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Published by Manjari Singh

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Published by: Manjari Singh on Jun 29, 2012
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Magic (illusion)
(sometimes referred to as
stage magic
to distinguish it from paranormal or ritual magic) is aperformingartthat entertains audiences by staging tricks or creatingillusionsof seemingly impossible
 feats using natural means. These feats are called
magic tricks 
.One who performs such illusions is called a
or an
. Some performers may also be referred toby names reflecting the type of magical effects they present, such asprestidigitators,conjurors,mentalists,  orescape artists. 
The term "magic" is etymologically derived from the Greek word
. Greeks andPersianshad been at warfor centuries and the Persian priests, called 
 in Persian, came to be known as
in Greek; thatwhich a Persian priest did come to be known as
and then
, a term which eventually referred toany foreign, unorthodox or illegitimate ritual practice.Performances we would now recognize as conjuring have probably been practiced throughouthistory.Thesame level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as theTrojan Horsewouldalso have been used forentertainment,or at least for cheating inmoneygames, since time immemorial. They were also used by the practitioners of various religions andcultsfrom ancient times onwards to frightenuneducated people into obedience or turn them into adherents. However, the profession of the illusionistgained strength only in the eighteenth century, and has enjoyed several popular vogues since.In 1584,Reginald Scotpublished 
.It was written in an attempt to showthatwitchesdid not exist, by exposing how (apparently miraculous) feats of magic were done.
 The book isoften deemed the first textbook about conjuring. All obtainable copies were burned on the accession ofJamesIin 1603 and those remaining are now rare. It began to reappear in print in 1651.
From 1756 to 1781,Jacob Philadelphiaperformed feats of magic, sometimes under the guise of scientificexhibitions, throughoutEuropeand inRussia.Modern entertainment magic owes much toJean Eugène Robert-Houdin(1805
1871), originally a clockmaker, who opened a magic theatre inParisin the 1840s. Hisspeciality was the construction of mechanical automata which appeared to move and act as if they were alive.TheBritishperformerJ N Maskelyneand his partner Cooke established their own theatre, the Egyptian Hall inLondon'sPiccadilly,in 1873. They presented stage magic, exploiting the potential of the stage for hidden mechanisms and assistants, and the control it offers over the audience's point of view.The model for the look of a 'typical' magician
a man with wavy hair, a top hat, a goatee, and a tailcoat
wasAlexander Herrmann(February 10, 1844
December 17, 1896), also known as Herrmann the Great.Herrmann was a French magician and was part of the Herrmann family name that is the "first-family of magic".Those who witnessed Herrmann the Great perform considered him the greatest magician they ever saw.The escapologist and magicianHarry Houdinitook his stage name from Robert-Houdin and developed a rangeof stage magic tricks, many of them based on what became known after his death asescapology.Houdini wasgenuinely skilled in techniques such as lockpicking and escaping straitjackets, but also made full use of therange of conjuring techniques, including fake equipment and collusion with individuals in the audience.Houdini's show business savvy was great as well as his performance skill. There is aHoudiniMuseumdedicated to him inScranton, Pennsylvania.  As a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television specials, which opened upnew opportunities for deceptions, and brought stage magic to huge audiences. Famous magicians of the 20thcentury includedOkito,Alexander,Harry Blackstone Sr.,Harry Blackstone Jr.,Howard Thurston,Theodore Annemann,Cardini,Joseph Dunninger,Dai Vernon,John Scarne,Tommy Wonder,Siegfried & Roy,andDoug Henning.Popular 20th and 21st century magicians includeDavid Copperfield,Lance Burton,James Randi,Penn and Teller,David Blaine,andCriss Angel.Most TV magicians perform before a live audience, who provide the remote viewer with a reassurance that the illusions are not obtained with post-productionvisualeffects. Many of the principles of stage magic are old. There is an expression, "it's all done with smoke and mirrors",used to explain something baffling, but effects seldom use mirrors today, due to the amount of installation workand transport difficulties. For example, the famousPepper's Ghost,a stage illusion first used in 19th-centuryLondon, required a specially built theatre. Modern performers have vanished objects as large as the Taj Mahal,the Statue of Liberty, and a space shuttle, using other kinds of optical deceptions.
Categories of effects
There is discussion among magicians as to how a given effect is to be categorized, and disagreement as towhat categories actually exist
for instance, some magicians consider "penetrations" to be a separate
category, while others consider penetrations a form of restoration or teleportation. Some magicians today, suchasGuy Hollingworth
 have begun to challenge the notion that all magic effects fit into alimited number of categories. Among magicians who believe in a limited number of categories (such asDarielFitzkee,Harlan Tarbell,S.H. Sharpe), there has been disagreement as to how many different types of effectsthere are. Some of these are listed below.
: The magician produces something from nothing
a rabbit from an empty hat, a fan of cardsfrom thin air, a shower of coins from an empty bucket, adove from a pan,or the magician him or herself,appearing in a puff of smoke on an empty stage
all of these effects are
: The magician makes something disappear
a coin, a cage of doves, milk from a newspaper, anassistant from a cabinet, or even theStatue of Liberty.A vanish, being the reverse of a production, mayuse a similar technique, in reverse.
: The magician transforms something from one state into another
a silk handkerchiefchanges colour, a lady turns into atiger,an indifferent card changes to the spectator's chosen card. Atransformation can be seen as a combination of a vanish and a production.
: The magician destroys an object, then restores it back to its original state
a rope is cut, anewspaper is torn, awoman is sawn in half,a borrowed watch is smashed to pieces
then they are allrestored to their original state.
: The magician causes something to move from one place to another
a borrowed ring isfound inside a ball of wool, a canary inside a light bulb, an assistant from a cabinet to the back of thetheatre. When two objects exchange places, it is called a transposition: a simultaneous, doubleteleportation.
: The magician (an assistant may participate, but the magician himself is by far the most common)is placed in a restraining device (i.e.handcuffsor astraitjacket)or a death trap, and escapes to safety. Examples include being put in a straitjacket and into an overflowing tank of water, and being tied up andplaced in a car being sent through a car crusher.
: The magician defies gravity, either by making something float in the air, or with the aid ofanother object (suspension)
a silver ball floats around a cloth, an assistant floats in mid-air, another issuspended from a broom, a scarf dances in a sealed bottle, the magician hovers a few inches off the floor.There are many popular ways to create this illusion, includingAsrah levitation,Balducci levitation,Looy's Sooperman,andKing levitation.Much more spectacular is the apparent free flightflying illusionthat is

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