Illusion and Magic

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The Science of Magic

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The Science of Magic: Not Just Hocus-Pocus
November 1, 2009

Neuroscientists and Magicians Are Studying How Sleight of Hand Affects the Brain, and Its Potential to Diagnose Autism

image5483766g-200Las Vegas can be a magical place. It certainly is for Penn and Teller, who have been performing magic in their own Las Vegas theatre for almost eight years.

The house is packed every night – a testament to both Penn and Teller’s draw . . . and to the universal appeal of magic itself.

“What makes for a successful trick?” Blackstone asked Teller, who never says a word on stage. He broke his silence for our interview (but insisted that we not show his moving lips).

“The core of a successful trick is an interesting and beautiful idea,” he said, “that taps into something that you would like to have happen. One of the things we do in our live show is I squeeze handfuls of water and they turn into cascades of money. That’s an interesting and beautiful idea.

“The deception is really secondary,” Teller said. “The idea is first, because the idea needs to capture your imagination.” (more…)


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Sniff is a project by Karolina Sobecka with software design by Jim George. Sniff is a 3D interactive dog projected against a shop window in New York. He’s just a computer-generated rendering but he’s got personality – he reacts to your gestures, follows you around, and presented with a group, chooses favorites.


CIA Magic: The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception

Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Propaganda and Disinformation

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

How to make someone disappear into thin air? No problem. Take in an evening of CIA magic…

CIA Magic: The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception
Tuesday, 20 October; 6:30 pm
International Spy Museum, Washington DC

“Magic and Intelligence are really kindred arts.”
— John McLaughlin, former deputy director of central intelligence

2009_10_20_magic-200In the early days of the Cold War, the CIA initiated a top-secret program, code-named MKULTRA, to counter Soviet mind-control and interrogation techniques. Realizing that its officers and agents might need to clandestinely deploy newly developed pills, potions, and powders against the adversary, the CIA hired America’s most famous magician, John Mulholland, to write two secret manuals on sleight-of-hand and covert communication techniques.

Twenty years later, virtually all documents related to MKULTRA—including Mulholland’s manuals—were thought destroyed. Only recently, a surviving copy of each manual, complete with photographs and illustrations, was discovered. In their new book, The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception, H. Keith Melton, internationally renowned espionage historian, and Bob Wallace, former director of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services (OTS), reveal for the first time Mulholland’s complete illustrated instructions for CIA officers on the magician’s approach to manipulation and communication.

This eye-opening evening will explore the rich overlap between stage magic and espionage and reveal the “never before seen” secrets of how the magicians’ art also enhanced the spy’s craft.

Tickets: $20 per person. The Museum Complex is located at 800 F Street, NW – between 9th and 8th Streets, Washington DC

Men in Film

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By Philip Scott Johnson

Music: Bach’s Allemande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 performed by Antonio Meneses

thanks Erin

Related links:

  • Women in Art
  • Women in Film
  • How to Park Free

    Filed under: Art Pranks, Illusion and Magic

    Found and submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

    Artist creates invisible car
    02 May 2009

    Art student Sara Watson has found the ultimate way of avoiding traffic wardens – by making her car invisible.

    The 22-year-old student at the University of Central Lancashire spray painted a battered Skoda Fabia to match the car park and entrance to her art studio.

    Her work, created as part of her drawing and image making course at the university, creates the illusion that the car is see through.


    She was given the car from a breakers yard and worked for three weeks to ensure that it blended perfectly with its surroundings. (more…)

    Extreme Sheep Herding

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    Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Media Pranks

    From BaaStuds:

    We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts…

    thanks Erin

    Fastest Undressing Ever

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    How to undress in 2 seconds?

    via Huffington Post

    Grandpa Japan

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    Japanese illusionist/street magician at work:

    thanks Carol Lena

    The Black Hole

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    The Black Hole

    thanks Nick

    A Bright Idea

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    Filed under: How to Pull Off a Prank, Illusion and Magic, Instructionals

    From Kip Kedersha of Kipkay Videos, producer of DIY, hacks, mods, how-to’s and other cool and fun vids! Watch all of his videos at

    Mysterious Lightbulb Hack

    Food Art by Carl Warner

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    Filed under: Illusion and Magic

    Foodscapes: amazing food art by Carl Warner
    November 25, 2008

    Carl Warner is a London-based photographer who makes foodscapes: landscapes made of food. In the picture above, a pea pod boat sails away from a land made of bread and potatoes, over a sea of salmon.

    Here are a few more examples of his work:


    Ground-Breaking Special Effects Wizard Stan Winston Dies at 62

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    Filed under: Illusion and Magic

    Stan Winston

    In this undated image released by Stan Winston Studio, Stan Winston is shown. Winston, the Oscar-winning special-effects maestro responsible for bringing the dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park” and other iconic movie creatures to life, has died. He was 62. He died at his home in Malibu surrounded by family on Sunday, June 15, 2008, after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a representative from Stan Winston Studio.

    photo: Stan Winston Studio

    Related Articles:

  • Special-effects maestro Stan Winston dies at 62, AP, July 16, 2008
  • Stan Winston, 62, Special-Effects Artist, Dies, The New York Times, June 17, 2008
  • David Blaine: Taking Illusion to New Depths

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    Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Illusion and Magic

    David Blaine breaks world record for holding one’s breath
    by Tara Burghart
    USA Today
    April 30, 2008

    pic5_m-200.jpgChicago (AP) — David Blaine set a new world record Wednesday for breath-holding, 17 minutes and 4 seconds.

    The feat was broadcast live during The Oprah Winfrey Show and the studio audience cheered as divers pulled the 35-year-old magician from a water-filled sphere.

    Blaine looked relaxed afterward and said the record was “a lifelong dream.”

    The previous record was 16 minutes and 32 seconds, set Feb. 10 by Switzerland’s Peter Colat, according to Guinness World Records.

    Before he entered the sphere, Blaine inhaled pure oxygen through a mask to saturate his blood with oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide.

    Guinness says up to 30 minutes of so-called “oxygen hyperventilation” is allowed under its guidelines.

    Previously, Blaine was buried alive for a week in a see-through coffin in New York and spent more than a month suspended from a glass box by the River Thames in London.

    photo: Hong Kong Space Museum


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    Sleeveface: One or more persons obscuring or augmenting any part of their body or bodies with record sleeve(s) causing an illusion




    Kung Fu Magic Trick

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    Filed under: How to Pull Off a Prank, Illusion and Magic, Instructionals

    How to shoot through a bottle cap with a finger:

    Funny Kung Fu Magic Trick – video powered by Metacafe

    via Neatorama