A French street artist promises a tantalizing trick of the eye

Louvre Pyramid

I.M. Pei’s grand pyramid brought controversy, modernity and a new entrance to the Louvre. But is it time for the pyramid to disappear? Kind of: As Henri Neuendorf reports for artnet News, a French artist will eliminate the pyramid through a mind-bending optical illusion this summer. Read the full story here.


How to Fakebook Your Vacation

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Media Pranks

Dutch Girl Fakes a Trip to South East Asia
by Will Jones
GapYear.com
September 9, 2014

Fakebooking taken to a new level on this ‘gap year’ in South East Asia

Fakebooking Your Vacation

If you’ve ever spent a rainy evening thumbing through your Facebook newsfeed glaring with scarcely controllable envy at the seemingly endless torrent of pictures posted by unbearably smug friends who are backpacking through some country with scenes so vibrant you wonder if the saturation setting on your screen is faulty, relax.

It could all be a backpack of lies.

For five weeks Dutch student Zilla van den Born subjected her Facebook friends to the above, claiming to be travelling around South East Asia, when in reality she had never left her home city of Amsterdam. She went to extraordinary lengths to perpetuate the illusion, which was fed to her friends and family alike. The only person who knew the truth was her boyfriend.

During her 42 day ‘break’ she did all the things you would expect of someone in her position.
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World’s Fastest Sex Change

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic

Criss Angel BeLIEve: Criss Rips Bodies Apart (On Spike)

Criss Angel BeLIEve

Watch the video:

Make-up Art To Die For

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Parody

Join Me In Death, by Ignacio Espejo on DeviantArt:


joinmeindeath-425

via BoingBoing

Fake Nature Footage

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic

From Joe King:


Nature scenes filmed in ‘controlled conditions’, BBC admits after cameraman says small animal footage was ‘faked’
by Liam O’Brien
Independent.co.uk
October 8, 2013

Doug Allen said the infamous Frozen Planet polar bear incident wasn’t the only specially-arranged shot on a BBC wildlife show

bbcnature-425

Scenes involving small mammals on the BBC’s flagship nature programmes were faked, according to a cameraman who worked on Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Frozen Planet.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Doug Allen claimed that filming animals “smaller than a baby rabbit” necessitates a specially set stage.

Following the claim, The BBC said animals were sometimes filmed in “controlled conditions” to accommodate the careful consideration of “animal welfare, health and safety, practical factors and the biological accuracy of the story”.

The corporation said such scenes were “recreated to be as close to the natural setting as possible”.

The biggest controversy surrounding faked footage came in 2011, when it emerged that Frozen Planet’s scenes of a polar bear and her newborn cubs were actually filmed in a zoo.

Sir David Attenborough defended the scenes at the time, saying that flagging up the fact that some parts of the programme were filmed in a controlled environment would “ruin” the atmosphere. (more…)

Unnatural Nature

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic

Pseudo-nature Photographers translated a Chinese article that analyzes the ethics of a certain form of macro nature photography, a large amount of which emanates from Indonesia. The original author is not known, however the content is riveting. Here’s a sampling of photos from the article.

frogsumbrellas

frogs1

frogs2

More photos here and here.

Related links:

A Fake Makes it to the Smithsonian’s Photo Contest Finalists, Scientific American

Macro Photography Ethics, sgmacro.blogspot.com

6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hype, Illusion and Magic

6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap
by Amanda Mannen
Cracked.com
August 12, 2013

200154-425

On some level, we all know that almost everything we see at the movies is bullshit, from the amount of bullets a person can take without dying to what the job of pizza delivery boy actually entails. Except documentaries. Documentaries are where we turn off the snark and open our minds to learn about distant lands, alarming realities, and how much McDonald’s a dude can eat.

However, it turns out that some of the most acclaimed documentaries ever are about as real as Borat.

Read the full story about Super Size Me, Waiting for “Superman”, Religulous, Searching for Sugar Man, Winged Migration & Nanook of the North!

Digital Beer You Can Actually Drink

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic

From Chris: At last, a sensible use of an iPad!


iPad Beer at Hofbraeuhaus with Simon Pierro


Patrick Hruby on Sports Conspiracy Theories

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Illusion and Magic

The Truth Is Out There: From The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery To The Olympics To Game-Fixing … Which Conspiracy Theory Can You Believe?
by Patrick Hruby
The Post Game
May 30, 2012

“You know,” says the magician, “it’s very easy to fix flipping a coin.” For instance: The tosses before football games. Turns out they’re totally riggable. Even with a straight coin. Con men know how. So does the magician, Richard Kaufman. He’s in his 50s, has dark, curly hair, works as the editor of Genii, the nation’s leading magic magazine. Specializes in card tricks. Only now, here in the sunlit kitchen of his suburban Washington, D.C. home, he’s talking tumbling coins.

Heads or tails. Even odds. As indifferent as the universe itself, like the flips that sent Lew Alcindor to the Milwaukee Bucks, Bill Walton to the Portland Trail Blazers, Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon to the Houston Rockets.

Unless …

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Dynamo Walking on Water

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Publicity Stunts

The Magician Dynamo Walks on Water:

Read more about this here.

Marco Tempest: A Magical Tale (with Augmented Reality)

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic

From TED TALKS about the role of the magician as storyteller, exploiting the way audiences think, and about why it’s fun to be fooled.


Marco Tempest spins a beautiful story of what magic is, how it entertains us and how it highlights our humanity — all while working extraordinary illusions with his hands and an augmented reality machine.

A magician and illusionist for the 21st century, Marco Tempest blends cutting-edge technology with the flair and showmanship of Houdini.

Related link:

  • iPhone Magic
  • , by Marco Tempest, July 7, 2007