Tuesday, November 9, 2010

About Copycats

An interesting little thought came up. In a German magic forum the following video was posted.

The young magician with arguable taste and a Justin Bieber hairdo is directly ripping off the Copperfield's presentation for the Origami Illusion.

It is a school project. And aside from the fact that the illusion itself is a cheap knock off the discussion was about if it is okay to teach school kids magic, as one could get the impression, that "magic is no art, because kids can do it"

Here is my take. Magic is no art. Painting is no art either, nor is playing the piano. It is a craft. And you gotta learn the craft before you can become an artist in the field. So a piano player needs to play other people's music before writing his own. A painter needs to learn how to spread paint around on a canvas before he can approach to create his own system. (e.G. Bob Ross)

And a magician needs to do other people's acts before he can start to do his own. In the past a young man, wanting to learn magic needed a teacher. And usually the teacher would teach his apprentice all he can do. And he would insist that the apprentice would become an exact copy of the teacher. Simply because the act works. The lines would have to be copied, the moves, the structure and even the character. That way the apprentice would understand why an act worked. The apprentice was not allowed to do his own thing, even if the young man desired to do so. And finally, when the apprenticeship was over the young man was said good by by saying "Now, do your own thing!"

Usually the young man had no more interest to copy his master, yet he had all the tools to do his own thing. Cool isn't it.

So to assume that every beginner should have a unique approach to magic is stupid. One needs to go beyond the phase of copying others. But for a short while I think it's okay. The process is called "Learning the Craft".


Magic Unlimited said...

Interesting take. Here in Australia we had an established magician build his own Origami and copy Copperfield's presentation too. He was given not one, but two, Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Tribun said...

As I saw your headline and watched the video (btw: funny to recognize him. I know that guy from conventions) I was going to disagree to your posting - by mentioning that in my opinion it is ok to copy acts in order to learn the important thinks and getting a feeling.
Then, suddenly, I read your posting and was suprised that it wasn't your point to blame him a copy cat!
So, all I have to say now is: True! ;)

The Smiling Mule said...

You really will have to stop these kind of posts. You'll have people believing you are intelligent and thoughtful.

helios said...

learning and incrase the craft is fine...This young guy is trying hardly to accomplish the act what probably he learned front of a mirror.The requisit is .....Well it isn t a well made,and besides the music I see no problem with the act.Copperfield did it anyway for a selling purpos with Mr.Jim Steinmeyer behind the show!!!This trick became an all time favorite since!!
If u look at the karate master and his apprentice,they do the very same.But later all goes on separate ways.this is how it should be.
Go to India or China and u can find a FULL COPY of everything.Thats sick.This is a illusion from a beginner.Nothing more nothing less..Helios

Laurence said...

Before I start, I don't want anyone to get me wrong. I am the first person to rip other peoples acts off verbatim. Heck, I even rip the audio out of magic dvds so I can steal the patter .... verbatim.

Now I'm going to get on my high horse. I blame DVDs. DVDs are a great tool for seeing if the trick looks cool or not. But once you see it your own creativity is stunted. Books on the other hand make it harder to find that gem (and even then they get overlooked) but you can actually fit the trick to your performance style.

I always come across so fake and crap when performing something learnt from a DVD. When performing something from a book I come across just plain old crap ... but genuine :)