The Truth About Sleight of Hand

Here's my latest video. In it, I explain how sleight of hand works. You might be surprised. I hope you enjoy it! 

I love performing this piece for so many reasons. First of all it's a classic that all magicians know.
For me it was a really rewarding process to get to take this classic piece of card magic and work through the technique, the choreography and the motions to make it all flow. I'm really happy with how it all comes together and how every motion is justified, fluent and natural. I only hope to be able to give all of my material the same treatment. 

Secondly, the plot is very easy and it's visual and easy to follow along with. But I also like it for the fact that it seems to provide sort of a door into how magic and sleight of hand works, but at the end of it you're not really any wiser, maybe you're more baffled than you were going in. 

To those that are in the magic community, this video and the presentation that I choose to use for this piece has this dual meaning. It makes for an intriguing presentation, giving you the feeling that you learn a secret, but all it does is create more respect, awe and wonder for magicians. Everyone knows that what we do isn't actual magic (I hope), but put in this context it becomes honest, open and impossible all at the same time. It helps reinforce the idea that what we do aren't just cheap tricks, but skills, mysteries, secrets and methods that are so good that they are almost magical in and of themselves. 

There's also a second layer of meaning in the presentation and the title, which leads me to what I want to briefly discuss in this post. The perception of sleight of hand in the magic community itself. Relatively recently there has been a wave of people uploading videos of themselves executing sleight of hand moves on Instagram and other video sharing platforms. I say executing instead of performing because I feel that there is no element of performance in what they do. 
You might misunderstand what I mean here, please don't. I don't think that there is inherently anything wrong with doing that, but I'm a little puzzled as to what the meaning behind it is...

Is it to get feedback? Surely, videos of in-progress work for feedback purposes should be shared privately? Not for the world to see. 

Is it to show off your skills? Sure, that's okay. But wouldn't you rather show off your skills in the context of trick or an effect? Sure, people will say you have an excellent DPS and a smooth shift, but who really cares? What I care about is what you choose to do with it. Make me feel something or think something. 

Let's talk about the notion of invisibility for a second.. The shift, for example, is supposed to be a completely invisible technique. It secretly accomplishes something that is very helpful to us as performers and if used correctly can allow us to create all kinds of wonder and intrigue and mysteries for our audiences. If it's supposed to be invisible (which we all know it really isn't, at best it is imperceptible thanks to excellent timing, misdirection and flawless and quiet execution) - then it is also really not supposed to exist. Do you know what I mean? If there is a secret action that we put years of work into to make it fly by invisibly and undetected, why would we want to call attention to it and acknowledge that it exists by showing it off in some Instagram video? And how can a video with the camera pointing at your hands ever replicate how the shift looks in real life?

Last year I saw the best shift I ever saw (or didn't see). It was performed for me, not in the context of the move itself, but in the context of a trick. And only afterwards did I think "Well shit, that was a shift? I had no idea! Wow!". And isn't this what we want to accomplish? I had no idea that the action even took place! I bet that if you filmed that same person doing the same technique and put it on Instagram, it would look absolutely terrible. Because it would look like something is happening when nothing is supposed to happen. And that just brings us back to square one...

It just seems kind of pointless to me, and it seems to me that that time and effort could be spent doing better things.. 

But hey, whatever makes you happy I guess. If you're happy showing off your skills and being known for your excellent card handling technique, then that's wonderful! 

But it's not enough for me. And I suspect it's not enough for your audience either. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for watching my new video! 

Allan