Magic is one of the oldest and most successful performing arts, and it started as a form of entertainment at fairs in the 19th century. These days, magic is seen everywhere, from TV shows and theaters to corporate parties and children’s birthdays – it’s impossible not to love it. It would be very hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy a good magic act. But why are people so drawn to magic? If they weren’t, famous magicians like David Copperfield would not have sold tickets worth billions of dollars. Psychologists are a category of scientists who have researched magic and the fascination it provokes to audiences.
Most of us would say we don’t like to be fooled, but the majority of people also seem to really like a good magic trick. Magic is still as popular as ever. Certainly the fantasy and supernatural kind of magic, as seen in Harry Potter and The Magicians, continues to be popular, but also the traditional stage and performance magic, like the kind in Now You See Me 2 and frequently on American’s Got Talent, is a big part of the pop culture landscape.
Watching a six-minute YouTube video is a lot to ask when the internet serves up bite-size snippets of entertainment requiring just a few seconds of your attention. But close-up magician Eric Chien manages to squeeze so many impossible tricks into his World Championships of Magic-winning routine, you actually might wish it went on for a lot longer.
The International Federation of Magic Societies only holds its World Championships of Magic every three years, so you can imagine how many illusionists were vying for the grand prize. But Chien’s ‘Ribbon’ routine is a non-stop barrage of lightning-quick illusions, leaving you with little time to figure out what you just saw before his next trick baffles your brain all over again. And because it’s all close-up, sleight of hand magic, you can’t just assume a team of hidden assistants are making it all happen backstage.
The Federation of Magic Societies was created in 1948 and today consists of more than 97 magic societies, both national and international, as well as national Federations which represent over 70,000 magicians from some 49 countries.