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  • Writer's pictureJules

Do The Magic? Or Teach It?

When you see a magic show, one of the best things about it is that you don't know how it's done. You can't see the joins. And magicians go to a lot of effort to make sure their secrets aren't revealed (because knowing how it's done, can be really disappointing). Their job is to evoke the sense of child-like wonder and to blur your lines of what is and isn't possible.

It's the same with watching a great movie, say, Jaws or Duel from Steven Spielberg. You spend your time captivated by the imagery, not noticing any unusual camera angles or the deliberate lighting. You become engrossed in the story and empathise with the characters. You feel it with them.

(You might be able to see the joins when you watch the Director's Commentary, but unless you're going to make a film yourself, this may very well spoil the magic.)

Interestingly enough though, there seems to be a split when it comes to art.

If knowing the process behind magic ruins its effect, what else gets ruined when you know the trick? Does knowing how a painting was made remove the magic that's associated with it? Does it change how you feel about it?

Some artists solely create artwork like a magician would. They make you feel something when you look at the work and baffle you with how they've achieved it. They don't want you to know how they did it. What paints they used or the steps they took to make it. They want it to be an experience and a secret. They play on the idea that the process comes from a place within where there is no explaining. Creating something from nothing.

Whereas others enjoy showing you the process. Like a scientist, they reveal the inner workings as just a series of steps that you too could follow if you so desired. They show you their tools, their inspiration, their workflow. (And even if you did try it, your efforts might find to be lacking).

Both ways produce art that is beautiful and respected within the artistic arena, although I would argue that each way appeals to very different audiences.

The question is (if it is indeed a conscious choice to choose one path or the other) which would you choose?

Magic? (where you do the work to produce the emotion)


Teaching? (where you show how you do the work to inspire other people)

And is it possible to do both? Show your workings, and then still baffle at the end?

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