I came back from the Staging Illusions Conference yesterday. The conference was Thursday – Friday but I stayed in London looking at busking spots for the project in the spring. Not that many buskers out of course (wrong time of the year), but I got to see the three main spots at Covent Garden and the one at London Eye and found some action at Picadilly Circus. Also I found the time for a lunch with Andrew Sheerin (one of the designers of War on Terror: the Boardgame) and some discussions on his network for critical game designers. The plans are still quite young, but could turn into something fruitful. Keep me up to date Andrew!
A two day, yearly, conference on staging illusions. Mostly people from culture, media and gender studies, also some historians and some with a bit of a technical background. And quite many practicing magicians, nice! This is not really my field, but it was a great way to broaden my mind and find new angles on what I’m doing. If I should really distil the main content from the conference I would say Vanessa Toulmin’s keynote gave a good overview, from pantasmagoria and Peppers ghost to George Méliès movies and Dark Rides.
Other talks I found interesting was:
Jacquelin Hylkema’s speech on history and how the public focus changed from the deciever to the victim around the change of the century 1800 – 1900.
Max Schneider‘s overview of directing miracles and magic effects. Mainly the three roles of a magician:
- Playing the magician, a superior being, an alpha male.
- Magician playing a role, in a story.
- Magic in a play, without one clear magician
Also the split into three types of magicians is interesting:
Kate Genevieve presented “Give me your hand” where the participant is blinded, but with a video showing the surroundings. This builds upon the idea of relating to a rubber hand if you treat it the same way as your real hand (Google it).
Jon Armstrong presented his idea of magic in theatre performance. He’s got a different vocabulary but a lot of thought connect well to what I’m thinking, and especially to the project I call ‘Spooks’ (yes, I’m talking to you Arkadia).
Astrid Enslin had a lot of good ideas around metalepsis as a transmedia phenomenon. How levels of story collide and different ways of looking at it. There was a lot of good references and I need to look more closely at her work in the future. Among other things she compared:
- Mimesis, the illusion of experience reality (Plato, Aristotel, Averbach, Ricouéur, Genette, Wolf)
- Fourth wall (Diderot, Auter & Davis)
- Willing suspension of disbelief (Coleridge, Ferri)
- Immersion (Murray, Marinelli, Salen & Zimmermann, Boellstorff)
Also there were some talk around Bergson’s intuitive method that was quite interesting