Technology in Magic

I was having a discussion with a in Central London with a Magician friend of mine the other day about the use of technology in magic. He was wondering what my thoughts were on it and if I believed it's something that we as entertainers should embrace or should stay the hell away from. 

First of all I need to make my self clear. When I say technology I'm speaking from the perspective of a magician or mentalist entertainer. So the technology will aid, help you or even do the trick for you. 

I genuinely find this an interesting topic as the world seems to be moving so fast in it's development in technology and what we can now achieve with it. So naturally we magicians are starting to take advantage of some of these technological advancements to fool our spectators in to thinking we are actual wizards! 

When my friend asked me what I thought about the use of technology in magic needless to say I had one or two opinions on it. 
There is no doubt that there are some amazing things you can do and achieve with technology, things you can now do with iPhone apps and hidden gizmos. 
But at the risk of sounding negative I have some problems with them...

  1. Technology can run out of batteries - I don't want to ever rely on something during a performance that can run out of batteries. What if it does...Then what? 
  2. It's creating laziness - I Love some of the apps and gadgets that are out there for magicians. But because a lot of these items basically do the trick for you, I see a lot of performers getting lazy with the performance and just relying on the trick to do the work for them. 
  3. There is usually low tech method - A lot of performers think that using technology is the only way to do some of these effects. Educated magicians will know that there are alternative methods to technology based tricks. 
  4. It's how your audience thinks - I believe if you asked your audience how they think a trick or effect is done often they will think it's achieved by some sort of James Bond style gadget that you must have up your sleeve. So to me thats more of a reason not to be using these methods.
  5. They are really expensive - some of these gadgets go over £1k in price....WHAT!! For 1 trick!! Here is the crazy thing, you can achieve the same trick with items bought from WH Smiths and the audience wouldn't know the difference. 

But I do have some positive things to say too. 

  1. If you have a television spot or stage performance and you want a very reliable and clean method. Just check the batteries first! 
  2. Because it's so expensive you know not so many magicians in London will be performing it - it's always a good idea to separate yourself from other performers. This is something which I have always valued hugely with my act. Having a act with original material is something that has really contributed to getting repeat bookings and getting hired by high end clients. 
  3. They are quite fun to play with. Let's be honest it's fun to have a new toy for a few hours! 
  4. It takes the art out of the dark ages. Magic can sometimes be quite old fashioned, so it's always cool when you do a trick with a iPad or a borrowed phone. It's very modern. 

So to conclude. Technology has it's place in our magical world but I think it's something that we should become so reliant on. There are plenty of wonderful methods out there that don't need wires, batteries or bluetooth to amaze your audience. Use technology if you need it, or if it enhances something to a greater level or if it's relevant to the performance. 
Personally I won't be using so much technology for the reasons mentioned earlier. I do have a friend who is an app maker and uses a lot of technology in magic and it is wonderful to watch. 
I guess the real thing to take away from this post is, do what works for you! 


Alex Ward